Deconstructing Travel Guides

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Whether you set off with suitcase, backpack, or just a passport in your pocket, chances are you’re carrying a guide. That book is chosen with care, from authoritative directories of high-class hotels to the bibles of budget backpacker freedom.

The variations are endless. A guide to Zimbabwe may offer the history of a native tribe or suggest romantic getaways on the African coast. What we seek and what we find has much to do with the guide we choose.

Dust off your travel books, and reconsider the wisdom of the words you followed through Venice’s canals, Bangkok’s back streets, or the transformed town of your youth.


Pico Iyer, author of numerous travel essays and narratives, including “The Global Soul” ;
Don George, travel editor for Lonely Planet Guides.