Some of the best known web ‘guide books’ are provided by the publishers of printed guide books, such as Rough Guides, Fodors and Lonely Planet. Other professional ones may be put together by companies that you may not have heard of, but are ‘big’ in the world of travel. For example, World Travel Guide.
This has been put together by a commercial company, Columbus, who also supply travel guides to travel agents. As it’s a commercial company, they need to finance the website, so there are numerous adverts and links which can be annoying, but you can quickly find out information on a country. Some more unusual/less popular destinations may have limited information.
As with printed guide books, some websites are general and cover the whole world, while others cover particular parts of the world, countries, cities, or resorts. Other sources also provide guides, such as newspapers and travel magazines who both publish articles from their printed versions.
Broadcasting companies may also do the same, with the chance to playback old shows or to read news stories on travel.
Using such varied professional articles, guides, programmes and news stories, you can build up your own travel guide based solely on your own needs. This is important as every writer has their own style and take on what is relevant.
It can be still be difficult to research somewhere off the beaten track
Even by using the Internet, finding information on less fashionable destinations may be as difficult as using a printed guide book. What I have found when researching the niche destinations is that many websites copy information from the same source, so you may find the same information time and time again, which is very frustrating.
If you need to print the information from the website, check to see if the site offers a print option. This will save paper as only the content should be printed.
Travel guide websites
This website aims to provide up-to-date travel and tourist information for countries and cities throughout the world. The guides give the visitor travel tips, information on tourist attractions, major landmarks, monuments, excursions, accommodation, shopping, restaurants, city transport, airports and more.
It has around 600 travel guides, along with maps, pictures and a weekly travel blog. The travel blog has destination reviews, updates on the website, travel news and other travel related stuff.
BootsnAll Travel Network is a community of online resources and travel guides. The purpose is to connect and inspire independent travellers. It is an American site and it also provides a booking service.
Over five million people visit LonelyPlanet.com each month (according to the website). They visit to discuss, dream, plan and sometimes to book travel. Their destination pages cover thousands of cities and countries, so unless you are going somewhere really unusual, you’re sure to find the info that you need here.
Fodors is reported to be the world’s largest publisher of travel and tourism information. Their website covers nearly all you would need to know about a destination, including restaurants, nightlife and sightseeing. This site also has a forum where travellers can share their experiences and offer advice.
Frommer’s started in 1957 with their guide book ‘Europe on $5 a Day’. It has now grown to over 300 guides. Their goal is to help their readers to explore destinations like a local. The website offers extracts from these books, articles and a forum.
Rough Guides started in 1982 when Mark Ellingham couldn’t find a guide book that met his requirements while travelling around Greece. Mark teamed up with Martin Dunford on his return to the UK and the Rough Guides series of guide books was born.
Now Rough Guides cover more than 200 destinations around the globe and subjects as diverse as Climate Change and Pregnancy. This website has extracts from the guides, article and a forum.
The Insight Guide website is really there to sell you copies of their books, but as Insight has a reputation of being a very visual travel guide, there are some great pictures on the website. There is a useful ‘inspire me’ option where you can be taken to brief articles written about a few inspiring destinations.
As guide books have websites, so does the most famous series of magazine city guides. The guides are mainly written for the younger traveller, but there are still some really useful ideas on this site for city visitors of any age.