Back in 2013, I had an amazing internship opportunity in Rodrigues Island. It was my first time to live away from my family and obviously, I was thrilled but a bit worried if I could make it for a year. I was told that Rodriguans are very friendly and life over there is way too laid back compare to Mauritius island, where I live. I needed to know about the place, accommodation, food, and utilities. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find much on the internet and neither a travel guidebook dedicated to the island.
With the little information in hands, I went optimistically to live the adventure for a year. Living in the tiny island has taught me so much about myself through the island’s amicable people and wild landscapes. Yet, I felt like having a travel guide at that time could have helped me to properly plan my work schedule and explore the island at the same time…
Why a travel guidebook is important?
It is always important to learn about the place you’re heading in advance. Sure some google searches and online articles might help you but they won’t give you the real picture. For instance, things like water quality, internet speed, things to take into consideration, places to shop or eat are crucial to know. In such cases a travel guidebook helps you get handy information at the right time.
Why is it important to understand the local culture?
I believe it is very important to learn about the local culture, general customs, and traditions about the place you are about to visit. The reason is to be able to understand the locals. This way it becomes easier to mingle and converse with them. Having a background knowledge of the culture and the people is always crucial in order to avoid any unwanted incidences. For instance, the dress code while visiting any specific place. Respecting foreign culture not only helps you to understand people but about yourself too, which eventually broadens your perspective.
How do I choose a travel guidebook?
It depends on what kind of travel guide is available on the market. Nowadays, there are lots of travel guidebooks and to choose the right one is indeed a hassle. Unfortunately, some of the travel guidebooks are filled with commercialized places, tempting pictures, and little information about authentic travel experiences. What you really want to look is a travel guide with a local perspective or someone who has spent an extensive amount of time at the travel destination.
Of course, most of the travel guidebooks or even magazines are sponsored, which is why you will end up with a list of promoted commercialized packages. There is nothing wrong with it, but how far do they reflect the real picture or authentic experience?
It all depends on what kind of travel experience you are looking for. If you don’t mind about the very much promotional tours, accommodation, or places, then you can get any travel guidebook easily on the market. On the contrary, if you are looking for something different, and authentic then look for a travel guidebook which promotes travel experience (more about the people, culture, and environment), and not just ‘one-of-a-lifetime experience package’. A travel guide which doesn’t confuse you with a huge list of things to do, places to visit or stay but provides you with handpicked options where you will be able to make your own choices easily.
So, does a travel guidebook matter?
Yes, it does. It surely prepares you to get the required information about the place you are planning to visit. It certainly helps you decide whether you are ready for the travel and culture adventure or not.