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Who is the “RS” of everywhere else?

I’m not sure if Rick is one of a kind in this regard, but I am wondering which destination gurus people turn to for trip planning outside of Europe. Not Lonely Planet, or Fodors type resources, but someone like say Matt Barret, who’s my go to for all things Greece.

Thanks :)

Posted by
5645 posts

For Spain, it’s maribelsguides.com. I print out her PDFs for various provinces and cities. I wish there were a Maribel for everyplace we travel!
Comprehensive as well as practical info such as where do laundry or have it done.

Posted by
45 posts

I can only speak to past travel research of my own but back when my kids were little and I was planning trips to Disney, I was a frequent visitor to disboards.com- a great community board for all things Disney. We used to cruise a lot years ago (including to Europe) and I found tons of great information on cruisecritic.com-their forum is outstanding!

Posted by
1420 posts

Most of the TripAdvisor Forums are really hit and miss... but the Hawaii Forums are excellent, with several long-time posters giving honest advice and up-to-date info. Since I’m a repeat visitor to the Islands, I’ve been following it for years.
I too go to the relevant Cruise Critic community boards when needed as well.

Posted by
48 posts

For anything South East Asia I use www.travelfish.org .

Trip Advisor, like another poster stated, is hit and miss...for the most part however you get a good idea on what posts are BS and what are legitimate.

Posted by
4809 posts

I am not sure there is a similar business model out there for other regions like Rick Steves has established for Europe. He has managed to keep himself front and center as the face of the organization, implying a totally personal touch (which to a large degree there is) while the reality is that there is an army of contributors, writers, guides, etc. that keep the place going and churning out books and content.

Frommers guides at one time was closer to what Rick does, before Rick did it, still good guides; but he has passed the business on (as I suppose Rick will someday) so the personal element has declined some.

I do not discount the other well known guides, Lonely Planet and Let's Go have a more down to earth, budget style, my only complaint with Lonely Planet is that in an attempt to cover everything, they can read like an encyclopedia, little of the background, history or interest that Rick adds in his locations (and hence covers only select locations). I will also consult Fodor's, DK guides are only good for the pictures and maps. I suppose none of those have a figurehead, but they are written by people, just not an individual that you can identify with.

That leaves Blog type sites or ones built for a region by an individual if you want a "Personal" touch. I can not point to any specific ones, you mentioned the Greek site, I have used it for some basic info, there are others, my only grain of salt I take with Matt's site is the heavy amount of commercial links and endorsements. For other blogs, again, you have to accept that they are from an individuals narrow point of view, finding a compatible travel style and level of budget is critical. Information is not necessarily vetted, and you really need to watch dates, many sites do not indicate when the information was written or if it is updated. A ten year old restaurant review might as well be ancient history.

Posted by
2705 posts

A UK publication that I like for travel is Bradt guides. They keep the region of coverage small, I think because they have good local experts to keep things up to date. It does less mainstream approaches and assumes people want to take public transport. When I was looking for alternate trips in Tanzania, that was my go to book. Maps are not always reliable and you don't want to head out on a road without some idea about what to find. I had a local driver, and he had been to some of the area, but as it was off the tourist routes, we had to work together on time and conditions and this book helped. They have a website for updates and trip reports and I feel there are more personal nuggets included in the book and website. Even if you don't want to take the local bus around Africa, it is in depth enough to read for the back stories. Mix it up with a guide a little more 'main stream' and you can get yourself a good trip.
They sell on Amazon and I see they now offer e-pubs and travel guides for kids and even USA by Rail.
I would be looking here for places like Albania, Montenegro, Eastern Europe regions not as heavily covered by RS or this forum. Or the 'Stans', the Middle East, or Polar regions - Antarctica or a book dedicated to searching the Northern Lights. They've got it.

Posted by
326 posts

Even though you were not interested in Lonely Planet or Fodors type resources, you might find this travel guidebook site of interest - it's quite thorough and may provide some insight:

http://www.reidsguides.com/t_gi/t_gi_guidebooks.html

It depends what type of traveler you are as to what "destination guru" may be relevant.

Posted by
991 posts

If you're looking just for tours, I'd suggest G Adventures. They travel around the globe, and they are very environmentally conscious. They also do a great job of connecting you with locals for your travel experiences.

Posted by
225 posts

Thanks, everyone, for the suggestions. I look forward to checking them out when I return form my next trip and start slipping into travel withdrawal.

Posted by
3133 posts

RS is one of many brands of travel books. I also look at Fodors, Lonely Planet, and Frommers.

Posted by
516 posts

“I can only speak to past travel research of my own but back when my kids were little and I was planning trips to Disney, I was a frequent visitor to disboards.com- a great community board for all things Disney.”

We’re taking our first “trip” with our 9-month old to Disneyland. Prior to this we were more “world” Travelers. Nonetheless I don’t take any travel planning for granted, even if it’s something as close by and as seemingly simple as a trip to Disneyland. I found disboard.com and have been floored by the amount of helpful information and insider tricks available. I’d have to say that disboard.com is the RS of Disney vacations.

“Most of the TripAdvisor Forums are really hit and miss..”

I’d have to agree with this. I’ve been using TA for years, both the reviews and their forums and it can be all over the place. Some forum posters post just or the sake of posting with either useless responses or worse, inaccurate responses. Tons of reviews on hotels that just talk about how in love they were on their honeymoon and less about useful practical info on that hotel. You just have to spend more effort sorting through it all.

“I am not sure there is a similar business model out there for other regions like Rick Steves has established for Europe. He has managed to keep himself front and center as the face of the organization, implying a totally personal touch (which to a large degree there is) while the reality is that there is an army of contributors, writers, guides, etc. that keep the place going and churning out books and content.”

Agreed….RS is really unique in that aspect. It’s still a personal business that hasn’t sold to a mega corporation with stockholders. He can afford certain luxuries which are then passed on to us as end users because of this. He also gives out a lot of content for free and is faithful to public broadcasting. I was at a travel show last year where both RS and Samantha Brown spoke and afterwards I asked Samanthan Brown about her decision to leave the Travel Channel and join RS at public broadcast and she said it was the best decision she ever made.

For Japan I discovered InsideJapanTours.com. I used them for a tour on my first trip there and was blown away at how good it was. They have differing levels of trips and I chose something closer to the lower end. Not once did we ride in a tour bus or eat in a pre-arranged tourist type restaurant. I asked the guide about the choice of restaurants in particular and he said no reservations are made in advance and that they could be different depending on the guide because each guide can choose which restaurants they like to use and so he was taking us to his own favorites. The guide brought our small group everywhere, on the subways, local buses, split us up into several taxis, you name it. The local immersion we received was amazing. Not once we were brought shopping anywhere. In fact, if we didn’t want to do what the group did, he would ask what we did want to do and then show us how to do it, how to get there, etc. it was less like being on a “tour” and more like being shown around town by a friend.

Posted by
6150 posts

I'm not sure I want every source of advice, including travel, to be personality/celebrity driven because that turns into a weird sort of idolatry (speaking of which, I miss Anthony Bourdain...). I try to look at what's the most thorough book for a certain country by comparing a few. In those books, the authors tend to be in the background (not front and center as the marketers-in-chief), but their expertise is invaluable.

Posted by
40 posts

I'm so glad you asked this question! My husband and I use RS in Europe, but are thinking about New Zealand & Thailand in Jan. or Feb. We aren't sure who or what to look at to plan the trip. Looking forward to an informative thread.

Posted by
170 posts

Even the most unassuming guidebook can sometimes surprise travelers by having rare info that is worth gold. We once got a huge tip for India, in of all places, a Lets Go edition!
I am done. The end.