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Guidebooks in the tech age...

I hope I am not opening Pandora’s box here... but has anyone downloaded Rick Steve’s guidebooks to kindle? We are spending four weeks in Europe. If I am supposed to pack light, how can I do that when I’m toting guidebooks for Amsterdam, Belgium, France, and Italy?

1. I can also share the eBook to my husbands phone, my phone, and my iPad as well as my kindle reader.

2. I can print maps, walks, tours from my iPad for actually touring, if needed.

3. I can annotate, bookmark, etc the eBooks.

4. And most importantly, they don’t weigh anything!

Cons: it’s not a book.

Does any one have experience with both formats and prefer one over the other? Thank you!

Posted by
1175 posts

We do a bit of both. In the planning, we devour guidebooks and make a list of places we want to visit or see. We use google maps to mark those places in various cities and if driving, we save to favorites the addresses of hotels, museums, restaurants, markets, etc. into our own GPS. We never take guide books along but use our phones or kindles and the GPS to get around. If you download complete guidebooks, you'll be looking down at your kindle instead of looking at your stunning surroundings. We did download the Rick Steves audio tours of places like the Sistine Chapel and the Louvre and enjoyed them immensely using ear buds. We like to get paper maps of the various cities at our hotels or local shops and mark them to indicate sights or city walks. We also study how to use local transportation in the cities we visit and always buy things like a Navigo Decouverte or an Oyster card for a multiple day pass on buses or underground rail. If you visit chateaus, B & B's, etc with no real addresses I use google maps, switch to the latitude/longitude on the GPS, pinpoint say the driveway to a B&B, and save that to favorites and label it. Works like a charm to find places in the rural areas of various countries. When driving extensively, we also order prior to our trips a Michelin paper map prior to our departure and sometimes those come in handy driving around back roads. Sitting and resting at a sidewalk cafe or wine bar is a great place to review the day's plans and destinations and how best to get there. You'll have a great time.

Posted by
91 posts

Use the Kindle edition, no question. It takes a bit of getting used to, but it’s worth it for the savings in weight and space.

Posted by
6788 posts

I use both printed and electronic guidebooks (including but not only Rick's). Each have their place. There are times when I find it's helpful to have the printed book, but yeah, they get heavy. Worth noting: not all guide books are available in electronic format! I just bought one a couple weeks ago.

For the print books, I typically take them to the local chain print & copy shop, have them slice off the binding, then I take it home, carefully remove the parts of the book I know I won't need (recycle those pages), then take the remains back to the shop, and have them re-bind it with a plastic spiral binding. That way, it lays flat on a table, can easily be folded back....and is quite a bit smaller/lighter than in the original. I'll never take another printed travel book along without doing this.

For the electronic editions...well, the downloads don't weigh anything (just virtually lighten your wallet).

Posted by
9 posts

Thank you for the sanity check. I will order the ebooks. Wish I could do that here to support the site but it looks like I have to go to Amazon.

I have checked his guidebooks from the library so we can do our pre-planning. If anything, I find I over-research and over-plan. If we find we are enjoying spending more time than expected at one sight, I’m perfectly happy to cross off another sight that was lower on our priority list... but I I won’t know which one that is unless I do my homework.

And George, it sounds like we prepare alike with the Google Maps app. We have been saving everything from hotels, restaurants, and sights in “my places” as well as downloading offline maps so we don’t have to use data when driving or walking around a city.

I like your idea of downsizing and personalizing guidebooks, David. I may still find a need to print out some pages and have them bound as you suggested.

Technology is grand.

Posted by
3200 posts

Many trips, many books. But I switched exclusively to ebooks in 2011. They are a little harder to navigate but visiting sites, it’s always on my phone. Right now ‘tis the season for guidebook updates so check when a new edi5ion is being released before you purchase. I have a 2016 Italy ebook and I’m leaving for Italy on September 20th. The edition of that book drops on the 18th.

Posted by
567 posts

I agree with using a combination of methods. I did the RS Scotland tour last year and just took out the pages I thought I would need for both the places the tour went and other ideas for the time on my own. I got the RS binder covers to put the pages in. Note, if you overfill them, the little spine on the covers keep popping off. I actually didn't use them as much as I thought I would, though. I mostly did research online in the hotel in the evenings to prepare for the next day.
In a few weeks, I'm going on my second trip to Florence (this time solo!) for a week. I'm just doing research online and marking places to go on Google maps and also plan to download the Google map to my phone. I'm taking a Florence city map from a DK guidebook I already had, but leaving the guidebook at home. I've made my own calendar of places I plan to go with notes and will follow that. I think the less weight you take, the better. I've borrowed RS guidebooks on my kindle before just to read. If available at my library before I go, I may download the Tuscany region book to take with me just to see how much I actually refer to it.