I recently read Lonely Planet’s guide to Europe’s Best Road Trips. Yes, the photos are stunning and it makes me want to learn to drive and travel all over. However, what annoys me about this list is their lack of diversity. According to the United Nations, there are 44 countries in Europe. All of the countries listed in Lonely Planet’s guide are in Western Europe. What about all the other countries? I’ve travelled around Montenegro, Albania, Serbia, and many others and they boast breathtaking landscapes. Why are these countries ignored?
Calm down Helen, it’s just a list
Maybe I am over-reacting. However, it’s not the first time I’ve been discontented with their lack of information about some countries. Shortly before Mitch and I left for Mexico, I spent a lot of time browsing travel books in Waterstones. This is likely because Waterstones Bristol strategically built their cafe in the travel section. Well played, Waterstones Bristol. When Mitch and I backpacked around eastern and central Europe back in 2015, we bought a massive Lonely Planet guide called Eastern Europe covering everything from Albania up to Poland and all the countries between. When we bought the book it had 1013 pages. When I was last in Waterstones, I picked up the latest edition of this book and it was 480 pages.
How have they cut over 500 pages of information? That book covers 21 countries, meaning each country has 22.8571429 pages. Except, of course, it doesn’t because some of that is language, Top 25 Things To Do, and countries like Kosovo have about 10 pages. Though, granted, it is smaller.
Alright, Helen. We get it. You don’t like Lonely Planet
I don’t like their lack of acknowledgement and the lack of information about some extraordinary countries. Except… I kind of love them… Sometimes. I can’t deny that going to ogle at all the beautiful Lonely Planet books in Waterstones makes me happy. I couldn’t resist buying the bright, colourful, up-to-date Mexico book before our trip. I love browsing all the pages about what to do and where they recommend. I can’t help myself. I love them.
It’s a true love-hate relationship. For me, Lonely Planet is both a friend and a foe. On my first solo travelling trip around Vietnam, I stuck by my Lonely Planet book like it was my best friend. I was glued to it for a lot of my trip. Although, not as much as John Irving’s Until I Find You which I really fell in love with. As I got further into my trip, I became a more confident traveller, and I relied less on my Lonely Planet book. By the time I was in Cambodia, I didn’t even have a book.
I’ll be the first to admit that in Vietnam, I needed my Lonely Planet guide for the first few weeks. I had no plan whatsoever, and so a good map and some information about each region was much appreciated. The book did lead me to some places which I may not have gone to otherwise.
So, how exactly do you feel about Lonely Planet, Helen?
I think Lonely Planet guides are great resources to have. There is no doubt that they do contain a lot of information and their maps, region overviews, transport information, and basic language tips come in really useful. However, I wish they gave credit and wrote about all countries with the depth they deserve. Why cram that many countries into one book? Yes, there is a book about Croatia, Poland, Montenegro, but where is the book about Albania? Lonely Planet has a lot of power in the travel world and I think they should use this power to promote countries less talked about and show people that they are worth visiting.