A skeptic’s guide to travel guide books

Picnic at the Cathedral

I use guide books when I travel, but always selectively and with skepticism.  Why am I a skeptic?  Because many guide books are inaccurate and poorly updated.  Here’s a perfect example: for the past 18 years I’ve worked at the same museum, and throughout those 18 years customers have steadily approached our staff looking confused or angry, guide book in hand.  I know just what will happen next: the customer will open the guide and read a wildly inaccurate paragraph about the museum’s collection.  I’ve almost memorized this paragraph because it’s remained the same for the past 18 years.  The museum has contacted the guide book publisher with corrected information many times, and yet they continue to publish edition after edition with the same misleading description.

Given the probable inaccuracies in travel guides,  I recommend using them for their most helpful content: maps, walking tours and background information for your destination. …

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