travel – Lonely Planet

Guatemala guidebook Lonely Planet guidebooks revolutionized travel & reinvented the guidebook genre in the same way that Cirque du Soleil reinvented the circus.

Starting on a kitchen table in 1972, the Australian company grew quickly to dominate the industry overcoming many long-established competitors.

What did Lonely Planet do right?

  • The best maps
  • No advertising
  • No endorsements
  • Focus on good value at all price ranges
  • Support of ecologically sensitive vendors
  • Support of indigenous vendors over outsiders
  • Highlights maps
  • Top 10 lists
  • Recommended itineraries
  • Lonely Planet holds people to account. If vendors cheat or misrepresent to travellers, they do so at their peril. In some cases businesses close after LP gives a bad review or even drops a listing.

    And brutally accurate write-ups. While they have gotten softer over the years, my current Central America on a Shoestring still includes:


    … Those who have wrecked havoc on Central America. A Hall of Shame:

    1) Pedro Arias de Avila – bishop-murdering Spanish founder of Panama City

    2) Pedro de Alvarado – Spaniard whose burning of captives in the 1520s disturbed even Cortes

    3) Alonso de Caceres – Spaniard who called fake truce in 1537 to murder Honduran indigenous leader Lempira

    4) William Walker – bully American in 1850s who tried to take over Central America

    5) Ronald Reagan – US president of 1980s who broke records for outside intervention

    Other travel guidebooks were inferior. I recall the horrible Lets Go Europe we carried in 1976. And the stupendously useless Rough Guide China (1st edition) I foolishly did not throw in the dumpster in 1998.

    Now in a very few regions there are good competitors; the best example being the South American Handbook (now Footprint guides).

    Thence I was shocked (as you might imagine) to stumble on to Moon Handbooks Baja — a better guidebook than Lonely Planet! Why so? For one thing it is authored by Joe Cummings, the legendary lead writer for Lonely Planet in the early years. When Mick Jagger wanted a guide for his entourage in Thailand, he phoned Joe.

    I’ve started to browse other travel guidebooks recently and been very pleasantly surprised. They have improved. Most by copying LPs format and style.

    It reminds me how Microsoft, Yahoo and AOL search engines exactly copied Google and, as a result, are starting to improve. Have you seen the prettiest Google imitator?

    I may finally (faintly) consider alternative guidebooks in future.

    author P. D. James

    author P.D. James is a treasure.

    I think she’s the best classic mystery writer today. You may know her work from BBC TV adapataions of her Adam Dalgleish detective series.

    Now you know who-done-it.

    P. D. James – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    new books by Ron Shewchuk

    book cover Congratulations to my buddy Ron Shewchuk on the publication of his latest book, Writing and Editing the Internal Publication.

    He’s posted a new blog in conjunction with the release.

    Ron’s new corporate communications blog, For Your Approval

    Ron has a best selling cookbook still on the shelves and a second cookbook ready for publication. Cookbook details on Ron’s homepage.

    Unforgettable Things To Do Before You Die – kayak Baja


    The highlight of my 4-day trip was snorkeling with sea lions at Los Islotes. They hugged & kissed us. Wow!

    I wasn’t too worried when one took a love bite at my knee cap. (Rangers told us they have only had to evacuate one bleeding tourist back to La Paz, so far.)

    White sand beach camps, desert canyons adorned with hanging fig trees, snorkelling with tropical fish, towering rock cliffs, sea caves, ringtail cats, leaping manta rays. That’s what I’m talking about.

    Writing the travel adventure book Unforgettable Things To Do Before You Die (2005) authors Steve Watkins & Clare Jones were personally guided by Manuel — also my guide in 2006. I should write a book too! Or at least post a website on how to kayak Isla Espiritu Santo. …

    Rick\'s shadow

    For the full travelogue in 60 annotated photos jump to the permanent webpage in Rick’s travelogue archive. OPEN icon

    Next travelogue on this trip >> La Paz, Baja

    book – Mosquito Coast, Paul Theroux

    I have read all of Theroux’s travel books & most of his novels.

    Finally got around to his 1982 novel which was made into a movie starring Harrison Ford.

    Great book! Good movie!

    The extreme philosophy of Ford’s character — a man who so hates American life that he moves his family to the jungles of Central America — is still fascinating today.

    It reminds me of another terrific case study: Elizabeth Gilbert’s biography of Eustace Conway, The Last American Man.

    Amazon reviews of Mosquito Coast.


    TV – Michael Palin on travel

    Michael Palin

    Palin became famous as one of the Monty Python comedians.

    But I like him even better for his excellent travel series:

    » Around the World in 80 Days (1989)

    » Pole to Pole (1992)

    » Irish Railway Journey: Derry to Kerry (1994)

    » Full Circle (1997) circumnavigating the Pacific Ocean

    » Hemingway Adventure (1999) retracing Ernest footsteps

    » Sahara (2002)

    » Himalaya (2004)

    He is credited with a “Palin effect”, where places he visits immediately see increased tourism.

    Michael Palin’s profile on Wikipedia.