Throw Away Your Guidebook

The Wayfarer’s Handbook is a guide to travel for people who don’t use travel guides.  Sales of classic destination-specific travel guides by companies like Lonely Planet, Moon, and Frommer’s have plummeted, for two main reasons.  For one, more up-to-date and customized information is often available for free online.  Secondly, the idea of ending up in the same overrun places as all the other Western tourists – everyone turned to the same specific page of their guidebook itinerary – is a nightmare for many modern travelers.  It makes perfect sense that the printed destination travel guide is a dying breed: the historical success of the genre was based on the idea that readers simply didn’t have many sources from which to get destination specific information.  Now that the internet and convenient mobile technology are reaching the travel trails of distant countries, of course people are taking advantage.  Travelers have been desperate to diversify for years, but simply haven’t had any other choice until now.

Though the slow demise of the printed destination travel guide is a natural casualty of the internet age, it has created a vacuum in the travel book market.  While these travel guides are mostly filled with the location-specific recommendations for which people now use the internet, they also often contain tidbits of advice, cultural insight, helpful reference information, or travel philosophy that is often not being effectively replicated on websites like Wikitravel.  The internet, replete with color pictures and up-to-the-minute information, is becoming so effective at providing any type of traveler, from surfing hippie to bird-watching grandmother, with information about where to go that it’s becoming difficult for any book to realistically compete.  But the information on those websites is almost always purely geographical.  It does nothing to enlighten or inspire the traveler, instead it simply points them in a certain direction.  That is what’s being lost in the digitalization of guidebook data: the advice, reference information, history, trivia, and general miscellany sprinkled throughout the guidebook about the act of travel itself.

That is where The Wayfarer’s Handbook comes in.  It is a thoroughly modern resource for all the information a traveler needs on travel itself, without wasting any space on the fool’s errand of trying to tell readers where they should go.  It rejects the very idea of a strict itinerary, instead advising travelers that talking with other travelers and being open-minded are the best ways to have truly unique experiences.  It’s not a guide to anywhere – it’s a guide to everywhere; showing readers that with the right attitude and some basic knowledge, they can create their own personal, spontaneous path through the world and be constantly surprised by the things that they encounter.

Furthermore, The Wayfarer’s Handbook embraces the internet as the excellent travel resource that it is.  Many travelers today carry some kind of internet-connected phone or laptop and The Wayfarer’s Handbook is written with this type of technology-equipped traveler in mind.  It is designed as a companion resource to the one travel guide that every modern traveler actually uses: the internet.  This is a book meant to be used in conjunction with the latest technology, rather than in spite of it.

Bulky, rarely-used Lonely Planets are slowly disappearing from traveler’s bags around the world and no book on the market today can make a strong case to replace them.  The Wayfarer’s Handbook is that book.  Information on destinations, the very value of which depends on it being both current and highly personalized, has logically moved online.  But relevant information on the art of travel, which was once also partially provided by travel guides, has not followed such a clear cut evolutionary path.  This has resulted in a unique opportunity for a book to advise, entertain, and inform modern travelers about the journey itself.