I read advice today that is redefining the theme of the Lonely Planet guidebook. I was studying the city of Puerto Plata in the north of Dominican Republic when I came up on this quote.
“A taxi to or from the airport cost US$25. Cheapskates can also walk to 500m from the terminal to the main highway, where they can flag down a gua-gua to Puerto Plata. (US$1.20)”
He called me a Cheapskates
I have purchased about 50-70 Lonely Planet guidebooks, I must call myself a rather loyal person, not that there is much competition, but still, I know the book, and have no problem recommending readers to purchase. Generally rich or poor, a person is silly not to purchase a Lonely Planet before they visit a country. Or Footprints, Roughguides, or Let’s Go, I think moon may have a few worth buying.
Miragoane, Haiti - Ayiti - Sunday, November 22, 2009 Travel Gear
Maureen and Tony Wheeler. Co-Founders of Lonely Planet Guidebook.
“series of travel books aimed at backpackers and other low-cost travellers.”
Quote from Wikipedia.org
The book calls me a Cheapskates
Saving $US 23.80, this will pay for one, if not two nights in a Puerto Plata Hotel. The travel writer did good, he told me the price of the Taxi, this is just correct, the book is a guide. But in the spirit of the Aussies who founded this line of Guidebooks, I think he has lost the plot. This splurge mentality, this flashpacker way of life has invaded the book, it is not the Lonely Planet I learn to love.
I spend more money in one year of travel than average USA worker makes in one year.
The Beginning of Lonely Planet
There were old hippie trails between Australia and England, whereby travelers would save money enough money to live for a year to make the journey.
Right now, there is a person dreaming of coming to Haiti who is reading this Blog, or even the Dominican Republic. A college student, a person searching for a dream. They are afraid, they want to know, how much money does it cost to live in Haiti for two months? How much money to live in Dominican Republic, lying on the beach and windsurfing? What can this person do, they are not slackers, they are not cheapskates. Normally they are your sons and daughters, they are college students who feel the need to explore the world, but they just do not have the big money.
What do I know? I would guarantee 99 percent of the travel writers of the planet are sitting in their house, not traveling while I travel 99 percent of the time.
This is the go green travelers; this is the new story, the new buzzword, the new generation. There are two reasons a responsible traveler would take the gua-gua for US$1.20.
1. Saves energy, and lowers the amount of pollutants entering the atmosphere.
2. The BIG ONE is because 25 Dollars is about two days wages in Dominican Republic. For a person from a rich country to pay an exorbitant price inflates the local economy, making the cost of living go up for a person who truly cannot afford it.
I like the people of Haiti; I generally like the people I meet in all countries along the path. However, when the United Nations and Non Governmental Organizations, Missionaries and all the save-the-world people come to here, I think to myself,
“They do not care, or they would not over-inflate the local economy.”
The people of Haiti are competing with me, I have the money, and they do not. If I agree to pay the ridiculous prices, asked by Hotel owners, where will the locals sleep?
I was in Krabi, Thailand on the mainland, the locals could not afford the three wheel taxis called Tuk Tuk’s. Every driver was waiting for a foreigner to over-pay, the locals had to walk.
The theme of all the Hobo websites is budget travel, I am always making more money, and I can easily afford to pay my way through. But what about my nephews and nieces who are about to graduate from University can they afford to dream. I want them to travel the world on budget, learn to find good values. There reason the USA economy is in trouble, it because they never saved money for a rainy day.
What is the US$23.80 I would save?
That is the price of a hotel for three days. If I save US$23.80, I do not have to live and work in the USA for three days, plan a successful escape.
When the internet is easily available almost everywhere, backpackers will not buy a guidebook. All you need to enjoy yourself is a good map, a chat with some friendly local or unjaded expat, and the internet. I have never found a better price in a guidebook than I have found online, and for certain, the online price is never the best price. And this applies equally to when I travelled for a longer period and for when I spend 3 nights in switzerland or prague.
You're right on, as usual. My all time favourite thing about Lonely Planet now is that you can download chapters as PDF. I don't need to buy the whole country guide, just the chapter for where I'm going. These I can print off before I go, or load onto my cell phone, or take a copy on my USB pen drive. Or all 3. The City chapters from country guides are great, and the books that are sold about just one city are always, always, always a pile of ****. I have realised, not one city in the world has enough interesting things to do to fill a whole 200 page book. These city guides turn the most inane experience into a must-see-must-experience.
I'm sick of guidebooks. Ash's sources of information in rough order of usefulness:
people you know/ trust who have been to where you're going AND share your outlook/ approach to travel.
hobotraveler.com (in my case, I trust Andy, you fall into the above.)
The information that several guidebooks have in common.
friendly expat/ non-native hostel employee (in developing world)
friendly local (more useful in developed world where they may not need or want your money)
one single guidebook.
a fellow backpacker you meet in the place/ in previous destination.
some TV show/ newspaper article/ magazine article.
a travel agent.