Showdown Guide: Lonely Planet Vs. Fodor’s Travel

Smartphones, Wi-Fi, and GPS have made travel easier , but a physical travel guide is always a smart investment in traveling the world. Both Lonely Planet and Fodor’s have been around for decades, but it’s time to decide which travel guide deserves that coveted spot in your travel bag.


There is something about not having to rely on internet service or battery life, which makes travel guides an important part of exploring new directions . With one book, you can navigate, explore the culture and find hidden hotspots wherever you are. In fact, despite having all the great apps and online travel guides, travel guide sales are growing and they are coming back again. You have many options to choose from, but we’re comparing two of the most popular and comprehensive series of travel guides available:

  • Lonely Planet : In just over 40 years, Lonely Planet has printed over 120 million books and has become the world’s most successful travel publisher. They have published nearly 500 titles spanning 195 countries and are hiring travel and local writers to create or update each one. Lonely Planet guides cost around $ 22 for city / local guides and $ 25 to $ 30 for country guides.
  • Fodor’s Travel : Fodor’s has been providing travel tips and travel guides for 80 years. They prefer to hire local writers from each destination for their travel guides, rather than travel writers. In total, they have published over 300 travel guides to over 7,500 destinations around the world. Fodor guides cost around $ 20 for city / local guides and $ 25 for country guides.

The Lonely Planet guides are updated with new editions every two years or so. Fodor travel guides are also updated every two to three years depending on location. As a rule, the more popular the location, the more often the guide will be updated.

Layout and content: Lonely Planet dives into planning while Fodor introduces you to the culture

In terms of layout, the Lonely Planet guides use two-column pages with small print. It can be difficult to read if your eyes are tired or if you find it difficult to read without glasses. Fodor’s guides, however, use a larger font and keep their pages in one column. This makes their manuals much easier to read, but it comes at the cost of less information overall than the encyclopedic data crammed into every page of the Lonely Planet manual.

Lonely Planet divides its travel guides into four main sections:

  1. Plan your trip : This section contains all the important information you need to make your trip a reality. It includes a quick guide to culture and etiquette, a country map, popular attractions to see and do, a monthly calendar of major cultural events, route examples, ways to save money on your trip, and tips for traveling with kids. This section also includes sections on the country’s first time travelers, as well as a section on what’s new in the country for those who have been before (which you won’t find in Fodor travel guides).
  2. On the Road : This section is the very essence of the guide, it covers every single city / region in the country and breaks everything down. For each part of the city, the book highlights sights, events, festivals, events, nightlife, entertainment, shopping, where to eat and where to stay. Each individual ad has an address, phone number, website (if any), prices, and a very short description. There are also maps for specific areas.
  3. Understanding : If you want a better understanding of where you are traveling, Understanding covers everything you need to know: current events, history, people, cuisine, art, architecture, traditional living conditions, sports and the environment. … In the section “Plan your trip” there is a short textbook on culture, and in the section “Understand” it is more a course about the country and the people who live there.
  4. Survival Guide : As the name suggests, the Survival Guide section is designed to quickly get you started with everything you need to know about the country. Everything from transportation and medical care to outlets and toilets is covered by insurance. There is also a small section dedicated to important phrases that can help you if you get lost or need something.

Fodor’s guides cover a lot of the same material, as you’d expect, but organize things a little differently. Their guides are divided into five sections, which look like this:

  1. Experience [Country / Region] : The Experience section is similar to the Planning section in Lonely Planet. It covers current events, major attractions and experiences, etiquette, money saving tips and some planning suggestions, but takes a less is more approach over the Lonely Planet style of cramming as much information into every page as possible. This section is also filled with many full color photographs (which is definitely missing from the Lonely Planet guides).
  2. Introduction to [Country / Region] : This is the equivalent of the Understand section of the Lonely Planet guides, with detailed information on local art, pop culture, sports, current affairs, history, cuisine, environment, and even religion in this section. … Again, there are many images in this section to help you visualize the culture.
  3. City / Area Chapters : Like the Lonely Planet, these mini-guides for each city are the most informative parts of Fodor’s books. They include information on all attractions, activities, festivals, events, nightlife, entertainment, shopping, restaurants and hotels. And each individual ad has an address, phone number, website (if any), prices, and descriptions in addition to maps for specific areas.
  4. Understanding [Country / Region] : This is often a very short section that consists of several pages to help you understand the culture better, and also contains a set of basic phrases and reference material for decoding menu text.
  5. Travel Smart : Tips on transportation, accommodation, electricity, health care, emergencies, and safety. This is a less comprehensive version of the Survival Guide section of the Lonely Planet books.

In general, both books cover the same material, but with very different approaches. Front Fodor loads its guides with detailed cultural information and photographs, introducing you to the region before it starts tossing you information on how to get there. Lonely Planet does the opposite and assumes that you already know a little about the culture of the country. It keeps a summary of the culture for the future as a bonus, which is good if you just want to come in first and ask questions later .

The look and quality of the book: looks great, is easy to use and deserves the best

In terms of appearance, both series’ manuals are printed in paperback and look remarkably similar as far as their current print is concerned. Even their anchors follow the same visual pattern: “travel guide company name, country, slide-out map mention, location photo,” and both covers use the same shade of blue. If you weren’t paying attention, you could easily mistake them for each other as you walk past them in the bookstore.

However, Fodor’s definitely has an edge over Lonely Planet when it comes to overall quality. The current editions of their books are printed in full color on glossy textbook-like paper that seems to withstand even the toughest journeys. Lonely Planet currently uses thinner newspaper-like paper for pages that seem to rip easily. Despite the different page material, both books have sturdy covers and bindings that can withstand impact and stress in a small backpack with different gear. Both books can also be used fairly easily with one hand, but not for too long as they tend to get heavy. Lonely Planet books are generally slightly thicker than their Fodor counterparts, but their weight is usually about the same because newspaper-like pages are lighter.

Digital versions and mobile apps: both can be found on your favorite devices

If you don’t want to travel with a physical book (although I recommend it), Lonely Planet guides are available in EPUB, MOBI and PDF formats for your favorite ebook and tablet readers (in color if available). All of their guides are available on the Nook , Amazon Kindle , and most are free for Kindle Unlimited subscribers. Fodor travel guides are also available in e-book format (also in color if available), but can only be purchased on the Nook or Amazon Kindle .

The Guides by Lonely Planet app (shown in the video above) is free to download and use on iOS and Android devices and includes information on 38 different cities around the world. It also features offline maps and navigation, bookmarking points of interest and destinations, and more. The app will be a great addition to your travel guides, no matter which one you use. The same can be said for the Fodor’s City Guides app, which offers travel guides to 22 different cities around the world. The guides include recommendations from local writers by Fodor staff, maps, and the ability to filter search results for your destinations by price range and category. Unfortunately, the Fodor’s City Guides app is only available on iOS devices .

Lonely Planet for adventurers, Fodor’s for those looking for a guided experience

None of these will make you wrong when you travel, but each is better suited for a specific type of traveler. Lonely Planet gives you more information than you will ever need, which is good because you have a lot of fun for your money. While Lonely Planet guides may be more expensive than Fodor’s guides, they are still worth every penny. But this huge amount of information also means that you will have to study it all on your own in order to plan your trip. He tells you where you should go, but he doesn’t always show you. So think of this as a list of suggestions rather than an essay exploring the wonders of different parts of the world. If you’re happy with that, Lonely Planet is your best bet, period.

Fodor guides, on the other hand, represent a more elaborate experience and are better suited for show me the way travelers. And reading them is much more interesting. Their books generally have less information compared to Lonely Planet’s exhaustive array of guides, but it’s information you can live without (or find it somewhere on the internet). By narrowing their focus, Fodor’s manages to provide you with important information, as well as augmenting you with photos and descriptions that don’t “all work and play.” By reading Fodor’s travel guide, you can see your future journey unfold in your head. However, the Fodor guides hold your hand a little more, so it doesn’t feel like an adventure, but more of a planned vacation . This is perfect for some travelers, but for others (like me) the trip may seem too touristy.

If I summed up these guides to a friend, I would say that both books are like a box of LEGO bricks. In spite of everything, you have everything you need to organize a great trip. The only difference is that the Fodor box comes with an instruction booklet, while the Lonely Planet does not. How do you like to play?


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