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Lonely Planet’s City Guide Apps: Why I’ll Never Buy a Paper Guide Book Again

When I travel with my husband, I feel like his personal sherpa. I love him to the moon and back but because I carry a purse, I get saddled with carrying the guide book, the metal thermos of water, the brochures, etc. Two hours into a castle tour and my back is killing me.

My solution? Lose the guide book and lighten the load.

Lonely planet

We just returned from a three-country tour of Central Europe and I only bought a paper guide book for one destination. For the other two I tried out Lonely Planet’s iPhone City Guides and I was hooked. My purse was significantly lighter and the apps were far better than a traditional paper book.

Tempted? Here’s how it works.

You download the free Lonely Planet app to your phone or mobile device. Then you shop via the app for your specific destinations. Most city apps are a very reasonable $5.99. Compare that to the average cost of a paper guide book (approximately $15) and you’ve got my attention. The city app quickly downloads and all info is cached on your phone. This means that you won’t need WiFi to use it, which is important in places like Budapest where WiFi is a precious and rare commodity.

In addition to having the usual chapters on the history, where to eat, where to sleep, etc., the app comes with an interactive map that shows you exactly where the recommendations are. Plus, should you find some free WiFi, you can locate yourself on that map. Nifty!


This means the pros are: lighter, cheaper, and better. Still need more convincing? Well, increasingly studies and articles are pointing to the fact that ebooks are also better for the environment so you can probably add greener to the list too.

There were, of course, a few drawbacks. We vastly preferred the Budapest app to the Vienna one. The layout was easier to navigate. However, for some strange reason, Lonely Planet removed my favorite sorting filter from the Budapest app: our pick. I rely on the editors’ picks for restaurants and bars and was sad to see this feature missing. It seems like they’re still perfecting things, but already the apps are far superior to the books in my opinion.

Want to try out a city guide for free? Download the free Lonely Planet app now and check out the free sample app for San Francisco. It’s a good look at how the other apps work.


My name: Alison Presley

Nickname: Presbo, because I'm good police.

How I earn my keep: I'm the manager of Travelocity's Travel for Good program. Visit Travel for Good to learn more about our green travel and voluntourism initiatives!

What kind of traveler am I: I'm an intrepid food explorer. I usually starve myself on the plane (not that that's too hard to do) so that the moment my toes touch foreign soil I'm ready to sample new and exciting cuisine. I like to dine everywhere from hole-in-the-wall local secrets to Michelin Guide gems. Cannel├ęs, poi, boiled peanuts, oxtail soup, poutine--there's no stopping this adventurous palate.

Greatest travel lesson I've learned: It doesn't cost a lot of money to do good. Offsetting your carbon impact only adds a few bucks to your trip, green hotels are very affordable, and volunteering locally during your vacation is a great way to give back and learn about the culture.

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