Travel Tools: When Should You Buy Guidebooks and Maps?

We just collected our parcel which contained a map and driving guidebook to outback Australia.  My son ripped the parcel open and had first reader privileges in the car.  I commandeered the documents after we arrived home.

The smell and crackle of a previously unopened map and guidebook fairly reeks with possibilities.  Purchase of these documents is an unambiguous indicator that we are committed to the trip and it is within our short term planning horizon. 

Our usual approach when planning a holiday is to obtain as much information as possible from the internet, travel agent brochures and guide books borrowed from the library. A guidebook purchased too early which never fulfils its true potential is a sad thing. 

If we rushed out and bought travel reference materials every time we had a possible vacation idea we would have a shelf full of abandoned inspirations and possible works in progress.  I much prefer to look at shelves containing guidebooks of trips we have completed.  I fondly note the plethora of stains, ripped out pages and handwritten notes.  Their job is done.

Leading up to our purchase of the map and guidebook was a travel planning phase of approximately four months.  We created multiple versions of possible trip itineraries using Google Maps.

We have recently finalized our Outback Australia Itinerary and our trip will shortly commence.  As a result it is the right time to invest in more detailed travel reference material which we can use whilst on the road.

Seeing the map in large scale is fantastic.  I can now see in clear detail where we are planning to drive, and I have better confidence that the map road information is accurate.  It is also easier to identify potential attractions to visit along our planned route.

We will be undertaking a number of driving routes on unsealed roads, so the map reveals with great clarity whether the unsealed sections are highways, major roads, minor roads or tracks.  This is important information to ensure that we select the safest route options for a two wheel drive vehicle, especially as our three young children will be accompanying us.

The guidebook we purchased has detailed information about our proposed route, including photographs showing points along the route which are very enlightening about the nature of the terrain.  And has the side benefit of further stimulating my desire to visit such a barren landscape.

I look forward to our pristine map and guidebook acquiring the marks of hard usage.  They will be well used by the time their purpose is fulfilled.