7 Reasons True Travelers Should Leave the Guidebook At Home

Learn about all three levels of fun and why the guidebook does more harm than help on a proper backpacking adventure.

Travis W. King
10 min readJul 13, 2022


The guidebook biz is still booming, and more travel advice is being published every minute. My travel advice for the day is to leave the guidebook at home, and here are my top 7 reasons why.

1. You’ll leave more room for magic.

Photo by Jarritos Mexican Soda on Unsplas

My favorite travel word, favorite travel feeling, and one of my favorite things in life overall is the feeling of serendipity. When it feels like the world is speaking to you. When you take steps on the invisible bridge and it just keeps appearing in front of you (yes that was an Indiana Jones reference).

In travel life, serendipity is felt most intensely when a series of unplanned events lead to one of your all-time favorite stories.

Having a travel guide that’s highlighted and earmarked for all of your day's adventures, meals, travel plans, and accommodations is a sure-fire way to leave little to no room for these moments of serendipity. You’re leaving no room for magic with a full schedule.

Following a travel guide to a restaurant that is supposed to have good tacos, and then eating good tacos is one thing. Getting lost in a city, meeting some locals, having them take you to their favorite taco stand, and then having the best pastor tacos you’ve ever had — that is the universe taking care of you. That is a story worth telling, and it never happens if you’re following the guide.

2. You’re likely to meet more people and make more friends without one.

Myself in a speedo, jumping into the sea somewhere in Peru.

Bouncing around to different hostels and meeting travelers along the way, one thing about the running dialogue becomes very clear. The perpetual conversation that you cannot escape is… [drumroll]… you guessed itTRAVELING!

Every traveler loves to swap stories, give out recommendations, and share their favorite “Level…



Travis W. King

Traveling, writing, & working abroad for 10 years. Former Remote Year Dir. of Community. Check out my travel memoir—Not That Anyone Asked—at www.traviswking.com