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Choose Your Own Adventure

China is a fantastic country. China is also an enormous country, and enormous countries equal enormous guidebooks. Seriously, the Lonely Planet China—which I carried around with me for two weeks last summer—comes in at a whopping 1012 pages and weighs close to two pounds. And since I was only visiting Beijing and Shanghai on that trip, meaning I only really looked at two sections of the book with any frequency, I’m estimating that I carried around about 700 pages and a pound and a half more paper than I actually needed.

But there’s good news for travelers with weak upper body strength: Lonely Planet has just come up with a solution to slim down its more portly tomes with a concept it calls the Pick & Mix.

If you’ve got an Internet connection, a printer, and a severe case of wanderlust, you can select and purchase individual chapters from a range of LP guidebooks, downloading them as PDFs and then printing them out to slip into the top of your suitcase. And if you’re the proud owner of, say, a BlackBerry or an iPhone, of course, you can even download the content to the device, nix the printing, and carry around your own Lonely Planet content digitally, negating a need for paper entirely. And not only is the content identical to that in the paper guidebooks, it’s often even more current as well, as chapters are available prior to the release of the book.

Most chapters cost somewhere between $2 and $4 each to download, although it’s worth noting that you’ll get a discount when you purchase a few at once. If you’re heading off on a trip soon, you might want to try Pick & Mix for free, which you can do by downloading the Planning chapter from each book, which includes the Getting Started, Snapshots, and Itineraries sections.

Since only Latin America, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America are being offered at the moment while Pick & Mix in its trial run, I’ll have to wait a little while until I can custom-tailor my next China guidebook experience. One thing’s for sure: the very first chapter I download is going to be the one at the back with all the useful phrases in it. Trust me, I’ve learned the hard way: wild hand gestures can only get you so far.

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Comments

NB
Reply

Lonely Planet “Rural Northern California” here I come! Of course, that wasn’t a very thick book to begin with.

May
Reply

They’d better hurry up and release Pick and Mix for Thailand! I’ve got a honeymoon coming up.

But, Holly, I have a question for you. What do you think is the best line of travel books? Frommer’s? Lonely Planet? Fodor’s? Those DK books?

Charlie
Reply

Very cool, Holly! Guide books, while easy to spend hours poring over the facts and photos, really can be a pain while traveling, particularly when you don’t have a home base.
The Pick & Mix is a very cool idea but it’s tough for me to decide: I hate wasting paper, but I’m also a bit of a Luddite when it comes to PDAs and the like.
At least now you have a pretty doorstop.

Business Travel Logue
Reply

I’m headed to China this month myself, and I’m really hesitant to get a guide when I’ll only be in the Shenyang area. Wish they already had the Pick & Mix available.

Ditto for Australia, also one huge chunk of a country when you only have a few weeks vaca…

Business Travel Logue
Reply

I’m headed to China this month myself, and I’m really hesitant to get a guide when I’ll only be in the Shenyang area for a few days. Wish they already had the Pick & Mix available.

Ditto for Australia, also one huge chunk of a country when you only have a few weeks vaca…

skokie
Reply

Nice! As a fellow backpacker, this is SUCH a relief! On an 8 month trip 4 years ago (*sob*), I had to rely on picking up the LP for the next country I was heading to at a local travelers bookshop- my Egypt one is from the mid-’90s!

chinaonecall
Reply

Although they might not yet have the downloadable pick and mix for LP China yet there are city guides for Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong last time I checked, there may even be more now.

Hotel Pictures in Vegas
Reply

I am planning for a trip to Shanghai in the next month.This book will really come handy as don’t know much about Shanghai.Thanks for the info.

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