Welcome to another Cheapskate Friday where we focus this week on European travel guidebook giveaways. And without doubt, the one site at the top of the pile as far as backpacker guidebook freebies go has to be www.inyourpocket.com.
So, What is In Your Pocket?
In Your Pocket is the brainchild of German Matthias Lufkens and Belgian brothers George, Oliver and Nicolas Ortiz, who, since 1991, have been building up a catalogue of European urban guides into the tremendous resource that it is today.
Essentially, In Your Pocket offer quick guides to a large number of European countries and in depth guides to over 50 European cities. The countries covered are detailed on their map (right) and link directly to their country guides from where you can explore and bask in their selection of lively, refreshing and honest guides. But don’t just take my word for it, check them out yourselves.
Free AND Geeky…I love it!
But not only are these guides excellent, they are free too – yep, the backpacker’s favourite flavour. Also, they’re not just on-site wonders. Guides to each featured European city can be downloaded for free in PDF format - and since more folks are beginning to travel with laptops/PDA’s these days, this could prove to be a real bonus. I particularly like the PDF option as otherwise it means downloading stacks of pages onto a memory stick (like on other sites) and sifting through them later. Here, they are all in a neat little package. A free e-book travel guide? Make that very neat.
If you have a way to read them (either internet café or laptop/PDA), then, arguably, these guides have enough information within to forgo the necessity of a guidebook altogether and to still feel fully briefed - but even without a laptop you could print them out easily enough. Before, for instance, if I were to stay in a city for a length of time without a guidebook, I would try and find the tourism office or airport or main bus station etc and stagger away 20 minutes later laden with pamphlets and fliers and leaflets and subsequently sift through them to get the gist of a city’s attractions, highlights, transport networks, and to find out what’s going on where etc But here the research and sifting has already been done and (because it’s an altogether different publication from other more widespread travel guides) it also means less chance of becoming the latest addition to the Lonely Planet backpacker conga stretching between the ‘highly recommended’ hostel to the ‘must see’ attraction.
Is this the end of the Guidebook as we know it?
For those thinking of backpacking in Europe without a guidebook but are a little apprehensive about doing so for the first time, these guides could provide a happy medium. And for those that hate the thought of forking out cash for a full on guidebook when the are only visiting a few choice cities, these guides are a must.
Here’s the list of In Your Pocket European City Guides to give you an idea of the quality and quantity on offer.
Nb. The incredible amount of work that has gone into these guides is solely attributable to the creators of In Your Pocket. We are in no way claiming any of the credit for it, they’re simply a great resource and one worth sharing.
The guides themselves aren’t solely for backpackers though as they do contain information on a whole host of things to suit all tastes and budgets – but the real boon for those backpacking around Europe on shoestring are that these guides are free, frequently updated and are chock full of useful info and handy resources such as city maps, transport network information, and tips for the first time visitor.
More Than Just Free Downloads
But that’s not all. In addition to these pocket European city guides there are also smaller, instant city guides available covering cities sometimes overlooked by the travel publishing industry – like Minsk in Belarus, Jurmala in Latvia, Nida and Druskininkai in Lithuania, and Cesky Krumlov in the Czech Republic. Here’s the full list of European cities covered by instant guides:-
Accurate and free city guides, instant guides, and country guides all in one place is a bit of a bonus in itself, but throw into the equation a well written, regularly updated blog and other equally nice asides such as articles and video clips and you have a site worthy of any internet café bookmark. Head over to In Your Pocket to see it all in action.
Other European city guides worthy of mention include a selection from Hostelworld - although these are fairly light and fluffy in comparison those offered at Inyourpocket.com – and, for the multimedia buffs, a whole range of audio guides for iPods can be found at Podcityguides and TechRepublic.
And if you’re prepared to spend the time to dig a little deeper, many more individual guides can be unearthed - although these seem to be generally spread out over several sites dedicated to those particular places. Given time we’ll dig a few more out and put them in some semblance of order - but until then: happy digging!