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I bought this in WH Smith the other day - or rather it was my mum who kindly offered to buy me a magazine. I took a good look around at the shop's many magazines and usually I know what I like and that is specialist subject-type magazines but they can be quite expensive. I saw some under these categories but they were hovering around the £5 mark and there's no way that I'd pick up a magazine that expensive and hand it to someone who'd offer to buy me one; I'd feel bad. So over by all the travel magazines was one that looked interesting: Lonely Planet magazine. I was drawn to it because of the places it mentioned on the cover: Croatia (especially Dubrovnik) and San Francisco, particularly, as well as a free travel guide sample to Barcelona, a city I cannot wait to revisit. It cost £3.80.
Now let me just tell you I've not traveled half as much as I'd like to and yet to venture outside this continent so I'm probably not as worldly as some of you, or at least not outside my head, but feel as though I have somewhat of a traveler's soul. I have known it since I began studying atlases and drawing (terrible) pictures of city skylines at aged 7; then I developed that sense of wanderlust - you know, when you look at perfect (probably photoshopped) pictures of another place, then look around you and want to cry. Suddenly everywhere seems to be more interesting, even if it is not. I mean, genuinely, do you get such a big moon hovering over the Manhattan skyline every night? Is the sky in Paris always that blue in springtime (even though it is a short distance from London, which has a 'grey' reputation)? Do you get a perfect sunset glimmering off the Thames if you walk along Waterloo Bridge every evening? Of course not but we are all taken in by this world of fantasy - it looks better so it must be! I'm also curious as a mouse so the chance to explore other cultures or go somewhere more diverse is very exciting. I'm not one of those who says the UK is awful and the rest of the world is perfect because there are places in our green and pleasant land I really am desperate to visit as well. What struck me about Lonely Planet's front cover is the balance between domestic locations they featured such as East London and the South Downs, and also more far flung destinations such as California, Iceland and Croatia. This means it not only caters to differing tastes in travel but acknowledges our own homeland as a worthy travel destination.
I made presumptions that Lonely Planet were quite pretentious and smug in their writing so was unsure of whether I'd enjoy this but was proved wrong, at least in this magazine. That said, I do like that they seem more original in their picks. If someone came to me asking about London or the Isle of Wight, where I live I'd like to be able to point them in the direction of more original destinations, places with character and interesting locals, and a soul; rather than just the London Eye, Big Ben or the Needles, respectively. I realise people do want to see these places but there are so many untapped locations in so many places that go unnoticed and un-visited on the whole. Lonely Planet seems to pick out some more obscure ideas which I like.
~ Cover ~
It's a glossy and relatively thick magazine and because it comes with a free extract booklet of Lonely Planet's Pocket Guide of Catalonia's much heralded capital, it is wrapped in that plastic packaging; on the packaging you have blue on the back and text and it's transparent enough to the front to be able to see the cover of the magazine itself of course. What's on that? At the top of the magazine you have the famous Lonely Planet logo in its white text and blue box with the date - in this case it's the July 2012 edition - as well as the website: lonelyplanet.com. Stretched along the a strip at the far top, of the front of the magazine it states: 'Travel magazine of the year' in white, on a sky blue background. That should ensure it sells more, then.
On its cover you also have a stunning photograph of a beautiful Mustang driving along an empty Californian highway, with rural Death Valley scenery and bright blue sky. Most of the text is written in white which reflects nicely against that colourful West Coast scenery except the words 'California' and 'Croatia' which tell you these are the major two destinations the magazine is featuring this month. Beneath 'California' it is offering the ultimate road trip between San Francisco and Hollywood, and the perfect holiday to unspoilt coast and historic towns in Croatia. Three slightly smaller but still eye catching white pieces of text to the side tell you the magazine also features the Pyrenees, 'easy summer escapes' which are Amsterdam, Iceland, London, Paris & the Cotswolds and also walking through England's newest national park: the South Downs. At the bottom of the glossy page it says, '6 mini guides to keep' - more of this a little bit later. All in all it's a bright and beautiful cover and not at all cluttered. I think that this and having looked at some past Lonely Planet magazine covers, thrive on the temptation of the photograph on the front and its colourful appeal rather than adding lots of text. I said earlier about looking at 'perfect' photos and dreaming of being there and I think photographs are probably the most powerful thing in tourism persuasion so the magazine really revolves around the Californian photography and probably the Lonely Planet logo.
~ Inside the magazine ~
So what are we greeted with beneath the glossy exterior? I open it and remove the free Barcelona guide then the magazine, then you have to dispose of the plastic wrapping. Then it is that wonderful twenty first century phenomenal known as 'lots of junk falling out of pages of magazine'! I was greeted with about five separate pieces of advertising: Graze boxes, Direct Line insurance, The Economist, Ocado and fairly large pullout like a mini newspaper regarding a third world charity. Although it may just introduce you to new charities or items worth buying, one of the last things people require at the minute is being told to spend more money OR waste paper. That said, I can understand why organisations have to exploit all areas of advertising, especially currently, and especially charities.
Opening the magazine and we're greeted with our very first visual piece of advertising on the inside of the cover, which is typical of most magazines: this one being a holiday-orientated one as you'd expect promoting Taiwan with Cox & Kings. On the adjacent page you've got the names of the editorial, publishing, management teams et al as well as contact details of how to get in touch and a list of the magazine's awards. In tiny writing at the bottom it mentions it is 'wholly owned' by BBC Worldwide. To the right of that there's the editor's piece and names of the issue's contributors. Further on in you've got the contents et al. Then there are one or two little captions on ordinary people's travel experiences. One man reviewing an Oxford hotel he and his wife spent their honeymoon. He answers questions about its positives and negatives. An acid test pf the magazine's audience is the price of the accommodation: £95 per night. Then again, it was on their honeymoon.
Another person gives a brisk insight into their first (Cornwall), best (St. Martin) and worst (Tenerife) holidays. I just point out that it is not necessarily the place itself which makes it their worst experience. I won't give away any more because I don't want to put anyone off buying this month's issue but it's nice to have some honest, ordinary opinions. Then we have our second interior advert advertising Dalmatia and Dubrovnik. Wait a minute, we might go (in my dreams) but we haven't got to that part of the magazine yet!
Turning the pages and we have pages called 'Postcards' where it seems ordinary readers can send in their photographs and explain their experiences. These include Jordan, Mauritania, Coonoor, Slovenia, Tibet and Tanzania. These don't seem to be cheap package holidays to the beach, let's say. They're not necessarily obscure but certainly exotic destinations and the photographs, if truly taken by the reader, seem very intimate and beautiful. In fact, Aaron G. Morris - a teacher from Manchester - has taken a stunning shot of the desert in the Wadi Rum. Truly gorgeous, golden sand dunes, far and wide that rise up and seem to make it look like another planet, literally. None of these are blurry family snaps on the digital camera. These guys have to be travelers in the purest sense of the world - I'm not sure I'd qualify in this part, wherever I go on to next!
Further on we've got more pages of (luxury) travel advertising and subscription service. The subscription form is early on so they must be confident you like it enough already. Lonely Planet's website editor Tom Hall offers news and tip offs in a brief section, this featuring Buenos Aires, Seoul, the euro, Manhattan's skyline and Kenya travelling guidelines. Tony Wheeler, who is described by the magazine as 'The man who can't stop exploring' puts his venture from New York to Southampton via the ocean into his column. A different feature when you turn the page is 'Isle of the Tiger': a double page spread about big cats in the UK. Of course wildlife is a major part of some tourist's trips but I never expected a piece like this. I'm disappointed that the Isle of Wight never got a mention in the 'big cat spottings' piece since we're rumoured to have our own wild cat (or dog) roaming in around and even jumping through windows and scaring us humans.
A few pages along we have undoubtedly the centrepiece of this issue: 'The Road to Hollywood'. We're back to that front cover Mustang again, continuing its journey along the Death Valley highway. The photography again is simply gorgeous. Oh in my dreams will I! With the exception of the title - in Wild West-style font - and the short description the first page of this section is dominated by the Californian scenery, again. Over the page and the top half has a marvelous photograph of the Golden Gate Bridge. Beneath is writing which explains San Francisco's links with Hollywood with quotes from the lady who is trying to establish the city's first film museum (what a surprise to read it doesn't have one already).
The beautiful photos and film talk continues in an extensive piece spread across over ten pages, taking the Golden State's diverse beauty from San Francisco to the desert. I particularly love the Wild West section, its mention of the many cowboy adventures filmed there and a local lady who used to witness Humphrey Bogart and Cary Grant filming in the ragged plains of where she grew up. Naturally the trip from San Francisco ends in Hollywood. Lonely Planet also gives advice on climate, getting around and flight prices.
Closer to home and the next big extract of the magazine, again with stunning photography and plenty of anecdotes of a contributor's experience we are taken on a picturesque and fascinating journey through the South Downs in the south. Once again, basic travel information is provided but to receive more of course they tell you which Lonely Planet travel guide you should buy.
Turning the page some more and we're greeted with the headline, 'The Perfect Trip - Croatia'. This is my favourite part of this particular magazine and it certainly broadened my knowledge of a place I'm so desperate to visit. Again, the photography clearly derives from a pretty good photographer and only serves to increase my burning sense of wanderlust. The main photograph is of an typical shot of Dubrovnik: azure sea, red rooftops and Medieval ruins surrounding it. Inside that page there's a map of the region pointing out the areas the magazine talks about in their Croatian itinerary.
It talks of some good destinations within Croatia such as national parks such as Plitvice and towns like Pula & Split, and gives you some day trip ideas which included towns as far as Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro, which is wonderful. Their accommodation choices are not ridiculously priced but they're not hostel priced - their picks range from about £50 to over £100 and priced under 'budget', 'mid-range' and 'luxury'. I'm very drawn to Central and Eastern Europe, and Dubrovnik has been a dream destination since I was younger so this is perfect; however the pieces on Plitvice Lakes and Paklenica national parks are just as terrific. It also gives a seasoned local's point of view such as Plitvice's park ranger and a Dubrovnik musical legend, Delo Jusic, hence I learned about the city's musical soul, which I knew little about. Obviously if you're not interested in this area, it might provide a different level of enjoyment - if it were about the south of France, although I've been and liked it, I might not be so enthusiastic as I'm not that way inclined but the beautiful photographs and written word in most of the magazine keep you entertained, wherever it's about, wherever you love or dream of visiting.
In fact there is a spread involving France - the Pyrenees and the Roncal Valley. This piece has plenty of photographs and plenty of written word describing the history and traditions of the Spanish-French relationship in the villages of the region and I enjoyed this again due to its interaction with locals, beautiful photographs and history. I think that the place comes to life and becomes more interesting with a locale's description, since I've personally only ever seen the southern tip of the Pyrenees. I particularly liked the photograph of the local ladies wearing their traditional costume.
Much further and amongst other smaller sections, including books, we have a question and anwser piece with the BBC's Alan Yentob and further travel advertising. Lonely Planet retains a mainly crisp, white background throughout only broken up by colourful photography, so it's always interesting and clear.
Nearer the end of the magazine we have some 'cutout guides' to fold and keep. These are like mini guides to a handful of destinations: East London (UK), Kent, Northumberland, Porto and the Douro, Milan and the Cyclades. These are small but packed with little tidbits of interesting information on each place such as accommodation, restaurants and attractions as well as small photographs and a map of each area; although I've not yet cut any of them out. I wasn't sure if East London was our East End or East London in South Africa at first but it is in fact the capital, which makes a refreshing change from the West End. My spiritual home is north London but I'm very partial to the charming soul that is the East End ;) The Porto and the Douro cutout reminded me to restudy Portugal since it was a place I chose to study in college whose knowledge has since departed my head.
Last part and we have a competition. It's a 'luxury' two night break in London worth £2,600, apparently. You've probably seen it a million times - the silhouette of the London Eye with Big Ben in the background, set against a backdrop of an evening sunset. That is there to entice you. I think that the final page is just as important as the first, since when in a shop we often flick through the pages and it's all too easy to look at the back first, as much as the front - see a competition and some people are definitely like to buy on that basis.
~ Free Gift ~
Oh yes and the free gift: its little booklet, which like the full pocket books is pocket sized, is actually quite an impressive extract! It is over 60 pages' worth of the £7.99 Pocket Guide, giving you plenty of detail on Barcelona's restaurants, sights, accommodation, beaches, shopping and so on, as well as some lovely photographs. I also found out that the smug tone I expected wasn't as bad as I presumed so taking into account this free booklet, I'd certainly buy the full Pocket Guide.
I already own a couple of really good pocket sized guides to the city anyway, so it might just persuade me to buy a Lonely Planet Pocket Guide to another city, instead. I never expect a gift from magazines but this is a good free gift and how often do you say that?
All in all a magazine that I thoroughly enjoyed. Nice layout, some varied destinations and stunning photographs.
Lonely Planet Magazine was launched in December 2008. Owned by the BBC, I first heard about it through another BBC Magazine I was reading nearly 7 months ago.
Published monthly, the first issue I bought was in December last year (in which a Lonely Planet 2010 calendar was also included). The magazine showcases three different contributors every month and that particular issue promised articles by Michael Palin, Marcel Theroux and Tim Moore. That was enough to draw me in. Incidentally, the front cover claimed, "I was shaking as much as it's possible to shake in an aeroplane seat" - Michael Palin. Our National Treasure suffering a near death experience maybe? Who wouldn't want to read more?
At first glance, I thought a glossy magazine like this would be aimed at people with far more disposable income than me, seeking inspiration in terms of where to go on holiday. Recent covers would confirm this: South Africa, Australia, Cambodia and Peru. Not exactly aimed at families on shoestring budgets, or even gap year students.
My heart nearly skipped a beat, though, when I noticed my first issue contained a lowdown on the 'UK's 10 Cosiest Pubs'. Not only seasonal (this was December after all, and what's nicer than being by a real fire in a nice pub on a cold day?), but also more within my price range.
There are nearly 140 pages in each edition, and all but the Mini Guides are printed on good quality glossy paper. The Mini Guides are on what I would think is recycled paper, ideal for tearing out and folding, although as I've not used any, I couldn't guarantee their durability.
The first main page is the Editorial page. I usually skim read this column simply because it's mainly about plugging the guidebooks (the 100 millionth has recently slid off the printing presses) or suggesting you join the magazine for their second year by taking out a subscription. At the bottom of this page though, we're introduced to the highlighted contributors that month, together with 3 beautiful photos from articles inside the magazine.
The contents page is a double page spread with more beautiful photos taken on location and in the centre, a globe which instantly pinpoints where the magazine is going.
Something noteworthy is the length the magazine goes to to maintain its integrity. Although their journalists may be using one specific airline or hotel, they always publish details of all the available travel suppliers and not just plug those who gave them assistance. For example, for April's edition, Marcel Theroux travelled to Cambodia. Although there are no direct flights from the UK, it lists many options including a total of 7 airlines which can get you there.
Of course, the articles aren't intended as an alternative to guide books (certainly not their own guide books) but as a taster to countries I might know little about I can't really fault it. Their regular contributors write good quality articles (given Marcel Theroux spent time trekking around the UK with his dad Paul for The Kingdom By The Sea it's hardly surprising) and the photos are stunning. For more immediate and up to date facts or travel information the magazine wins hands down over any guide book.
I also like the variety of articles the magazine has. For instance, flick back from the relatively sobering article on Cambodia and it's people and you'll find one on Peru. Not on the obvious Machu Pichu, but the vibrant city (or so it says) of Trujillo in northern Peru at Festival time. The photos almost come alive from the page and make me want to join in the fiesta too!
Moving nearer to home than either Cambodia or Peru, one of the articles I find the most interesting is entitled 10 Easy Trips. For those without the money or time to explore further afield, they recommend 10 places which you may know of but have never been to. March's edition featured Greenwich Naval College, London and La Cuisine Paris school amongst others. Having walked past the National Maritime Museum and around Greenwich Park many times, I'm fairly familiar with the territory, but I hadn't realised a new Visitor Centre and exhibition have recently opened there, or that the Naval College "serves modern European food in smart, unstuffy surroundings" in the Inside Restaurant. A restaurant I would be more than happy to visit, should I get the chance.
As for the chic lessons in French cuisine, "the multilingual classes last up to three hours, leaving plenty of time to explore the city afterwards. Sessions cover everything from French pastries and a walking tour of markets, to the secrets of haute cuisine...and (you) finish off the day with a few glasses of fine French wine." Starting at £31 for a one hour class I think it would be a wasted experience for me, the only parts I would enjoy are the walking and drinking. Still, they manage to make it sound so much nicer than a pub crawl around my neighbourhood.
Readers get a surprising amount of input into the magazine too. By joining their Readers Panel you may get invited to participate in any one of a number of upcoming features. A regular feature, which may be of interest to ciao members is called Share with us. One reader every month gets to stay in a hotel on behalf of the magazine and write a review of it. Turn the page and another reader gives us the lowdown on their holiday experiences, entitled My first, best and worse (pretty much self explanatory).
A small criticism of mine is that the reader panel seem to be mainly comprised of those living within England. For instance, food and drink critic Matthew Fort had written the (10 page) review of the magazines' 10 favourite pubs I have already mentioned. This was immediately followed by a lowdown of 8 pubs which were recommended by the magazines Reader panel. Although Forts' article covered pubs from Belfast to Wester Ross, the readers panel comprised pubs all but two of which were in England. I'm sure there's no bias on the magazines' behalf, so this must be simply down to a lack of interest from readers wanting to join up from other parts of the UK.
Also, I'm unsure as to the benefit of their Mini Guides. Every issue includes 6 of these which you tear out and keep. They all include little maps. I imagine the West End in London one is more beneficial than say that of Tyrol, Austria. The Tyrol map being of the same size, it includes virtually all of Austria and some of Germany and Italy to boot. The West End map would be of use to stick in your pocket, but a map of the whole of Austria? Hardly useful if you get lost walking.
Although the magazine has plenty of advertising, I can't say I find it intrusive. They're mainly by travel specialists, showcasing holidays as varied as Bhutan, Yemen or Portugal. Fat face also seems to feature regularly too and often include money off vouchers to spend in their stores if you have one nearby.
~ Price and availability ~
Every issue I've read encourages you to sign up to buy by direct debit and get the magazine delivered to your door, but I've yet to do that. I've bought every copy from my local WH Smiths (other good newsagents/stationers also available). The reason being, I like to have a quick rifle through it first, to see if enough grabs my interest to want to buy it - yes I am one of those annoying people who stand in the aisles flicking through magazines and getting in everyone's way. But only once a month.
£3.50 is the price at the till, but there seems to be a continuous offer of three issues for £1, should you be tempted enough to sign a direct debit mandate. I'm happy to pay full price for those issues which either contain articles by contributors I like, or feature articles that pique my interest.
~ Some useful facts ~
Don't drink Naphtha fuel. It's meant for cookers, and Sir Ranulph Fiennes was none too impressed when one of his Siberian security guards drank theirs.
Whilst filming Pole to Pole, the small propeller plane Michael Palin and his crew were in had difficulty landing on the North Pole. By the third landing attempt he was "shaking as much as it's possible to shake in an aeroplane seat". So there you have it.
I got this magazine for my Husband for christmas on a Subscription deal from the BBC.
It cost £15.00 for 6 months. I'm not sure how much it costs to buy this from a shop but I imagine it's around at the £3.00 mark, so I think £15.00 for 6 months was pretty good. They are currently doing an offer where you can get the first 3 issues for £1.00 each when you subscribe though.
I got this for my husband as he loves geography and learning about the world and seeing pictures of places and building up the list of places for us to visit. I know that a lot of back packers and travellers also recommend this magazine, but that was not the purpose I got it for.
The magazine seems to have a couple of main features in each issue about certain regions. These are always very descriptive and have loads of ideas of things to do and place to go within that region, they very often also have stunning pictures to accompany the articles.
They do also focus quite a few pages on the uk, which is very helpful for us as we are planning to do some camping over the next few years and it is giving us loads of ideas of places in the uk to visit.
There is always a food related article in this magazine too. Whether it be sampling cuisine in foreign lands, or information about cooking courses in the uk, it's very diverse. We also saw an article about mushroom foraging in this book and there was a place you could go on a course for that.
The articles in this magazine always seem very in depth, and cover all the relevant information you would need if travelling to the destination they are writing about. They tell you some amazing facts, and things you didn't know about places.
My husband loves this magazine, and I think he will renew his subscription when it runs out. I do very often read it after he has finished too (sometimes before). I find it extremely informative and easy to read. It's great to learn about different places and add them to our list of places to visit. The pictures are amazing, and the articles are always well written. I would definitely recommend it.
Lonely Planet magazine is an offshoot from the travel guides. At a price of £1 for the first six episodes I thought there was no problem in signing up just to see what it was like.
I was wrong. Since lonely planet have been bought out by the BBC they seem to have lost their backpacker vibe. The magazine was advertised as for the budget traveller (like myself) but when I recieved it there was no indication of this in the articles inside.
What was wrong with it?
- There are ''budget travel guides'' advertising ''cheap'' rooms at £30+ a night which in my experience is really rather expensive when travelling on a shoestring. These were in places which I know from experience you can get a nice private room for around £4.
- I can't help but feel like the magazine exploits places a little. I mean yeah its great to be told about the newest undiscovered places, but when thats being done by a huge company there is going to be less and less of these in existance. Be better to do what they used to in the books, suggest a country/place and leave subtle hints theres a little more to it so you do the exploring yourself.
- After being unimpressed 3 issues in i rang up to cancel my order (absolute nightmare as there were no numbers anywhere on the bbc magazines website) only to be told it would not be cancelled until i had paid a years subscription in full.
- £1 is extremely cheap. If you try it and like it (or have bought it in the shops before and like it) then its worth doing.
- Pull out city guides are featured in every episode. These include places in the UK which is nice for just a weekend away!
- Articles by writers talking about their experiences are featured every issue, my favourite bit. They tend to be quite nice and interesting.
- Season guide telling the best times to go where.
- Every month there is a featured country with a load of information (usually accompanied by a writers story!) good to keep for future reference.
So all in all, no it isn't a bad magazine. I just feel it is portrayed to be marketed to a better off audience rather than the budget traveller, which can be a little misleading.