Newest Review: ... driving along an empty Californian highway, with rural Death Valley scenery and bright blue sky. Most of the text is written in white w... more
Only the Lonely... Planet Magazine: Travel Magazine of the Year
Lonely Planet Magazine
Member Name: Goonerette89
Lonely Planet Magazine
Date: 03/07/12, updated on 03/07/12 (130 review reads)
Advantages: Photographs, diverse destination choices, good info, free gift, locale insights, layout.
Disadvantages: Some places may be out of the 'holiday' price range. You're not able to jump into the photographs!
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.
Summary: Travel magazine of the year ;)