Don't try this at home

Some advice from travel guidebooks is best taken with a pinch of salt. Simon Calder unearths classic examples
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The Independent Travel

Lonely Planet this week celebrates its 30th anniversary. Along with Rough Guides and many other travel publishers, it has guided millions of travellers around the planet. Mostly, this is a good thing, from the host community's point of view as well as the tourist's. A good guidebook should ensure a traveller is informed about the nation's history, culture and social norms. They will get lost less frequently, get into less trouble, and enjoy the experience more. But some of the advice published in the past three decades may have led the traveller off the straight and narrow.

Lonely Planet this week celebrates its 30th anniversary. Along with Rough Guides and many other travel publishers, it has guided millions of travellers around the planet. Mostly, this is a good thing, from the host community's point of view as well as the tourist's. A good guidebook should ensure a traveller is informed about the nation's history, culture and social norms. They will get lost less frequently, get into less trouble, and enjoy the experience more. But some of the advice published in the past three decades may have led the traveller off the straight and narrow.

"Hygiene of the Afghan bakeries is not all one could ask, but many of them can supply extras like hash cookies."

Advice on marijuana in Afghanistan from 'Across Asia On The Cheap', 1973

"Despite English interference in the past, English-speaking people still seem to be popular."

Advice on Iraq from 'Across Asia On The Cheap', 1973

"As with all southern countries, a cholera-typhoid jab is a wise precaution."

Rough Guide to Portugal, 1st edition, 1983

"English 2p pieces work in most French Space Invaders machines; 5p pieces work as 1DM in German vending machines."

'Alternative London', 1982

"If you're about to go through the barrier and you realise your passport is out-of-date, keep cool and say nothing. It's amazing how often immigration officials fail to notice."

'Travellers Survival Kit Europe', 1st edition, 1976

"The grassy folds and slopes of motorway junctions can be quite cosy [for sleeping], but you are inclined to roll into ditches."

Hitch-hikers' Manual: Britain, 1983

"Put some money inside your passport. If you get robbed, the thieves do not usually take your passport or underwear."

Advice on Nicaragua from Lonely Planet, 1988

"Anything you want to gamble on the black market should not be declared when you enter the country."

Advice on Eastern Europe from 'Europe: a Manual for Hitch-hikers', 1980

"We passed a sign for the youth hostel which said 'Cold, hungry, tired, discriminating taste? Try our food. We play good Western music. No Barry Manilow or anything'."

Advice on China from Lonely Planet, 1988

"The average autostop participant is more neat, has better tourist equipment and his behaviour is more correct than it used to be with his predecessors in the first days of autostop."

Official Polish Guide to Hitch-hiking, 1984

"If you are discreet with smaller amounts you are probably OK, small busts can be bribed out of."

Advice on marijuana in Afghanistan from 'Across Asia On The Cheap', 1978

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