Travel Guides–Physical versus E-Book

On my recent trip to Cambodia, I took both physical and electronic travel guides.  Here is a short pro/con list I made up for each format.

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  • It doesn’t take up any additional weight in your luggage.  This wasn’t a concern for me on the way to Cambodia, but I could’ve lived without the kg’s on the return trip.
  • You can highlight parts/do a search making it easier to locate specific things within the book.  This made it quite easy when I was reading up on locations during breakfast.


  • In the bright light of day (or a low battery) it becomes an issue to work with an e-book as you have to push your screen brightness to the max (especially somewhere like Cambodia–less a concern in other spots around the globe)

Paper Books


  • Not battery dependent, will not disappear the second your phone/tablet dies
  • You can mark it up and bend the pages to quickly find what you’re looking for (or my personal favorite–use post-its)


  • It’s additional weight not just in your luggage but to carry around during the day.  If you’re spending the day hiking, it can be terrible.


In the end, I didn’t have much use for the physical books once I left the hotel, and I only tended to read my e-book at breakfast, during lunch, and sometimes during the drive from one place to another.  I think for my next trip I might prefer an e-book, but I’m likely to get a copy of both or two different books, one in each format as I feel like I’m still beta-testing the idea of not using a physical book

What about you guys?  Prefer one format over the other?  Think I’m really old fashioned for reading guidebooks at all when the internet is there?

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