There was a time when young travellers had to designate a large portion of their backpack to hefty tomes along the lines of the Lonely Planet guide, but now it seems that the backpacker who books online also favours ebooks.
Dublin-headquartered HostelWorld.com offers free, downloadable electronic pocket guides in the form of a PDF that can be saved and read from a computer or a smart phone.
The site’s selection of pocket guides for cities all over the world have proved popular and have reached the one million download mark: “Downloadable PDF guides are becoming more and more popular with the tech-savvy backpacker market, which is increasingly turning away from the traditional guidebook in lieu of something more up-to-date and compact,” said Colm Hanratty, editor of Hostelworld.com.
“Our guides are unique because they are specifically aimed at our target market, outlining great places to eat, drink and visit that suit our customers’ budget and lifestyle.”
Over the past year, Hostelworld has been working on augmenting this selection of guides, focusing in particular on Asia and it now has a total of 40 PDF guides available.
“We now have downloadable guides for Bangkok, Beijing, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore and Tokyo. However, our most popular guides remain those for the European cities – London, Paris, Rome and Barcelona,” said Colm Hanratty, editor of Hostelworld.com.
Along with the visual guides come the aural – the site also features a selection of podcasts that talk travellers through some of the most popular destinations worldwide and give tips on unmissable tourist spots like the Anne Frank house in Amsterdam or the best surfing areas around Sydney.
The market for tourist podcasts and e-guides certainly seems to be growing with a recent survey by HostelWorld indicating that 35pc of backpackers bring laptops with them, while 71pc bring an MP3 player or iPod.
By Marie Boran