Open Letter to Lonely Planet

Folks can debate about who puts out the best guidebooks.  A lot of people brag about not using guidebooks at all, but the fact is it can be really helpful to have information in a format you’re familiar with.  These days, I feel fairly confident traveling.  But I wish I had a Lonely Planet for regular life – when I’m not traveling.   Hence, the somewhat embarrassing letter below.  What can I say? Sometimes, the planet isn’t the only one that’s lonely!

Lonely Planet Head Office
Locked Bag 1,
Victoria 3011Australia

August 30, 2007

Dear Editors at Lonely Planet,

I wonder if you could be so kind as to help me out with a problem.  In two weeks, I am set to take off to China.  The plan is that I will teach English for six months and then spend a few months traveling.  But just last week, a bloke I’ve had a crush on for ages asked me out to dinner.  (Why he had to wait until now, when I’m moving to the other side of the world, I don’t know.)  I still need to pack, finish organizing my visa, etc.  But instead I’m distracted by worrying about the upcoming date.

I believe that one of the reasons for my misplaced angst is that I have your useful book to guide me in China.  Yet I have no such guidance for dinner on Tuesday night.  Therefore, it would really help me out if you’d publish the following:

The guidebook I need. (based on a photo by José María Mateos)

I’m sure your staff all over the world could offer useful insights and expertise.   The information I need would fit easily in your standard format.

  • History– what do I need to know about this guy?
  • Orientation – I always feel disoriented when I’m around him. Help.
  • Eating – I’m supposed to pick the restaurant.  What do I do?  Elegant and romantic (and thus probably pricey), or cheap and filling.  I need your listings with options in all price ranges.
  • Sleeping – Well, the question is obvious, isn’t it? As above, how cheap should I be?
  • Getting Around – see Sleeping

Of course the information in your appendices and directories would be helpful as well:

  • Conversation Essentials
  • Money
  • Legal Matters (in case things don’t go well…)

I suppose that it is unlikely that you can put this book together before my date on Tuesday.  However, since it is quite likely that five years will go by before I get another date, I can hope that the book will be ready for me by then.

Thank you for your consideration and understanding.  After all, it is a lonely planet.


Jennifer Choban

Epilogue: To the best of my knowledge this book still does not exist.  Tuesday night went well and I even got to enjoy a second date.  This was followed by me making a fool of myself by trying to spark a relationship from the other side of the planet and him inviting an ex-girlfriend to move in with him.  Ah, life!

Published in People to Meet

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Meet the Author

Seasoned traveler, avid reader, over-eater, clumsy but determined hiker and wannabe Spanish-speaker.


  1. Bret @ Green Global Travel

    I imagine if there really was a great guidebook to matters of the heart, modern relationships would be a lot less messy. Unfortunately, I’ve never met a single individual I’d consider qualified to write it! Best of luck with the transitions you’re going through…

  2. Jennifer Choban Post author

    Thanks. Things worked out for the best. You make a good point about qualifications- one of those situations where more experience does not necessarily indicate more expertise.

  3. Elmer Cruz

    I only got a chance to read this now. I am sure a lot of people would really read such a guide book if it existed. Closest thing i can suggest is Sex and the City by Candace Bushnell. I will post a link to this article on my fb.

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