I’ve been playing around with Offbeat Guides, an online travel site that aggregates data from a number of websites to create your own personalized guide to a specific city. They say they can make a custom travel guide for over 30,000 travel destinations.
You put in the following info:
• The city you’re going to
• The place you come from (so it can customize exchange rates and so on)
• What dates you’re traveling (so it can include weather info, plus any special events going on)
• Where you’re staying (so it can generate maps for your exact location)
Then it generates a customized guide for you, which includes chapters such as:
• Get around
• Get out (what’s nearby)
You can browse through the guide, eliminate sections if you think you don’t need them, and then either download it as a PDF (for $9.95) or have them print and bind and send an actual booklet to you, plus send the PDF (for $24.95).
The benefit is that the information is supposedly extremely up to date, as opposed to buying a guidebook at the bookstore which may be a few years old. The info comes from Wikitravel, AccuWeather, Google Maps, Eventful, and many other sites, plus they seem to have some of their own written content.
Based on the guide they assembled for me, I’d say the most useful section is definitely the events. Most cities, other than huge ones like LA and London, don’t have a lot of change in bars, restaurants, and sightseeing.
It’s also hard to tell what kind of editorial direction is at work in choosing bars and restaurants for inclusion. If the Offbeat Guides’ selections are similar to my tastes, I’ll definitely be more likely to use their custom guides again.