Best Travel Guide Publisher
Let's Go! guides
Tell me about Let's Go! guides
If you're on a budget - really on a budget - then this is the travel guide for you. The hugely successful Let's Go series is researched, written, edited, cartographed and run entirely by students at Harvard University in the US, and has been ever since its inception 50 years ago. The series includes more than 50 guides to cities, countries and regions in Europe, America and Asia.
The guides are suitable for even the most hard-up of travellers. Early readers were told about a trip from Europe to Asia which would cost only four cents - the ferry ride across the Bosphorus in Istanbul. The guides are also witty and irreverent: the phrasebook introduced in 1967 contained expressions such as, "But I'm not like most Americans!" They're updated every year: the researchers are hired and trained in the spring and spend the summer vacation in their destination. The guides are then edited and published and are usually in bookstores by October.
Tell me more about Let's Go! guides
The guides were described as "value-packed, unbeatable, accurate and comprehensive" by the Los Angeles Times, while the Philadelphia Inquirer called them "arguably the most successful series of budget travel guides ever published." They've also received praise from The New York Times, The Washington Post and Mademoiselle. A popular section is the Beyond Tourism section, which tells readers how they can give something back to a destination through voluntary work or study.
The researchers are paid a daily allowance, which is only designed to cover basic expenses. As the website says: "With pen and notebook in hand and a few changes of underwear stuffed in our backpacks, we spend months roaming the globe in search of travel bargains."
Who are Let's Go?
Oliver Koppell was just 18 and a student at Harvard when he decided he wanted to create a travel guide for those who thought travel was beyond their reach. He teamed up with Harvard Student Agencies, the organisation which finds work for students, and sent dozens of eager researchers off to Europe the following summer to produce what became an annual guide to the continent.
The guide sold 6,500 copies in 1961; in 1968 it sold 65,000. In the 1970s, the team started producing guides to European countries and regions, as well as a guide to the USA. By 1997, the series had more than 20 guides, its own website, and was expanding into south America.
Who are the Let's Go guides aimed at?
The Let's Go website puts it best: "Readers both young and young at heart."