Or angles from elsewhere.
The bits we read
Most of us will only use the part of a guidebook that covers the place we’re going to. OK, we might read the front section about the history and culture as well, but we’ll generally not bother looking at the areas we’re not going to.
Cover to cover?
Guidebooks are not designed to be read from cover to cover, but for the travel journalist it pays to read the sections that aren’t immediately relevant to you. This for a few reasons:
Firstly, it gives a more rounded view of the country as a whole, perhaps offering a comparison point to the place you are going to. Secondly, you’ll probably find a place that you may wish to go to in future (and could maybe fit into the planned trip).
Thirdly, and most importantly, you may discover some good angles that can be used for round-up stories down the line. Even better, they may spark ideas for those stories.
Do it in down time
I’m not going to pretend that this is an exciting task, and this is why I do it when I have nothing else to do – sat on a train, waiting for a meal to arrive when I’ve got the traditional table for one, on the plane...
Brilliant story angles
I’ve done a bit of all three today, and have been idly flicking through the Germany Lonely Planet. Amongst the brilliant story angles I’ve uncovered are a theme park at an old nuclear power station, the world’s oldest youth hostel and the German Occupational Health and Safety Museum. There’s a good story each one, and I may try and work them into a trip for another time.