The old hand of travel websites, the Lonely Planet travel forum Thorn Tree has been providing sage advice to travellers online since 1996.
Just like the ubiquitous Lonely Planet guides that no backpacker can do without, Thorn Tree offers online destination guides and forum posts with details that rival no other.
One of every five guide books bought in the world is by Lonely Planet.
Whether you want to know about safety and scams in Thailand or fuel prices for a road trip around Canada, a member of the Thorn Tree community has posted about it.
Like the Lonely Planet guides, Thorn Tree provides great advice for travellers heading to a destination for the first time, with information on currencies, transport, areas to avoid and local customs.
If you want advice on itineraries and must see sights, whether it is for a gap year in Europe or backpacking through India, this is the place to post your questions. Just prepare to be inundated with suggestions and tips from people who live and breathe travel – there are members who have provided 12,000 plus responses to forum posts and counting.
That said, just like you wouldn’t buy a Lonely Planet guide expecting advice on the best room at the Ritz in London, this isn’t the place to be searching for luxury travel tips.
Each forum branch is organised by destination, but don’t go posting a question until you have first read over the FAQ section to check if the answer has already been provided for you.
These FAQ posts are incredibly detailed, and the Thorn Tree members who provide advice 24-7 understandably get pretty annoyed when the sixth person that day asks the best way to get around Croatia, so do your research first.
While not technically part of the Thorn Tree forum, don’t forget to also check out the Lonely Planet destination guides which are still part of the same site. These professionally written articles provide great basic information and ideas for things to do in each country.
The sheer depth of information on Thorn Tree is super impressive. Each destination home page has so much information – from etiquette, bus tickets and average taxi fares – chances are you will struggle to come up with a new question to post.
Expertise. Many of the people answering questions on Thorn Tree are either locals or experts on the area and have great tips on things to see and do and where to stay.
Because the forums are based around regions and countries, as opposed to just cities, you can ask about the top three places to see in Mexico, or the best way to travel around Eastern Europe in two weeks.
The site is plain confusing at times and difficult to navigate. The forum’s layout means you frequently end up scrolling through pages and pages of data on the local airport to find information on train services.
Thorn Tree community members take the site seriously. There is a very ordered way of running the forum, so don’t just jump in with any random question or risk getting pulled back into line!
Lonely Planet still needs to make money, so of course there is more information in the books than there is online. If you are still after a full Lonely Planet take on a particular destination, the hard copy guide will have more to offer.
While clunky at times, Thorn Tree is useful for travellers keen to get a basic understanding of a destination they know nothing about, and also for those wanting to get some specific advice on their travel plans from locals and experts.