A couple months ago I decided to go travelling. I wasn't really sure where to, I just needed a change. In the end I decided on India, because I've never been, and I'd always heard what a great place it was to go.
I didn't take much; a backpack, some clothes, and the Lonely Planet Guide to India. To be honest, I didn't even start reading it until I got on the plane. What I discovered was that it wasn't just something you read once, it's something to have with you the whole time.
Whatever your plans, the chances are you're going to lose your way or make mistakes or just change your mind, and that's where this book is essential. It's like The Hitchhikers' Guide to the Galaxy - no matter what need you're in, it has an answer for you. Maps, essential sites, local customs, everything you need to get by in this incredible country.
At first, I wasn't sure if I could manage by myself. You realise how much you rely on other people for so much. I found myself retreating, thinking about home, wanting to go back. But then I'd pick up the Lonely Planet, and find something to do, somewhere to go. And soon I was relying on it less and less, and after a while, hardly at all. Before I knew it, I'd been gone two months and hadn't thought about home in weeks. The book isn't India, it's a way in.
Over the course of my time away, the only thing I came back with that I took with me was this book; everything else I left behind; I realised in the end nothing else really mattered.