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Leave guidebooks behind by downloading MP3 audio tours

SmarterTravel

While I love a good guidebook, I’m always hesitant to carry it around in public. Next to the fanny pack, there might be no other item that screams “tourist” louder.

There is a new alternative, however. Many travel companies are now offering destination tours and guides via MP3 files, easily downloaded to an MP3 player. Audio guides are also ideal if you want to learn more about a given site, but aren’t a fan of group tours.

Here’s a sampling of what’s available:

  • Author Rick Steves currently has four audio walking tours of France, and 12 of Italy.
  • AudioSnacks provides a virtual clearinghouse of narrated tours, with offerings from Disney and Frommer’s, among others. Search by city or country to narrow destination choices, or just browse the many listings.
  • Tourcaster‘s offerings are extensive, with a host of specialized tours available such as “The Complete Sydney Package” and “Classic Florence.”
  • Nowadays, many convention and visitors bureaus (CVB) have customized local podcasts. For example, Philadelphia recently added podcast tours, narrated by locals, on topics ranging from food to African-American heritage sites. Visit the CVB website of your chosen destination and look for links to “podcasts,” “audio tours,” and the like.

If all else fails, simply Google your destination along with “podcast tour” or “MP3 audio tour,” then choose the one that best fits your interests. Grab your walking shoes and your earbuds, and you’re all set!

Have a great travel tip you’d like to share? Send your insider travel strategies to editor@smartertravel.com.

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