Accommodations have been arranged. Transportation has been taken care of. Now it is time to get ready. Planning, and the anticipation building up before the trip can almost be as exciting as actually traveling. Get your escape from the everyday by researching before your trip.
1. Check out the Library
Guidebooks, fiction, nonfiction, they’ve got it all. When I first decide where I’m going, I raid the shelves. I typically check out 20 or more books to start the investigation. What do I want to see? What do I want to do? Who can I live through vicariously until my own departure date?
Beyond researching through nonfiction, you may also want to consider browsing the fiction section. Reading a story about the setting you will be visiting can spark an interest in something you may not have considered. I loved the novel, Sarah’s Key. Although it is historical fiction, it made me wonder what kind of deportation memorials exist in Paris.
2. Pop Some Popcorn and Watch a Movie
Watching a movie is a little escape. Why not visit your destination in a movie? Midnight in Paris is a great example of a movie I watch, and feel as though I am there. Don’t count out the visual as a way to learn and see what is out there.
3. Hover Over Forums
Most likely, others have traveled to where you want to go, and are sharing their experiences. TripAdvisor, Fodor’s, Lonely Planet, and Rick Steves have great discussion boards ready for comments and questions.
4. Follow Blogs
I have learned about markets, events, and other happenings through the news on other blogs. There are so many resources. I love following expat blogs. They typically have a similar perspective to mine, but are living where I am visiting. As you know, wordpress has some great blogs.
5. Take a Class
I would be a professional student if I could, so I’m a little impartial to taking classes. Community education courses can be an affordable way to learn more without going back to the loan days. I’ve taken writing and photography classes before traveling. I also see value in language and art history classes. The more you know about a place before you visit, the more you can comprehend.
6. Call your Credit Card Company
It would be quite a bummer to finally reach your destination, go to a restaurant to grab some dinner, and after trying to pay with your credit card, realize that it has been blocked. Even if you are traveling in your own country, I would recommend calling to notify about travel dates. The more you can prepare ahead of time, the smoother your journey will go.
7. Contact you Cell Phone Provider
This is very similar to the cell phone. I had a friend who traveled to Indiana and her cell phone went kaput. I’ve also had issues with going abroad and it not working right away. Talk to your cell phone company to see what your phone is capable of. Warning: data charges can be outrageous. Make sure you are clear about all charges when traveling.
Shoes are probably the most important item to evaluate for your trip. Sore feet are no good. I take at least two types are wear them before I go. This is an area that I spend a little more on since it greatly impacts my ability to explore.
Besides your kicks, also think about your clothing. I check out the climate to have an idea what to expect, but also bring clothing that is warmer and cooler than necessary. Think about foldability and flexibility. Will it wrinkle like crazy? Can you wear it in more than one way? Worse case scenario: you have to go do a little shopping.