By Michael Carignan
When planning a trip don’t forget to do the research. Look for new and exciting things to do where you are visiting but also don’t ignore the fun things you do at home that may be fun things to incorporate into the stay away from home.
You know your own interests but also consider those of your travel companion(s).
Ask yourself the questions, “What do I want to do most? What does this place offer that unique, exciting, different? Especially consider those things you enjoy but don’t get to do as much as you would like to at home. It could be simple stuff like a hot tub, massage, fishing, boating, swimming, hiking, antiquing, photography, dune buggies, cooking, music, birding, museums… the list can go on forever,
When at home what is it you enjoy doing the most?” If you don’t include at least some of those things into the trip it won’t be as fun as it could be. Whatever it everyone enjoys incorporate it into the trip. Don’t forget the “me time.”
If you do the research before you go you’ll be able to get more into a trip and more out of it as well. Know your limits however.
The best place to start researching is with friends and relatives that may have visited the place you are going to. Ask them what they did there. What they liked and didn’t like. What the weather was like, where they ate, anything that may be of value.
The second best place to start researching these days is online. Wikepedia will tell you about the city, state or country. This will be just general information but it will be helpful none-the-less.
Another place I like to begin my research is with travel shows. Experienced travel programs like Rick Steves’ Europe, Burt Wolf, Rudy Maxa, Travels to the Edge with Art Wolf and Joseph Rosendo’s Travelscope, Equitrekking, Globe Trekker, Where in the West Are We and Grannies on Safari can pretty much take you around the world. Go to their websites and see what different episodes they have and if there is one about where you plan to go. These are invaluable. Your local library may be able to get the episodes you want without paying anything.
While we’re on the subject of libraries don’t overlook the selection of travel books available.
Another great source of information are tourism websites for states, regions or countries. These will highlight what the locals consider their main attractions as well as schedules of events for while you are visiting. Some states have regular newsletters they will send you via email or downloadable tourist booklets or e-zines as well as hardcopies they will send you for the cost of postage. For the latter be sure to order them with enough time for them to send them out and for you to peruse them.
Chambers of Commerce are also a great source of information. They can tell you business in the area but also often have schedules of events as well.
Ask friends that like to travel if they’ve been where you are going. If they have, let them fill you in on what they experienced and enjoyed the most.
Finally, travel agents will charge you a fee but they can be great resources as well as far as getting information for you.
Do the research. You won’t regret it.