So you’ve chosen your destination, and you’re counting down the days until you leave for your trip. You’re ready for your next step: researching your destination! Although the process may seem daunting at first glance, you have endless resources at your disposal, especially via the internet. Learning more about your destination is not only exciting, but putting in a little time researching ensures that you’ll be well prepared for when you step off of the plane.
There are many excellent ways to gather information on your destination. The following are a few of the methods that I have found most helpful.
Check Out Travel Blogs
Blogs by other travelers who have been to the locations to which you’ll travel are a great resource. They’ve been there before you, so they can provide a first-hand perspective on the destination, activities, and more. As a bonus, many of them aren’t afraid to write about their mistakes. This way, you don’t have to repeat the same errors, which can save you time, money, and sanity.
Try to find a blogger with the same preferences (and budget) as you. After all, it won’t be beneficial if the writer has completely different interests than you do. If they prefer luxury travel, and you’d rather backpack on a shoestring budget, their advice likely won’t benefit you very much.
Note that some blog posts are sponsored by travel companies, hotels, or restaurants, so they may be slightly biased. You should take such posts with a grain of salt.
If you don’t find an answer to a specific question, you could always send the blogger who wrote about the destination an email. Although they may be too busy to answer questions, it is certainly worth a try. Keep it short and respectful, and they may be happy to respond with their best advice.
Another valuable resource is TripAdvisor. The website provides information and ratings about hotels, restaurants, tour companies, attractions, and more for destinations across the globe. You can read reviews left by travelers who have been there before. Many also upload images from their trip so you can get a good glimpse of what your trip will look like.
The website also has a helpful forum section where you can ask questions and have others answer them directly. Chances are, someone has asked a similar question about where you are headed, so you can quickly find answers.
Don’t forget that you can also leave your reviews to help out your fellow travelers!
TripAdvisor is also available as a convenient mobile app. You can create an itinerary, and even pinpoint all the locations on a map so you always have everything on hand.
Buy (or Borrow) Guide Books
Although there are countless resources available online, nothing beats thumbing through a physical copy of a guide book. The books usually include information about history, culture, and language so you’ll get a well-rounded guide to your destination. Many also contain safety tips and more. Unlike online information, you won’t need any wifi to access the information in your guidebook, which can be helpful if you don’t have access to the internet where you are.
Although some people prefer to borrow guidebooks, others prefer having their own copy. This allows you to highlight portions and mark up the text with your thoughts. Some handbooks also contain maps you can tear out, which is something you may want to avoid with a friend’s copy.
One note about guidebooks is that they may become out of date relatively quickly. Cities are always changing, so be sure to keep this in mind. When you purchase a guidebook, make sure to buy the most recent publication.
Ask Others Who Have Been There
Chances are, you have someone in your network who has traveled, or knows somebody who has traveled to the destination you have in mind. See if you can make a connection with someone who has been there before. Most people love talking about their travels, so chances are they would be more than happy to meet up with you and share what they know. Consider their level of experience, likes and dislikes, and budget before you meet up. All of these factors can impact their experience.
These methods of researching your trip are a strong place to start. As you explore your destination, you may discover even more ways of gathering information.