How to research
Can I just say that I heart flag highlighters?! For those of you who don’t know what a flag highlighter is I feel sorry for you. But not to worry, I will show you:
I use them for everything!! I flag cookbooks, travel books, and basically anything that I might want to reference in the future. It is a genius invention; I could and would not want to live without them.
That being said, once I have my newly purchased flag highlighters the next step is getting the guide book. For my research, I always always always always begin with a Frommer’s guidebook. It is my guidebook of choice. No matter where I go I get that book. I love the layout as well as the kind and quality of information presented. It usually comes with a map that is detailed oriented but easy to follow. This purchase allows you to skip having to buy a map when you arrive at your destination. I also MUST purchase the book of the year I am going. For example if I am planning a trip for next year I will not buy the guidebook now because it will be 2011’s version and I will want 2012. The reason for this is twofold: I have some kind of psychosis so the incorrect year will bother me and more rationally I want the most up to date information. As a heads up, according to Frommer’s website, “Frommer's guides with the year in the title (i.e., Frommer's Italy 2005) are published every year. Frommer's guides with an edition number (i.e., Frommer's Virgin Islands, 6th edition) are published every two years. In between publication dates, many of our authors submit online updates to keep readers abreast of changes in the destinations they cover. These updates are available at Frommers.com.” The guides with the year in the title typically come out every September/October for the following year. But this is easy enough to confirm online.
Now, because I am a nut like I mentioned before, I trust no one. I always double check a restaurant or attraction’s website to verify details. This isn’t because Frommer’s is unreliable, but rather because anything can change from the time of printing. If a travel site/destination or a meal is a must do for me, then I must double check. It has been my experience that simply contacting a website email through its system offers a quick turnaround with up-to- date information. When I planned my 2009 trip to Europe I had many exchanges with my Paris hotel concierge about every attraction in town. These half English/ half French communications were immensely helpful. I find that people who want to show off their hometown/country, etc. are very willing, and proud to do so. So take whatever information they have to offer; it will come in handy one way or another.
The guidebook also serves to tell you what to book ahead of time and what reservations to make. I always do what they say (hey, they are the experts) and include it in my itinerary as a reminder. But more about itineraries tomorrow.
After doing your own research it can be helpful to speak to a travel agent for further guidance on fares, attractions, and even booking your trip. I know we are all so dependent on the internet these days but it is nice to hear from a professional the pros and cons of an area, what to watch out for, and what not to miss out on. It is also nice to have a person to yell at and to help fix your problems if something goes wrong. If you know anyone who has been to this region before, they too may have some pertinent advice for you. Information is like butter, you can never have enough!
To begin research on your next trip check out:
Check back tomorrow For a Game Plan Part III- The itinerary!