I remember a trip to Ireland about 15 years ago. We drove across the entire country.
How did we know where to go? We purchased an Irish road atlas from a travel store. I also used Mapquest (yes, remember Mapquest?!) to pull up the step-by-step directions on my home computer, then I printed them out and brought the printed directions on our trip.
Now, I often travel to cities and don’t even do restaurant research ahead of time. I just use my Google Map to find-top rated restaurants “near me.”
As we plan our extended trip for my sabbatical, here are the top unique travel resources I’m relying on to plan our search.
Top Travel Resources for Planning a Trip
We have become so incredibly dependent on the internet, but it’s not always the best (or easiest to use) resource for trip planning. Here are some unique travel resources you can use to plan your trip.
1. The Internet: Googling Itineraries
Ok, we aren’t going to get away from the internet altogether. But how exactly do you use it to plan a trip?
First, I start with searching for itineraries for the country we are headed to. For example, you might search for a two-week itinerary for a trip to Spain or a one-week Itinerary for a trip to Italy.
In my post detailing how to answer the question “where should I travel next internationally,” I talked about scrolling through pictures. So, searching through itineraries should be done once you have a rough sense of where you want to go.
2. The Internet: Trip Advisor
As much as Trip Advisor has become a sales engine for various paid excursions, it’s still a good resource for finding some good places to see, hotel reviews, and top tourist sites at your destination.
3. Your Local Library: Books
Once we have settled on a destination and have a rough sense of an itinerary, the internet can become a hole of unhelpful junk. As a result, I turn to books.
Specifically, I hit my local library and check out every single book recently published on my destination. I bring them home, skim through them, and choose my favorite two or three.
4. Your Local Bookstore: More Books
If you’re going to do an international trip the right way, I highly encourage you to purchase the top one or two travel books you find at the library.
One of my favorites is always the Eyewitness Guides. There are great pictures and maps that you actually want to bring into a museum with you to guide you through a tour. Better yet, sometimes they have specialty books.
For instance, I purchased the Eyewitness Guide to French Cheese. It was one of the best things I brought on a trip to France! I cannot overstate the value of a good travel guide as a necessary resource for your international trip
5. Travel Shows
Remember that Ireland trip I mentioned? One of our favorite spots was a pub recommended in a Rick Steves episode about a trip to Dingle, Ireland.
Check out various travel shows (whether they are generic travel shows like Rick Steves or specific shows like adventurous eating in Moscow) for another medium to consult when planning your trip.
6. Friends and Family
Last but not least, tell friends and family about your trip and find out if they have visited or know anyone who has.
Even if they visited a long time ago, it’s worth finding out what was most memorable about the trip and trying to pack it into your itinerary.
The Bottom Line
The best parts of traveling tend to be when you’ve gotten off the beaten path. No matter how many resources you consult and how detailed your trip itinerary is, don’t hesitate to modify it once you’re in-country.
Always remember that local recommendations can be the best part of any trip.
This post is part of our Sabbatical Sundays series. To read more, click here.