26 August 2008

Planning a trip!

How do you plan your trips? On the floor with an old National Geographic map spread out? Is yours an anthropological approach or adventure oriented? I've been known to just look in my purse and calculate how far that amount of money would take me! When I lived in Knoxville that sometimes meant to the nearest Burger King!

I will hardly leave the country, whichever one I happen to be in when planning my trip, without checking out Lonely Planet's guide to my destination. They give all kinds of useful information, some of which is subject to change with time, but the most useful tips are often the most credible local tourist websites and what to read before I go.

I know, I'm a bit of a freak, but I like to understand a bit about a place before I go there. I'm more likely to understand processes, time consciousness, values and frame of reference if I've read some works, even fiction, on a place and culture. While it's not serious anthropological study, it's interesting and cause my pleasure in travel to begin even before I get on the plane, or boat or train. Right now I am reading Holy Cow!, one woman's insight into being foreign in India. I have three others on my bedside table.

Another site I like is Trip Advisor. They have reviews from those who have been there recently, or maybe from owners of the hotel or tour company, but overall, a good source of info from on the ground.

Lonely Planet's Thorn Tree Forums is another good source to hear from people who are there or who know about the places you're interested in. It's where the LP travel community get together to exchange travel information, advice, hints and tips.

For photos, have you been on to Google Maps and seen where travellers have uploaded photos and anchored them to the locale on the maps? I actually got warm looking at those lovely beaces in Thailand yesterday! Just click on MORE near the top of the map and it'll give you the option to show photos.

Luggage Online suggests 50 or so sites.
Times Online UK suggests 50.
CNN lists their top 25 complete with picking the best seat on the plane Seatguru.com and a currency converter Xe.com so you can plan your budget before you go.

What about you? Even if it is the local bus timetable, where do you go before you go? Share your tips!

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