Travel Tips: Making the Most of the Guidebook

When we are truly on vacation, as in not traveling to visit family or on a quick weekend trip, one of the first things we do to prepare for the trip is to purchase a guidebook for the destination.  For many reasons we need “the book” to make our trip complete.

Just a little beach reading in Guatemala…

1. Overview of our Destination. I love reading about some of the history of the country, city, etc in which we are traveling.  The background gives me perspective when I arrive.  To really appreciate the new place, it’s important to have some information to base the new experience on.  It also doesn’t hurt to brush-up on a few key phrases if you don’t speak the language, as well as cultural norms and customs.

2. Roughly Plan our Days.  After learning all about the destination, we look at the number of days we have to spend, and configure a rough itinerary.  Depending on the size of the and scope of the place, this might include booking multiple lodging spots.  I’m not talking a strict hour by hour itinerary, but just knowing a little bit about what we might do each day gets me excited, and helps me prepare.

3. Find “Off the Beaten Track” Spots.  On many occasions, we have found spots, we never would have found just driving around.  In Iceland, it was the Turf Farm that served delicious hot cocoa and Iceland’s version of a doughnut.  In Guatemala, it was the special tour of La Playa Blanca, and the hidden waterfalls.  The more you read, the more you know!

A picnic on the Big Island of Hawaii? Yes! Also note the book is not too far away.

4. Orientation Upon Arrival.  When I arrive, by reading the book, it’s like I’ve put a face to a name.  I’ve read, then get a bit of a visual, then read some more.  Sometimes it’s even easier to take in some of the history and background once you’ve arrived because you have something to base your sights on.

5. Mark it up. When we find something we really want to do, we make a note in the book.  We underline, star, dog-ear, and highlight to make the book our own.  When we find places to visit from other sources like the newspaper, blogs, magazines, and word of mouth, we are sure to make a note in the book too.  That way, all our perspective plans are all together in one central place.

Hiking in Iceland with the trusty book by his side.

The guidebook: Just one of the many resources we use to plan a truly special travel experience!


This post is part of Travel Tips Tuesday on WalkingOn Travels and Suitcases and Sippy Cups.  For tons more travel tips, check out their sites!

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4 thoughts on “Travel Tips: Making the Most of the Guidebook

    • Wow! I’ve never seen that, Michelle. Well they are highly valuable! I think you are right. Store owners probably got tired of the constant use without buying…

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