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More you know the better your vacation

A reader recently asked “what is your favorite on-line travel guide book? And do you prefer an online source or a printed book?”

While there are a ton of on line travel reference sources one site that I really like is www.lonelyplanet.com. Another favorite is www.guides.gta-travel.com.

Both of these locations are user friendly and supply a wealth of information.

Key information points that I like to obtain from a travel guide are:

Introduction

What to see and do

Sample itineraries

Where to stay-a range of local accommodations

How to get there and to get around once you’ve arrived

What to shop for

What local food and drink to enjoy

Entertainment

Sightseeing excursions and must sees.

Money, business and banking

How to communicate on location and back home

Any health concerns and safety precautions

Local language phrasebook

I also like to visit the official sites of the country, region and or cities that I’m traveling to. For example on an Ireland adventure I’d use the above resources plus also visit http://www.discoverireland.com/us/.

From here I’d branch off and read about Dublin, Killarney, Cork and so forth.

The Tourism Offices Worldwide Directory (www.towd.com) is a great guide to official tourist information sources: government tourism offices, convention and visitors bureaus, chambers of commerce, and similar organizations that provide free, accurate, and unbiased travel information to the public.

Conducting in depth destination research has frequently led me off the beaten tourist path and directed me towards some interesting discoveries and explorations.

While assembling a Germany itinerary I came across the city of Idar-Oberstein located Rhineland-Palatinate region.

It wasn’t terribly too far off of my route so I detoured over and spent a wonderful day in the capital of the German Gemstone Industry.

In addition to wonderful gem and jewelry shops I discovered some delectable local delicacies in a gasthaus (a German pub/bed and breakfast). It was well worth the detour.

I truly believe that an informed traveler is a better traveler. Unless you are on a completely escorted tour you will need to do plenty of homework and craft your own sightseeing plan and tour inclusions.

If this seems like a daunting and insurmountable task, then it is time to seek the help of a travel agent. But I also suggest that you locate an agent that is knowledgeable about your destination. Find a specialist not a generalist.

The answer to your second question is that I still travel with a printed travel guide. The biggest reason I’m not an electronic or tech guy.

Once on the road you have to access the on-line material and I don’t have a smart phone.

Plus the idea of lugging a lap top around and searching for hot spots when touring is just not practical.

Please keep those emails flowing to thetravelprofessor@gmail.com.