I absolutely love travel planning. With our family holidays in the past I have enjoyed doing research for each location and finding fun family activities to do, best family friendly places to stay that are good value for money and places to eat that cater for children.
The anticipation of the trip and the planning was so exciting. However with our upcoming year long trip, planning has been rather painful. It started out fun, finding new blogs to follow about other families that were travelling and dreaming of the possibilities. With time starting to fly by its becoming all too real as I realise how much research I haven’t done!
So how does one research travel destinations for a year long trip? Many family travel blogs that I have been following are doing research on the road before each location. Many have done away with the Lonely Planet Guides and rely on other online resources to do their planning. (Including following other family travel blogs and joining travel forums.)
I have also read of families that have planned out everything before the trip, however these families were only visiting one specific area of the world, or a couple of destinations.
With our plans to visit over 20 countries in our year long travels the latter seems a bit impractical for us. So how will we research on the road? The first thing we will need is a good internet connection preferable at our accommodation. In Asia this could be patchy so i figure if I can research Asia just incase we have no internet, everything else can be done the country before.
Some interesting sites that I have found for researching Asia are travelfish.org, Triposo.com and virtualtourist.com. These websites are great as they allow you to search for everything in a specific area. For example if you were going to Koh Samui in Thailand you can specifically look for accommodation in your price range, restaurants, activities and even travel options. There are also real reviews from users and include forums where you can interact and ask questions about a certain destination. Very handy for first time visitors.
Triposo is also excellent as it has an app that you can download onto your iPhone or similar. The cool thing about Triposo is that you can download destination guides to your phone and then access them whenever you need even without the internet!
Other things we will rely on are recommendations from locals and travellers we meet on the road. Locals always have the inside scoop on the best places to visit, best places to eat for less and the cheapest way to get from A to B. Guide Books in hard copy would be helpful if we were only going to a couple of destinations, but it is easier for us to stick to downloadable content, or free information from the web as we will be travelling as light as possible and visiting several destinations.
With just over 100 days till we leave its time to get my research on and get serious. I find that when I do my research properly for a destination everything just seems to flow. I know where to go in the airport, how to get from the airport to hotel, what I should be paying for the trip and more. I know I am going to get sick of the research but when I think about trips I have not planned so well in advance, (some not so awesome experiences) thorough research is definitely the way to go to get more out of your travel adventures.
Do you have any tips about researching destinations or insider information about a specific destination?