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Researching your destination adds value to your vacation. Read our recommendations on the information you  need to know before you go.


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Travel Advice - Issues to research about potential destinations

For many travelers, discovering new places is what vacations are all about. In a sense, vacations are exploration at its best. Going to a new place, discovering what it’s about, and where its treasures lie, provides a great deal of fun. The experience of a sampling a place with a different culture, geography, and history expands one’s horizons and adds to the rewards of travel.

Many travelers pick places to visit based on their popularity but need details about their destinations in order to enjoy the visit.

  • The best sources for this type of information are guidebooks, travel magazines, Web sites, and the weekend travel section of major newspapers.
  • Use official tourism Web sites to sign-up for mailing lists of tourist information. Generally, the material available at these sites is not detailed but does serve to provide a good overview of what there is to see and do.
    • It has been our experience that countries interested in developing a tourism industry do the best job at providing promotional materials.
  •  The very best source of information on major locations is a quality guidebook (see our article on Buying the right guidebook for you.).

When reviewing materials on your chosen destination, look for information on the key issues discussed below.


First, find out the best time to visit the location.

From the perspective of traveling, there is a “seasonality” to all tourism destinations.

  • Find out the time of year that has the best climate (you know - not too hot, not too cold, just right).
  • Remember, the best climate period for tourism may not be summer (too hot, too rainy, etc.).

Next, determine the timing of the “tourist” season.

During the “peak” tourist season, you can expect higher prices, more crowds, and longer waits for attractions. Of course, it is precisely this “party” atmosphere than many people enjoy.

When we schedule or vacations, we prefer to travel during the “shoulder” or “collar” season (just before the season starts or shortly after it ends).

  • During this season, crowds are minimal, prices reasonable, accommodations available and lines are short.
  • The weather, at times, may not be accommodating but this is the price that you pay for being a little early or a little late.

Another seasonality issue that needs to be considered when visiting a destination is “when and where do the locals vacation?”

  • Europeans, for instance, take vacation at the end of July through most of August.
    • In our experience, this is a difficult time to travel in major European vacation destinations.
    • In many areas, facilities are either closed or low on staff. Premier vacation destinations are crowded.
    • Shops (e.g. groceries) in small country towns may be vacant and services in short supply.
    • In Europe, vacationing in August is a continent wide sport.

If your schedule limits your travel to the “high season” for tourism, so be it: however, you can make plans to limit the frustration.

  • Be sure to add extra time to your schedule when visiting for major attractions and avoid having meals at major attractions.
    • Instead, search for a restaurant on a quite side street that will provide a more pleasant experience with the added benefit that it should provide better food, at lower cost, without the wait.
    • In other words, accommodate the crowds and enjoy yourself.

Find out the top attractions (the best of the best).

Examine your guidebook for the destinations/ attractions that are considered “must see”.

  • Create a “soft” schedule that lets you tour two of these superlatives a day.
  • Leave lots of time for talking, walking, eating shopping, and those accidental finds, that make travel especially rewarding.

Examine what is unique about each destination.

Collect information about the uniqueness of your destination and find activities that will allow you to sample this uniqueness as part of your travel experience. Standout categories are culture, history, architecture, food, and scenery. Find them and exploit them on your visit. Do not assume that these categories will be the same everywhere or even in different places in the same country. Do the research before you go and it will reward you well.

Be prepared.

Be sure to check out our web site for travel advisories. Read ThereArePlaces Information Guide on Touring Strategies.

  • Study your guidebook to determine do’s and don’ts in the locations that you will visit.
    • Don’t leave this task until you are on the plane. Your vacation time is precious and you are the only one who can ensure that your preparations will allow you to make the most of your vacation.

Asking and answering the questions posed above will likely lead to new discoveries. Doing the research will help to create an enjoyable travel experience.

If you need to find information about Destinations or other Things Travelers Need To Know, try Googling ThereArePlaces.
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