5 days til departure! We planned our trip to India over many months, but the actual tasks involved were simple, echoing the thoughtful research we did during many years of living overseas, transferring between countries, some more familiar than others. In the early years, we didn’t have the benefit of the internet or search engines – the clatter of the fax machine or the sound of a heavy envelope dropping into the mailbox would signal the arrival of eagerly awaited information – to be added to that gathered from conversations with friends of friends who had been where we were going.
This is how it always begins for us:
Consult the world atlas! Yep, even in this GPS and Google Maps world, we haul out the massive Times Atlas of the World (one of the best wedding presents ever), plop it on the table and start dreaming…
Talk with friends, family, and colleagues if they’ve been where you want to go; take notes, especially about what they liked best, worst & what they’d do differently.
Browse the guidebooks in the library to understand not only the possible highlights of the trip, but with an eye on which book (if any) you might purchase to take apart and take with you. Plenty of websites give advice about specific guide books, but looking at them yourself is best of all.
Poke about the web and let serendipity guide your explorations of where other travelers have gone and what they learned – there are blogs aplenty. Copy and paste any ideas that appeal into a word document that can become the basis for your personal guidebook and if there’s even a chance you might reuse any of that info, be sure to note where it came from.
Take a few minutes (or more!) to reflect on why you’re taking this particular trip and let that guide your plans. For example, our India trip takes us to a country neither of us knows well; is quite far away from our east coast USA home; and to which we may not return. So, we’re going for a longer time (4 weeks) and after putting a rough itinerary together ourselves, reached out to a recommended travel service in India to help with reservations and travel logistics – even though that goes against our massive DIY ethic. For India, we were willing to turn some of that responsibility over to someone right there, and treat ourselves to a little less worry.
Read Read Read. The subtitle of the JourneyWise blog is “Read. Travel. Learn it all, over again.” Before a trip, I’ll look for fiction set in the country to which we’re travelling or by native authors. I’ll read essays and other non-fiction, including history, as well as news articles that relate to where we are headed. I’m a reader with deep curiosity, and I love a bookstore – searching them out wherever I go. For India, here’s what I’ve read recently (not including many others read through the years):
The Siege of Krishnapur by J.G. Farrell
The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
Karma Gone Bad by Jenny Feldon
Holy Cow by Sarah Macdonald
India in Mind edited by Pakaj Mishra
Read. Travel! Enjoy…