How do you research your travel destination? You know where you want to go, now how to get there, what to see, and where to stay? How do you find all those cool attractions everyone is talking about and a few that are not so well known?
Come along as I share some of the apps and websites I use to ensure I have the best travel experience possible.
How Do You Like to Travel?
Traveling is a very personal experience. Some like to get to their destination as quickly as they can. Some travelers like to dipsey doodle their way there and see what is along the way.
Some people prefer an itinerary to follow as they travel. A list of stops and sights that are laid out in a timely fashion. Some travelers will make it up as they go along. Getting a map of the sights and going day by day.
No matter which way you like to travel, getting to know the area you are traveling to makes the trip that much more enjoyable. Knowing your must-see sights that you absolutely do not want to miss. Knowing the best times to go visit or if guided tours are available. Researching your destination takes a little time, but it is a fun way to prepare for an excellent adventure.
How To Get There
Your way of traveling and time restraits, if any, have a fundamental impact on the rest of your travel research. How you are going to get there requires different research for each transportation mode.
By Plane, Train or Bus
When traveling with these modes of transportation, it is all about schedules. Make sure that if you have to catch a connecting plane, train, or bus, there is not a significant wait anywhere in the schedule.
There are many booking sites that can package travel requirements together. Get your airfare, hotel, and car rental in one shot with Elandfly.com or Booking.com, for example. There are also discount sites such as Expedia.com and Kayak.com that can give you great deals on vacations as well. Booking with a travel agent is also a great resource for your travel requirements.
You can also book your own transportation through the carrier and find your own accommodations. Airlines, passenger trains, and bus lines all have user-friendly websites that can give you the time and schedule you are looking for. Make sure to find the rules of these passenger carriers and know what you need to do to have a seemless trip. Having an overweight bag at the airport is time-consuming and could be costly. When traveling by train, small bedrooms are available for longer trips. Doing some research on different transportation methods will give you all the information you need and sometimes will reveal something you would like to try.
Traveling by RV, Campervan, or Automobiles
Mapping your way to your destination is a little more difficult in the way of time management. You do not know if you will run into a slow-down on the roads, and the weather now becomes more of a factor. Looking at the map, are there things you would like to see along the way? Busy cities you would like to avoid going through? Do you want to take the highway all the way or branch off to the backroads? These are all things to consider while mapping your route.
I find Google Maps to be the most reliable source for up to date mapping of roads and congestion. Input your idea of where your first stop will be. Google will give you time and traffic flow. Tap on the three dots of your search and find the option of setting the date and time of departure. This will give you a more accurate reading of your timeline for traveling. There are also route planning apps such as Roadtripper that can help you plan the perfect route to your destination.
I can not stress enough when following any kind of mapping program, whether it is a GPS, Google maps, or paper maps. Make sure the road you are traveling on is safe to do so. All of us who travel the roadways and byways have heard horror stories of people who got in and could not get out. I have come close to this happening myself. With no cell service, it is a particularly scary situation. Always make sure you can turn around or back out. Getting to your destination is always the result we want no matter which road we take to get there.
Where To Stay
Hotels and Motels
How do you find the best accommodations for your travel? Deciding what kind of accommodation you are looking for is the first step. Are you looking for points hotels like the Marriot or Hilton? B&B’s and AirB&B’s are also wonderful ways to travel. Motels, lodges, and resorts can also make a wonderful stay.
There is a plethora of ways you can stay at your travel destination. From Hostels to five-star resorts and everything in between. You can find many accommodations on most cities’ tourism websites. Most hotel brands have very good websites to reserve your stay. Some accommodations have their own search sites such AirB&B’s that you can search cities to find top rated accommodations. Be sure to check Google reviews when choosing your accommodations. I find it the best way to get a true sense of the place where you will be laying your head at night.
Camping and Boondocking
When traveling by road with your RV, Campervan, or camping equipment, there are various ways to find your perfect campsite. Provincial and State Parks are an excellent way to spend your nights on the road and when you reach your destination. Both have excellent reservation websites and great amenities. Peruse their individual websites to get an insight on what is available at the different parks. RV Parks and private campgrounds can be found on websites like The Dyrt and apps like Google Play’s RV Parks and Campgrounds. Using Google maps to search the area you are in can also give you some great finds. There are also membership websites like Harvest Hosts that offer places like wineries and golf courses to stay at.
Boondocking and free overnight parking sites can be a great way to stop and go and save you a little money. Parking for the night at Walmarts, Cracker Barrel, or some interstate and provincial rest areas can be a quick and easy stop over for the night. Dispersed camping on public land is also a wonderful way to get back to nature. Check for time limitations on stays and make sure you are not on private property. Most provinces and states have public land maps that can be accessed through their websites. Phone apps such as Ioverlander and freecampsites.net are also great resources for finding some free overnight parking spots. Travel Apps are an excellent resource for your road trip. Find all my favorite travel Apps here.
What To See and Do
Finding attractions and points of interest can be a daunting task. If you are like me and want to see it all, some research will be required. Travel guides by travel blogs like Travelling King are a wonderful way to find exciting attractions to visit as well as accommodation options. Google Maps is also a great resource. Choose your area and Google attractions. Works great for restaurants and other interests as well. Googling odd and interesting places help me find my favorite campsite. Jackson Lake Island, with its cute little goats, abondonded movie set, and beautiful river views, was a gem of a find.
Depending on what kind of tourist attractions you want to do, there are different websites that can help you find the most popular and the most obscure. Your travel destination city’s tourism website will usually have things to do or see as well as websites like Atlas Obscura to find those attractions that are a little more, well obscure.
Another great way to find attractions and places of interest is to follow the signs. On the highways and byways, small signs of places of interest are placed for you to find the hidden treasures in the communities. Sign following can be a fun adventure to discover places that you never knew existed. Sometimes, it will even lead you to a laugh or two.
Travelling can be an exciting and memorable experience. Doing some research on your travel and your travel destinations can make your vacation a memory that will last a lifetime.
What are your favorite travel research methods and resources? Let me know in the comments.
See you next time.