I’m a prepper, not a doomsday prepper or a plotter (if I wrote fiction), but a trip prepper. I adore mulling over the details of a trip. I like the feeling of a brand new, shiny travel book complete with pictures and maps in my greedy little hands. Have I mentioned I’m a teacher? And teachers prep (well, plan). I’m particular about the travel books I invest my money and time into–oh–I’ll do my due diligence with regards to research on the internet–but I prefer my real, picture-laden, fact-filled heavy books.
I tend to favor DK Publishing’s line of Eyewitness travel books (http://www.dk.com/us/travel/). I should mention now that I will be giving shout outs to my fav travel guide publishers, but I’m endorsing these publishers from my personal experience and they were all purchased with my own hard-earned dollars. I like DK travel books because they are organized well. I like the timelines and the historical background. They don’t go too much into the history–just enough that anyone can feel appreciative of the destination. If I’m intrigued and usually I am, I will go online to find more in-depth information for whatever caught my interest. I buy books for places I aspire to visit and places that I frequently visit. Some of the books on the travel shelf seen below have not been used for an actual trip, but they are ready to go. I like to visit England frequently so I always have an updated Great Britain or London guide-book. And when the Europe edition is updated every few years–I buy it. I like going to a general trusted source first to help me choose a locale before zeroing in on a specific country, region, or city guide.
All of these trip prep customs are swirling around in my head as I’m in the midst of planning a trip. I will admit, I’ve taken a more laid back approach to this particular trip as I’m not going solo. I take more care with planning solo trips as I have to make sure I feel secure and safe with my itinerary. My sister J and I are going to the south of Spain in the future and it’s a first time for either of us to see Spain. We are focusing our stay in Granada and Seville with day trips to Cordoba and Ronda planned. My sister has taken the lead complete with her itinerary spreadsheet–and that’s what I love about her–I’m a control freak who likes to eek out every ounce of sightseeing and picture-taking I can on a trip, but I don’t do spreadsheets! God love her very organized, practical brain. I tend toward the visual so I’m a map person. I need to look at the map and study it for a while so when I’m walking around I feel some familiarity with my surroundings.
The DK Eyewitness travel books have good organization. Often times a city is sectioned off into the neighborhoods and the area with the most attractions or highlights are given the spotlight with an enlarged map and travel tips. The information is easy to read and understand. I use these guide books when I’m shopping for a travel deal. I like to stay in the city center and have transportation nearby. I want a convienent and safe place to lay my head every night. Some parts of town are best to just visit for a while not to stay and these guides help me figure out where to book a hotel and how close it is to the attractions I want to visit. My other consideration is the commute to and from the airport–being near a large train station can make coming and going painless. In London, I prefer the Park Plaza Victoria hotel due to its proximity to the Victoria Coach and Train station as well as Buckingham Palace–very easy starting point to sightseeing not only in London but farther afield in England. The DK travel guides include the maps of the major museums so you can see exactly the locations of special works of art. The back of the guide has detailed maps that can easily be kept in your hotel room for nightly consultation during a trip. My travel guides go into my carry-on on the way to my destination to help with planning and details for my journal entries every night and on the way home they go into my checked luggage. The last quarter section of the books offers good day trip suggestions and practical information including yearly weather patterns, annual events and festivals, currency, embassy location, personal safety tips, hotel and restaurant suggestions for all budgets, and the tips that can make traveling to a foreign destination less irksome. I adore the shopping section since it helps me pre-plan souvenir shopping including the stores I need to keep an eye out for. DK also publishes a line of Top Ten travel guides–I use them for cities that I will visit but I’m not staying there for any great length of time. They are also good to get a taste of what there is to see or experience if I’m not sure whether I’ll be traveling to that city yet.
The other travel guide line I like to use are the Knopf mapguides (http://knopfdoubleday.com/knopf-mapguides/). They are compact and chock full of information with fold out maps for each neighborhood. They are useful if I want the guide with me during the day because it’s not too big or heavy tucked away in my daybag. When it comes to getting around a city, my favorite pocket maps are Popout maps and they are produced for just about every major city in North America and Europe. They usually have public transportation maps as well as city center street maps with the attractions labeled.
When I was London a few years ago, I found a bookstore dedicated to travel–Stanfords (www.stanfords.co.uk/) in Covent Garden. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh, Nirvana (heaven not the band)! Two floors packed with travel guides, maps, blank journals waiting to be filled, and all kinds of travel gadgets. I walked around for at least 1-2 hours just browsing. Not only do they have every kind of map and travel guide (for walking, driving, cycling, and hiking) but they also have a coffee shop at the back of the store. They carry antique maps mostly for the London area if memory serves correctly. A great place to start for historical writing research. While there I restrained myself somewhat as I had to edit my basket several times as I was getting away from myself and my wallet. I did pick up a pocket map of London that I’ve never seen before and I love it, but I can’t find that the publishing company ever published maps for other cities that I can easily get in the US–the London Tube & Walk by Quickmap (http://www.mapsworldwide.com/quickmap_2864pub0.htm). It’s great resource as I like to get around London via the tube and walking. This map lays out routes with estimated travel times between tube stops and tourist attractions. It’s great as I get turned around coming up from the tube to street level–this map helped me orient myself pretty quickly.