Like most, your travels are probably limited by time and budget. Travel books can help you get the best value out of both.
Books cost too much? Add up the costs of travel: transportation to and from, insurance, accommodations, transportation during your trip, sightseeing, guides and meals; they all add up to thousands of dollars.
‘Winging it’ might seem like a relaxed way to go; perhaps it would be if you had unlimited time and a bottomless bank account. For us ‘regular folk’ spending money on a few books is a tiny investment in helping to make the most of vacation time and money, a little insurance for returning home with great memories instead of ‘wish-we-had-of’ regrets.
1. Read Your Travel Book and Plan Before You Go
The best time to invest in a travel book is BEFORE you go … as soon as you know you are going (even before). Why spend valuable vacation time reading about what you should be doing when you could be doing it.
There is a wealth of information between those paperback covers; knowledge which could greatly enhance your trip. General information such the best times to go will assure you don’t find yourself the only tourist in town because it has closed down for the ‘off’ season. Hints on how you can make the best use of your time and save money beats waiting in long irritating lineups which eat up hours of vacation time. To help make the best use of time, many guidebooks include suggested itineraries, “If you only have 1 day (2 days, 3 days) these are the sights to see.”
2. Play With Maps
Maps of countries, cities and towns, even micro maps of tourist sites can save time, money, frustration and sore feet. Use maps to create a plan … perhaps a circle tour of your own design. Highlight places and sights you want to see then connect the dots. When you are done, it should look less like a spider’s web and more like a wiggly-circle. Once you’ve marked your route, take a second look and indicate those places which are ‘must-see’s and ones which can be passed over should you start running out of time. Just about now your pre-trip excitement will start building at a rapid rate.
3. Use Contact Information
Use contact information to search online for transportation schedules (rail, sailing, buses). If you travel in the shoulder-seasons, or off-season, when many transportation modes cut their schedules drastically or completely, it’s important to confirm transport availability so you are not left standing at the dock with no boat in sight.
Use contact information to peruse details and reviews on accommodations, restaurants, attractions and activities. If you are traveling from place to place during your vacation, it’s real handy to have preselected two or three preferred accommodations in each city.
4. Local Customs Dos and Don’ts are listed in most Travel Guides
Many guidebooks provide information on local customs. Some may seem odd to you but isn’t experiencing what is different one of the reasons you’re travelling? If you want ‘same’, save your money and stay home. Being polite, and feeling comfortable in doing so, will make you a better travel ambassador and, in turn, locals will be more willing to help enhance your stay in their country.
5. Speak Up
Most guidebooks will have a small section on language. If you speak English, the world is a great place in which to travel. Pretty well everywhere you go, someone under the age of twenty will speak some English (much more than you probably know in their language). Remind yourself it is you who is the foreigner visiting their country and use a few words of their language to show them you are trying; relationships with locals will be much more rewarding. Minimum words you should know in their language are the equivalent of ‘hello’, ‘please’, ‘thank you’ and ‘excuse me’ (as in trying to pass). If you need to communicate about allergies or health concerns, write them down on a card (translation services free online) and carry with you to show, so there is no misunderstanding.
6. Travel Books often display Inspiring Pictures
Within travel books you may find a few of those ‘wish-I-could-take-that’ photos. These may hold valuable information. Use them as a directive of where to stand so you may capture your own shot.
Look closer to what people are doing and wearing; they might just answer some questions you’ve been wondering about.
7. Rip-up your Travel Book before you Travel with Them
Don’t lug unnecessary weight and use up valuable space in your suitcase or backpack. If you don’t need all the information within a book, rip out the sections you won’t use while travelling and only take those pages you will, or may, need.
8. Leave What You Don’t Need from Your Travel Book
Once you are finished with the book or an individual torn-out section, leave it behind on an exchange bookshelf, or in a hotel’s desk drawer to be used by another traveler.
9. Write About Your Travels in Your Own Book
Travel with an empty journal and fill it with where you went, what you saw and what you thought about it. Write stories of your experiences and what you have learned about the places and people you’ve met.
10. Make Your Own Travel Guide
What better way to save your travel memories than with today’s self-publishing opportunities over the internet? Turn your photos and travel journal entries into an attractive coffee table book for you and your travelling companions … it may turn out so well you’ll consider offering it for sale to those who want to purchase a book on their favorite travel destination.
It all adds up
Those travelers who buy travel books early in the planning process, read and use the information and maps, learn customs and a few local words and make plans in advance of actual travel dates will find it stretches their ‘vacation time’ from a few weeks to months. As planning begins, your travels becomes reality and excitement builds.