Getting Around the Guidebook: Techniques for Researching your Trip Without Spending a Fortune
If you are planning a big trip with multiple countries on the itinerary, purchasing a guidebook for each one of them can get pricey. Not to mention the fact that you’ll be spending a lot of time reading and researching your destination next. If only you could find everything you specifically want to know in one or two places…wait a minute…you can!
It’s a beautiful thing. Tourism bureaus are entirely dedicated to showcasing a country or city to the public to increase and sustain the tourism industry. They exist to promote local businesses, and in my experience the staff are very friendly and accommodating.
If you don’t want to wait until you land to visit the bureau, they have more than enough information to get you started online. You will learn about culture, customs, visa requirements, places to stay, eat, and see. Many will also facilitate the booking process for you too.
Where to Find Tourism Boards Online
You can find the local tourism bureau a few different ways:
- Perform a google search by typing in the destination + tourism board (eg: Thailand + tourism board)
- Visit the Tourism Offices Worldwide Directory
Look for the “press” or “media” links on these websites. These sections are developed to assist visiting media in streamlining their trip and provide useful research information to fill out their articles or videos. It’s often a little tricky to find, but the search is well worth it.
It is here that you will often find consolidated fact sheets with a lot of the information you’ll want to make your trip all the more fulfilling. You’ll also find press releases, interesting news pieces, links, and “insider” information.
Convention & Visitors Bureaus
These organizations are loosely associated with the tourism offices, and are another great resource for unbiased information on your destination. They are often not-for-profit establishments, and can be connected to the business improvement associations in the community.
Again you will find lots of useful information and links plus some insiders tips. Their focus is a little more specialized as they concentrate on exhibitions and conventions. But all convention attendees from out of town need to know where to go on their free time, and these sites can provide some great tips.
How to Find Convention & Visitors Bureaus Online:
- Perform a google search for the destination + convention & visitors bureau (eg: Thailand + convention & visitors bureau)
- Visit the Directory of Worldwide Bureaus
International Destination Marketing
This is a resource associated with convention & visitors bureaus. It consolidates information about bureaus around the world, and also provides some handy resources on your destination of choice.
If you click on the Travelers section, you will find the Official Travel Guide, with lots of useful information for your trip, ideas, and even portals to booking elements of your trip.
I have recently discovered About.com as a research mechanism, and am consistently impressed with the depth of information provided. Their travel section is quite comprehensive, and allows you to find information according to location, but also according to your activities of choice or the type of travel you enjoy.
I am planning an upcoming trip through Southeast Asia, and through research on About.com, I have added a few new items to my itinerary, including a summit climb of Mt Kinabalu (SE Asia’s highest mountain)!
The above tools will provide a lot of what you would find in a guidebook, but without the author’s biases or inconsistencies. Feel free to plan an existing trip, pick your next destination, or just plain daydream. You can print off what you need for the road, including maps, fact sheets, and language primers. You can also book trips, get ideas, and step off that plane in the know and ready to conquer the world.