Step One: Travel Books
We are taking a family vacation to London this month, and so naturally, my planning/list making has kicked into turbo. I love serendipitously random discoveries too, but I have to do it from a base of knowing that, if it doesn’t happen, there will still be plenty to do. For a glimpse inside my brain, here is how I plan for a trip:
Step One: Travel Books Obvious, right? Well, here’s my twist: I try to select books that offer more of an insider’s/off-the-beaten-path approach, as I like to pretend I’m a local when I travel. My go-to choices for London are 1. London Design Guide 2. The London Coffee Guide 2011 3. eat.shop London and 4. City Secrets: London. The inaugural London Design Guide was my primary travel guide for our August 2010 trip. Chances were, if someone had suggested a location to visit, it was also listed in the London Design Guide, so I couldn’t wait to get the updated edition for the latest and greatest. The London Coffee Guide was a no-brainer addition: not only do I love coffee (and pastry) but independent coffee shops often place you in the most charming areas for shopping and dining. eat.shop’s guides (rebranded/relaunching this fall as rather guides) are a reliable source for local flavor, and when I came across the City Secrets Guide at a bookstore, I had to buy it: it’s providing details that will allow us to dig a bit deeper into London for our sophomore visit.
Step Two: Pinterest
3200+ pins later, I think it’s safe to say I am a huge fan of Pinterest. It’s especially brilliant when it comes to travel planning, as pinning is tailor made to marking and compiling sources gathered on the internet from blogs, emags, newsletters, and the like. I’ve set up a board for each of my favorite cities, and when I come across anything new that I want to save for later, I pin it. (It’s immensely satisfying.) I’ve been referring to my London board frequently to get a visual reminder of the people, places, and things I’m hoping to see.
Step Three: Accumulated Ephemera + Articles
Last August, I found myself accumulating business cards, menus, and other ephemera from our London stops. When I returned home, I stashed it in a polyurethane folder. (Like Pinterest, I keep folders for favorite cities.) I throw in tear sheets from magazines and newspapers throughout the year as well: it makes for a handy source of fodder for future visits and also serves as a de facto souvenir.
Step Four: Google Maps
A friend made me a Google Map for our 36 hours in Paris last year, and it was invaluable. Having never been to Paris and short on time, we walked, phone in hand for reference, following her expertly constructed walking tour. (In the rain, no less!) I thought I’d try to do the same, sans walking tour, for our London trip. I’ve set up a Google map pinned with my finds from steps 1-3, and added detailed notes to distinguish between shops + dining + attractions. I’ve forwarded the map’s link to the rest of our traveling party, but one question remains: as we will be relying on wifi for internet access, and using the map over a longer period, are there any suggestions for the best way to access this information offline? It isn’t readily apparent to me, but I’m sure/hopeful that something exists. Ideas welcome, and if you’d like to see the culmination of my efforts, click here to access my Google Maps guide to London.
As researching cities is a passion, I’m thinking of expanding this maps concept to Boston, Charleston, LA, Vancouver, etc. and would be interested in hearing your thoughts about such an endeavor.