So, you've got your two weeks booked and have negotiated the perfect destination with your family.
Whether you're headed to the beach to relax, to the city to enjoy some urban life, or to some exotic locale, there is one thing you can do to get the most out of your vacation.
Yes, you could reach for a guidebook. Lonely Planet, Frommers, Rough Guides, Rick Steves...they all have their merits but you're learning about all the same sites that everyone else is learning about. There is nothing wrong with that. In fact, it's a great place to start, but you can go further – go beyond the guidebook!
Read Novels To Connect To The Culture
Novels are a great, and entertaining, way to dig into the culture of a place. Look for stories set in cities, towns, and neighbourhoods; they will show how characters live, and interact, with each other.
They are often tales of regular people and you can learn how the culture works through the stories of their lives.
Find the popular authors of the region – if the locals like the writing that must mean something! Romances, mysteries, contemporary fiction, or comedy; they all offer a glimpse into the every day.
Your vacation will be much more meaningful if you can understand some of the regular life of those around you.
Read Cookbooks To Get A Taste Of What's To Come
The best way to connect to your destination is through the food!! The food of a region tells the story of its history, its ethnic makeup, its economy, and its geography.
Cookbooks these days offer so much more than simple ingredient lists and recipes. They are often filled with information about the cuisine, the culture it comes from, and the stories of how the recipes came to be entrenched in the region.
Learn not only what people are eating but why it is so important to them and how it has changed over time.
Find a recipe for the iconic dish of the area, visit local ethnic markets to try and find the ingredients, and try to make it yourself at home. Whether it's a success or a failure, you will have learned more about the place you plan to visit.
By visiting local restaurants that specialize in the area you'll be visiting, and trying out recipes at home, you can enjoy the tastes of your vacation well before you set foot out the door!
Read Travelogues To Find Out How Others Have Seen It
Travelogues are a great way to connect to 'on the ground' travel. They are usually written by intrepid travellers who recently visited a region and give a peek into what travel in the area is really like.
Find stories written by travellers just like you. If you're a twenty something male backpacker, then look for books written by a twenty something male backpacker. If you're travelling as a couple then find one written by a couple who travels in the same style and budget level as yourself.
The idea is to see your travels through the eyes of someone else; to connect to the destination, and the author, by reading true, and recent, accounts of their travels.
These people usually have gone beyond the guidebook themselves and can offer not only practical tips to getting off the beaten track but also a differing point of view than the traditional guidebook.
It is through reading travelogues that you can get a real sense of what your vacation might be like and find some truly unique experiences that might set it apart from the rest.
Whether you're looking forward to simply vegging on the beach for two weeks or anticipating day upon day of jungle trekking, going beyond the guidebook and reading into your destination can make the difference and help you get the most out of your next vacation.
If you are taking your next trip with the kids be sure you know how to Survive A Road Trip With Small Children.
|Written on 9/22/2013 by Gillian. Gillian is a traveler, and serial expat, currently based in Canada but with Mexico on the horizon. You can find more of the best travel books to make your next vacation the best one ever at TheGlobalBookshelf.com|
Photo Credit: Steve Harwood