Tag Archives: paris

travel blog part one: where to begin? research and planning

11 Jan
For our trip, we went to Europe where we spent about 6 days in London, 6 days in the Cote d’azur, and 6 days in Paris.Why did we choose these places? Mostly for personal reasons as we both wanted to go to London and Paris because of its sights and because they’re one of the more popular European destinations. Since it was our first time in Europe, we also wanted to go somewhere…”tourist friendly” to help ease us into international travel.

We chose only 3 destinations because we wanted to spend quality time in each city. We didn’t want to feel rushed and feel like we missed out on sights. I’m really glad we didn’t rush everything and see 5 cities and only see a little of each.

To help with planning, I took out several books from the local library to provide general information about Europe and things to consider before going away. One book I found particularly useful was the Rough Guide First Time Europe. There was a lot of really useful information that I never would have thought of doing if I hadn’t read the book.

Ada bought a book by Lonely Planet on “Provence & the Cote d’azur”, with the hopes of finding places to visit while on the trip. However, it wasn’t as useful as we’d hoped because we stayed in the Cote d’azur for only 6 days and without a car. There’s so many free resources online and books at the library, that we feel that it’s not necessary to buy travel books.

Once we had decided on our destinations, I took out the most recent books I could find on each of the specific cities. We would read them in our spare time or on the bus. We bookmarked interesting sights and copied down some of the city itineraries in the books. There was one that offered a detailed itinerary and although it seemed manageable, in real life, we didn’t follow it as closely as we had imagined.

I actually didn’t do a lot of Internet research – mostly just travel books found at the library. I did, however, read some travel blogs to get an idea of what to pack and how to plan our trip. A number of online resources we found helpful in planning:

We also tried some unconventional research methods thanks to social media. I bet everyone has at last one friend on Facebook whose been to Europe and posted their pictures online. Creep them! Seriously! If you’re my Facebook friend….creep my pictures. It was useful to look at other people’s pictures and captions to gauge what they thought was interesting or some of the random things they found in their travels. We even stayed at the same hotel that two of my friends stayed at because the hotel looked nice in their pictures.Ask your friends for their tips. Everybody has advice for others after they’ve been to Europe. My friend told us about some hotels he stayed at and websites he used to book them. My co-worker told me about some of her fondest memories in Paris and how I could recreate them by sitting on the lawn by the Eiffel Tower and drinking wine. Most of the time, you will forget some of the things your friends suggest so write it down.

Also, another idea I thought of today because I was with a friend who is planning a trip to Asia, we picked up some travel brochures from Travel Cuts. It was good to flip through the pages to get an idea of what tour groups focus on and budgets if you want to plan the trip on your own (do it for less than the tour group)!In summary…

  • Take out library books, talk to your friends, creep Facebook photos and do some internet research to determine your destinations.
  • Think about how much time you have to spend and if you’d like to see a lot of places and see the key and most important sights or see fewer places to really see those places.
  • Even if you plan out every single day with itineraries like I did, you will probably abandon those plans halfway during the day. I definitely think having an idea of which sights you’d like to see is very beneficial but don’t spend too much time determining the exact sights you will see on a specific day.
  • Pick up free travel brochures to see what there is to see!

Coming up…booking flights! Also, check out the introduction to this series if you missed it.