Traveling with a guide...book
Setting out to see the sights, no matter where you visit, comes with loads of historical background, trivia, shopping, and places to eat. If your family is anything like mine, without a plan we end up wandering for well over an hour arguing over which attraction to see or at which restaurant to eat. Since we’re on vacation, our time has to be perfect and memorable! As we’ve traveled more, I’ve wizened up and learned to get the most out of my trip.
Do your travel research
This may seem like “Travel 101” but I find knowing ahead of time things such as the layout of a museum, the hot shopping area, hours of an attraction, or which district to eat, saves time and allows you to see the attractions that most interest you and your family while avoiding endless wandering. While tour guides are a viable option, they might not be best for younger kids or impatient know-it-alls like me.
I’ve learned to have a few options on hand so that we can still feel spontaneous but know what we’re getting ourselves into. Also, look up particular customs, local holidays, basic language phrases, and public transportation routes to get the most out of your experience. You might be pleasantly surprised to know that you’ve planned your trip during an amazing street fair or that you’ll be more well-received with a few customary greetings on the tip of your tongue.
Best travel guide books
Travel research doesn’t have to be overwhelming and in fact, is something I find fun. Helpful guidebooks such as Frommer’s or Fodor’s, provide an at-a-glance look at your destination while filling in with personal details and fun facts.
My personal favorite is Lonely Planet guides. They come in small sizes and make for easy stuffing into pocketbooks, jacket pockets, and the back pocket of your boyfriend or husbands pants. With easy-to-read maps, it’s always easy to orient yourself in relation to the features highlighted on the pages. (So easy that I once gave myself a tour of part of Paris using a Lonely Planet book and window of a public bus!) The recommendations aren’t overwhelming and highlight a variety of options for budget.
Especially when traveling as a family, having an activity picked out for each member of the family lets you all look forward to the trip and share your interests. Knowing your surroundings not only sets you up for a safe way to travel, but also instills a sense of being a local and getting a “true experience.”
Allison Parker is an Account Manager at Mom Central’s New York office.