Research plays a pivotal role in a well-planned trip. If you have researched deeply before taking a trip, a great holiday is assured. But the question is how much should you research? If you research a lot, it may take away the surprise and adventure element. On the contrary, if you research just on the surface, you may feel lost during a trip and waste your time and money eventually. So the wise thing to do would be to settle for the middle ground – research, but leave some room for surprise and adventure.
Here’s what you can do to make the most of the resources available – internet, travel operators, magazines and friends.
Read about the destination
Let me give you an example – I wanted to visit Jodhpur. I read about it on Wikipedia and other websites. That was my conscious learning about the city. I must have read about it in the past as well, but that was not conscious. It is important that you begin preparing for your trip by reading about it. Trust me, reading and learning about a destination before going there would not spoil the fun or surprise. It would rather build the excitement.
Reading helps because it will set a basic idea about the kind of place it would be – the highlights in terms of tourist hot-spots, food, culture and people. Once you have read about the place, you know what you are getting into and you can set your mind accordingly.
Keep looking for deals/packages
Never ever look for deals and packages when you are about to plan a holiday. Look for them in advance. Yes, it’s always a better idea to scout for good deals just like that even when you are not actually planning a trip. I was contemplating to visit Bhutan, Kashmir or Ladakh a couple of months ago, while I wasn’t sure about the exact time I would take those trips. But I still have the required information with me – accommodation, transport and best time to visit. Now I can use the noted information later when I actually plan a trip to any of these destinations.
Talk to various hotel managers, tour operators/agents
Tourism is a competitive business. All the hotels and tour operators want to trap the next available tourist, which is okay from their point of view. However, as a tourist, you have to make sure that you get the best deal! Never ever be fooled by a travel agent! Talk to at least four to five tour operators, compare, weigh the pros and cons and then decide what works for you.
A package could be for a short excursion to a desert or a village. Make sure what you are paying is what you should be charged!
Talk to your fellow travellers
Be a part of travel communities. Connect with like-minded people online and exchange helpful travel information. Lonely Planet, TravellersPoint and Afar are some of the good options. When you connect with a fellow traveller, you get real insights and not the typical sugar-coated stuff. A fellow traveller may save you from an overrated monument and give you valuable information about a good trek.
Find out about the local mode of transport
Trust me, this is important! If you know how to commute in a city, there is nothing like it. Wherever you plan to go, check out the options for local conveyance. If you have found the most suitable and cheapest mode of transport, you have kind of hit the jackpot. Either read about it online or ask a friend who lives in the city you are planning to visit.
I have spent oodles of money on commuting locally on my trips. Now I am conscious about the fact that I could use that money somewhere else instead of blowing it up so easily. It’s pretty easy to find better ways to commute in cities like Delhi and Mumbai. But cities in Rajasthan thrive on tourism. So, beware! I was in Jodhpur a few months ago, where I commuted by autos and tuktuks that charged big for short distances. In order to avoid that, one can interact with the locals and inquire about cheaper commuting options.
A good research helps you customize your trip according to your taste and temperament. Everybody wants to make the most of a holiday - learning about the destination helps you achieve that.