Posted by: AmbleAlong | August 19, 2011

Employ what you learned in the Girl Scouts

Like many girls, I fondly remember going through the ranks as first a Brownie and then a Girl Scout.  Scouting taught me many things – chief among them, the Girl Scout Motto of “Be Prepared”.

Our troop always anxiously awaited word on what new patches we were aiming for in the next year.  Not only was always it great to try new things (candlemaking, archery, AND learning to start a fire – it’s gonna be a good year),  but you had the Camp-Out events where you could learn to pitch a tent and sing silly songs around a campfire.  At the Jamboree to wrap up each year, you could even gauge how well you and your fellow troopers’ experiences matched up to other troops by a comparison of badges completed.

Though travel does not have a similar method of easy comparison (unless you count a passport), the beautiful thing is the only person who has to enjoy the trip is you.  There is no “one size fits all” trip that would work for everyone, and that is a good thing!

Whenever I start thinking about the next trip, it all starts with some research.  (Since I like to travel this is a labor of love, but there are plenty of travel agencies and organized vacation groups that are happy to take your money and do the research for you.)  Your local library probably has a travel section in their Reference or Resource Room.  I would encourage you to take down from the stacks anything on the cities or countries that interest you.  A travel guide series – like those by Rick Steves focused on Europe – can be a really great resource.  His books and DVDs are likely to be found in the same part of your library.

Deciding what you want to do on your trip will be key to the type of vacation you plan.  Are you going to see relatives or friends?  Do you like history and architecture, or would you rather hear the waves crashing while you read a good book?  Much like reading War and Peace at the Roman Colisseum in complete quiet is sure to be a bad fit, so too is planning to take in 15 museums AND visit Aunt Jane on a 4-day trip to London.  After you determine what you would like to do on vacation, you can then focus in on where to travel and select a few “must see” points of interest for the trip.

You will never be sorry that you spent the time in advance to delve into the weather, language, currency, points of interest, and transportation system for a vacation.  The more you know about your destination, the better you can narrow down what you need to take.  Also efficient and light packing means less weight in your packed bags, which translates to more room to bring home mementos and treasures from the experience!

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