What’s your primary goal when traveling? Is it to explore off-the-beaten-path destinations (and not congested tourist traps)? Is it to learn something fascinating about your destination that will help you remember it forever?
Then it’s time to start enjoying your trip before you ever leave home! Learning about the culture, history and stories of a location will not only ensure you get more from every cruise port, but you’ll get the added benefit of the building excitement.
From YouTube videos to local works of fiction, a variety of sources of travel inspiration are available.
Outside of actually visiting, there’s no better way to get a feel for a particular region than reading books written by those who have traveled extensively in that area. As you search for travel guides, look past obvious overviews and aim to find something a bit more in-depth — and ideally, written by somebody who is intimately familiar with the area’s secrets.
In addition to non-fiction travel books, feel free to scope out works of fiction written by local authors or based in the region you plan to visit. You may need to conduct some research to determine whether the sites highlighted in your book actually exist, but if they do, you’ll have a blast checking out the locations that played an important role in your book of choice.
Prior to departing for your trip, check out videos detailing the region you hope to visit.
For European vacationers, there’s no better resource than Rick Steves, who is known for his engaging personality and his knowledge of hidden gems throughout Europe. Other excellent travel documentaries can be found on Netflix and YouTube. Often, low-budget YouTube films are the most accurate, as they go beyond the strictly picturesque and give you a better feel for the region’s unique culture.
If you neglect to purchase travel guides before leaving home, you’re not necessarily out of luck. Crystal Cruises boast well-stocked libraries chock full of books and magazines with information that is pertinent to your current adventure. Consider checking out one of these books and flipping through the pages whenever you have a bit of down time. While reading, you may pick up some ideas for little-known gems that you can visit when your cruise reaches its next port.
Additionally, Crystal Cruises offers onboard guest lectures and boutique excursions which allow you to explore a particular area of interest in depth with the help of a local expert.
If your cruise lacks a library, you may be able to find local reads at the small bookstores and gift shops you encounter while exploring various port towns and cities. Many of these stores have excellent travel books in English, as well as knowledgeable employees eager to steer you in the right direction.
Not only will you come away equipped with an excellent souvenir, your purchase will aid the local economy.
In an age of mobile connectivity, paperback travel guides are nowhere near as essential as they were ten years ago. Today, many vacationers prefer to download travel applications, which assist tourists with navigation, translation, and so much more. Top travel apps for generating ideas include Foursquare, TripAdvisor, TouristEye, and LocalScope.
The takeover of Google Maps and other navigation apps has been accompanied by a swift reduction in map reading. This is most unfortunate, because there’s no experience quite like poring over a map of an unfamiliar area and using it as a basic guide for a day of leisurely strolling. This approach forces you to remain alert. It also opens you and your fellow travelers up to a wide array of experiences you might have missed had you been beholden to Google Maps.
Whether you prefer to plan out every detail of your vacation or take advantage of opportunities as they arise, you can greatly enrich your trip by studying your intended destination. Through careful study, you will gain a greater appreciation of the regions you visit.