Travel Writers' Secrets: Top Travel Planning Tips

by Dr. Jessie Voigts /
Dr. Jessie Voigts's picture
Jun 08, 2010 / 3 comments

I’ve got a GREAT list of travel tips for you! For our upcoming trip to Ireland and Scotland, I contacted several of my favorite travel writers and asked them for their top tips.  With their answers, we’ll share a series of ten articles on travel planning, airlines, traveling with kids, tips for Scotland and Ireland, and more. Here we go - Travel Writers’ Top Tips for Travel Planning

Travel Writers' Secrets: Top Travel Planning Tips

Do your research before you leave so you have an idea of what you'd like to do or see when you reach your destination, but don't be afraid to throw all those plans away if something else piques your interest more once you arrive.

JoAnna Haugen,


Research. Research. And again. Prepare well in advance and read about the places you want to visit and plan visits in advance. I am the only one in our family who does this and even though I end up as an unpaid tour guide our trips are always more interesting and enjoyable because of the sometimes fascinating tid-bits and extra information I end up being able to provide.

Trish Clark,


Don't be afraid to write in (and dog ear) your guidebooks.  Six months from now, when you want to tell your friend about that fantastic restaurant, that's the only way you'll remember its name.
Bring along an emergency contact list and photocopies of your credit cards (both sides) and identification.  If anything comes up, you'll be grateful that you have this information readily available.

Debbie Dubrow,


Consider working with a local travel agent -- they can often secure 
preferred rates on hotels, flights, etc, recommend good drivers and guides and best of all, you keep your tourist dollars in the local economy. It's a win-win situation for all parties. 

Jennifer & David Raezer,


Although I use a lot of fancy tools like Tripit and the various booking engines, there's no substitute for a yellow notepad.

Paul Bennett,


The shorter the time, the more you have to plan in detail

Remember to schedule time to relax and play, especially with children. Pacing and priorities is very important and this is a good example of how we did a lot one day in Paris with a 6 year old without over extending. If we do a lot one day, we usually take a whole rest day or more afterwards to prevent burn out. With children, it is important to schedule in pool time and such.

Prioritize your sightseeing and allow plenty of time for aimless wandering, café sitting, free attractions and pool time for kids or family games.

Jeanne at Soultravelers3


Start early - but don't go overboard.  Leave unplanned time so that you can be flexible.  Register with the State Department so they have a record of where you are traveling abroad - especially to more 'questionable' countries.

Sherry Ott, Ottsworld


*study maps before you set out: for me this frees me up to explore if I have the lay of the land (or city, or neighborhood) in my head. also, it frees me from having to take the map out and study it while going around. not always the best practice for many reasons

*look to see what local events might be going on as you travel, and try some of them out. you’ll most often be very welcome and you may enjoy yourself at a soccer match, a church bazaar, or town celebration.

Kerry Dexter,


I plan at least 6 months ahead so I can get the hotels and airline seats I want. Those hotels that are inexpensive gems fill up fast. 
If you want to use your frequent flyer awards, plan a year in advance.

Terri Fogarty,


Get a map you love. Because we intended to explore small places as we drove, we wanted a large scale map, and bought the Michelin Great Britain and Ireland Tourist and Motoring Atlas. It takes some getting used to because it is ring bound and you have to turn pages as you go, but it really helped with the more remote roads and pointing us to lesser-know spots.

Check out the web sites for each County. They have all the information you'll ever need.

Vera Marie Badertscher,


Consider the ‘what if’s’ ie what if I lose all my money/passport? what if the hotel is awful? What if the flight is delayed etc etc do what you can to minimise problems – then forget it and enjoy!

Zoe Dawes,


I also rely on several different types of sources of information, including several guide books (most notably Rough Guides, Lonely Planet, Time Out, Eyewitness Travel and Cadogan, but also, when applicable, the Wallpaper and Hedonist guides). I also visit different forums (such as TripAdvisor and Lonely Plantet's Thorn Tree), blogs (too many to name) and the website of the convention and visitors bureau (if in the U.S.) or the tourist board (for different countries). I compare the information among all these sources when I am preparing a trip to a particular locale to search for hidden treasures.

Jeanine Barone,


Pick a region and explore it thoroughly. You will have a much more interesting trip if you reduce the amount of miles you put on each day.

Corey Taratuta,


I recommend booking a professional tour guide for at least one day, especially if the trip is your first to that particular destination and if your time is limited. You'll actually save time, because you don't have to plan everything yourself and you'll learn more than you would exploring on your own, in most cases. I started doing this in the past few years, and I feel the guide enriches my experience exponentially. One other benefit: a professional guide can often skip the line and may have access to areas you would not if you were on your own.

Penny Sadler, Adventures of a Carryon


Do you have a great tip you'd like to share? Let us know!



Top Airline Tips

Saving Money for Travel or While Traveling 

Top Activities for Kids in Ireland and Scotland

Top Travel Planning Tips

Favorite Places in Ireland





Note: This article was originally published in 2010 and updated in 2020


Comments (3)

  • pen4hire

    14 years 1 month ago


    Debbie Dubrow is SO right about guidebooks. I would add--tear out the pages you are NOT going to need before you go home. (I try to do it neatly so I can reassemble them when I get back--just in case I decide to visit the area again).

    And I'm so glad to hear Jeanine's tips--always wondered how she finds those out of the way places. She's mentioned a couple of guidebooks I never heard of before. THANKS!


    Vera Marie Badertscher

  • Kerry Dexter

    14 years 1 month ago


    I've enjoyed seeing all the different takes on travel planning. Thanks for including me in this, and I look forward to reading the next installment -- and others to come.

    Kerry Dexter

    Music Editor,

  • NancydBrown

    14 years 1 month ago

     Vera Marie,

    I have never lived it down with my husband that I tore out Austria from our guidebook because I didn't think we were going there during our two month back packing trip.

    He has never let me forget that I tore Austria out of the guidebook to save space. Bad idea.


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