Is Research before you Travel important?

Good Evening,

This blog post is something I am really intrigued by and I really would like to start proper discussions on my page. I would love for you lovely people to get involved in some of my posts and we can throw some new blog post ideas around and even share our opinions together.

The topic that I would love to hear your opinions about is ‘Do you believe researching before you travel is important?’. 

The reason I ask this is that the increase of travellers are becoming more ‘experimental’ and travelling further long-haul. It is stated that tourists are now looking at travelling to more lesser-known destinations (Virtuoso, 2016). What does this mean for travel? Well if we are all looking at travelling to places that we know less about, do we know what to expect when we get to these places…probably not.

Now obviously this does not count for some people as I know quite a lot will do thorough research into the destinations details. I thought I would list some of the most important bits of information that we as travellers should definitely research before we travel so we get the most out of our experiences whilst not impacting on the local culture.

1. Understanding other cultures.

This for me is by far one of the most important aspects to research especially when you are travelling to somewhere unfamiliar and that is so different from what you are used to back home. The most popular backpacking area is South-East Asia including Thailand which gets around 19 million tourists every year. Statistics by Rough Guide (2016) mention several of the world’s best backpacking destinations to include Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, India & Peru.

It is a lot to say that we have been to places like Peru and Cambodia but do we actually get to know the local food, how to dress and even just understanding the locals way of everyday life. I know we all go away to relax and escape our stressful working life but are we comfortable integrating ourselves into other communities?  I think it is vital otherwise you may end up getting on the wrong foot on the first day of your travels making life just that little bit harder for yourself. It can even help you to make some life-long friends by showing your respect and understanding of the locals. You can feel more immersed and make memories you will never forget!

2. Discovering hidden gems within the destination

I know we all can be control freaks now and then especially when planning trips away. It doesn’t hurt now and then to do a little bit of research of the local areas and the hotspots. Sometimes it can be fun to just go for a wander, hire a bike and just go for a ride as long as you have researched the areas that are unsafe you can come across places you never thought you would.

Me and my boyfriend on our recent trip to Berlin took a walk down a random street; we had no idea where we were going and came across some incredible buildings covered in artwork (some people would call it graffiti, but just look at the photos it is definitely artwork).

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Unexpected artwork (by PRBarkerPhotography)

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My favourite Elephant artwork (by PRBarkerPhotography)

On our final night we even came across a small restaurant with locals sat inside and it was one of the most welcoming lovely restaurant I have ever been in. So go on don’t worry about wandering from you itinerary you may just discover something you will treasure.

3. Knowing the local lingo.

I am a lover of languages and one of my lifetime goals is to become fluent in Spanish. Just by working in the travel industry I can see what a difference knowing a language can make your life and work so much easier!

It is easy to just ‘get by’ when travelling by expecting other people to know English but if you really want to immerse yourself and get into the ‘nitty gritty’ of a destination do not expect the locals to know any bit of English. It will make the locals more comfortable with you and can make your life so much easier when travelling around as you can read signs, ask for directions and even just ask for advice on where to go.

If you have been debating on learning a language then do it I think it is so important and it is pretty impressive to say you are fluent in another language except your own. It will help you in your career and you make you stand out from the rest of the other applicants when applying for jobs.

4. Do your paperwork!

We always hear about people getting stranded or not being allowed in a country because we have not completed the relevant documentation. Now it is pretty easy to get around this just do the research I know it is hard when you want to do a  last minute trip but security is everywhere nowadays and rightly so. It is not exactly something we want to think of when planning our relaxing holiday away but it is something we need to research or you may not get on your holiday in the first place.

Not all visas are the same so do your research some countries have different visas for different tourists (Business, Student & Leisure). For us British folk have a browse on the UK & Foreign Commonwealth Office website. You can also go direct to the countries embassy website as just by googling you may come across outdated information.

Make sure you research way in advance of your travels as you don’t want to be stuck as some visas can be a longer process for example if you are looking at travelling to Russia you will need to travel to either Manchester, London or Edinburgh to get your biometric date checked (fingerprints).  The Lonely Planet website is also great when checking at the planning stage of your trips for your ‘Survival Information’ with passports and visa requirements.

5. Familiarise yourself with what to expect.

I think when you travel to brand new places especially when they are so different from our home we can be slightly overwhelmed this can cause us to stick to places that we find familiar such as British Pubs or large chain restaurant instead of exploring out of our ‘norm’.

Always expect the unexpected whether this be good or bad. Remember this is your holiday and if something unexpected happens such as something being more expensive than you thought or getting slightly lost. Remain calm and take it in your stride and expect that sometimes there may be some miscommunication.That is where Number 4 is handy when you know at least some of the language this can help you out of sticky situations.

We can all have these dreamy ideas of the idyllic far of destinations but sometimes we are shocked by the high standards we set. This is also known as the Paris Syndrome this is commonly known for Japanese tourists as they find themselves to have severe language barriers, exhaustion from jet lag and a serious culture difference when visiting Paris. Paris Syndrome is a more severe case of ‘Culture Shock’ this is why it is so important to research before you travel as being hit with culture shock can ruin your holiday plans and make you stressed about an experience which should be the very opposite!

6. Do you need any vaccines?

Always check with your GP on any vaccines you may need when travelling to new destinations. I know sometimes we will ask our travel agents but it is always recommended for you to ask your GP and do this in advance because we all know our doctors can be extremely busy! You can even ask your friends or family who have travelled to these places as they may know what you would need.

I would love to find out your opinions on doing research as I think it is really important and it would be great to hear how many of you actually do this research before you go?

The next discussion that I will be looking at is ‘What is your opinion on Voluntourism (doing volunteering projects abroad)?’.

Leave a comment down below on your opinions and if you like this sort of post.

You can follow me on Twitter @BookitBlogger and on Instagram @rhimaec and follow this blog to be notified when I do a new post!

Thanks for reading,

Rhianna

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I study Tourism Management at Sheffield Hallam University and have a passion for travel writing and research.

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