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Where are we headed next…?

mystery map2

Does it look familiar?

mystery page

Any clues?

mystery map

Any guesses…?!?!

travel book

We are thinking about jetting off to Québec City in August!!

I haven’t been to Canada since I was a young lass, and Tristan has never been. We have made a little agreement with ourselves to travel internationally once a calendar year. In 2009 we went on am amazing trip all around Ireland. In 2010 we took a blissful, relaxing trip to Jamaica… so now it’s time for a “city trip” with European flair for 2011… enter, Québec City!

I had been thinking about Canada as a possible destination for this year, and Québec City was recommended to me by my friend, Ursula. She is a German, who lived for many years in Canada, and now lives in the States. She will soon be moving back to Canada (near Toronto) and hey – I’ll just now have another reason to take another trip! 🙂

Out of all of my interests and passions, travel takes the cake. I can spend eons dreaming up itineraries for my travels, and mapping my course all over the world. Seeing the world is an amazing opportunity – and frankly, planning the trip excites me a great deal, too. I just plain LOVE IT. I live for the research and planning phase. I find it fun and thrilling. But, I’m kind of a dork. 🙂

I find trip planning a mostly therapeutic process (certainly not without its stresses here and there, no doubt). I adore learning about a new destination… even if I don’t end up going there.

Picking a destination can seem like the hardest task in the world. My list is 100 countries long! (Though really, you’d be hard pressed to offer up a destination to me, and have me turn it down. So make that 200 countries long!). I want to see EVERYTHING!

For example, if you know me, you know that India is destination #1 on Angie’s Travel wander-list. However, I haven’t been yet. Why? The timing has never been right. Going to India is such an undertaking, and I want to be able to be there for a month, if possible. I’ve always said I won’t make that journey in less than 3 weeks. And at this point, I haven’t been able to schedule that giant journey, during the proper time(s) of year, yet. Yet. I will get there. I know it.

During the past couple of years, Tristan and I have tossed around the idea of travelling to…. Ireland (check!), England (obviously, with my history there. I want very much to show him “my London”), Germany, France, Jamaica (check!), Greece (which was supposed to be our 2010 destination), and now Canada (with many other domestic trips taken together over the years). Tristan was not a traveler, until he met me – so we wanted to start out “easy”. Ireland was the perfect place to start our international journey together. And it was an amazing trip. We often talk about going back, renting a cottage, and just staying for a couple of weeks.

Personally, I don’t do tours. I did one when I was 16 years old – we saw 4 countries in 12 days. And although it was an amazing experience, and truly awakened my love of seeing the world – I never want to do that again. It was a very, very controlled environment, and well, that’s just not me. 😉

I can see doing a tour of sorts in only certain rare circumstances… Antarctica, perhaps. Or some countries with civil unrest… Egypt or Pakistan (which are both on my short-list). However, never would it be like it was when I was 16. I have to say, I have heard nothing but wonderful things about Gap Adventures, and when I want to utilize a tour service – it will be with them.

So, if you don’t do tours – you have to plan everything yourself, right? Right! Here are just a few things that I’ve learned over the years planning my trips, and trips for friends and family as well…

Connect with others. Trip Advisor. Frommer’s. Fodor’s. They all have reviews and travel message boards with people more than willing to help you answer any questions you might  have. Search for blogs about your destination. I did this before our Ireland trip, and now have a new friend…(Hi Dona!).

Research, research, research! Hit up your local bookstore (yes, they still exist) to page through some books you might want to buy. Also check out the best-reviewed books for your destination on Amazon. (Or, in the case of this Québec City book – get the only travel book published since 2008 that you can find on your destination! Hmm).  Obviously the Internet is a great resource as well. Even the tiniest B&B in rural Ireland probably has a website. Trust me, I’ve stayed there!

Learn to love maps. Yes, smartphones are great. As are GPS units. However, I never travel without paper maps/atlas. They are a godsend.

Go off the beaten path. I don’t think of myself as a “tourist”. In fact, you’d be wise not to use that word around me.  When you travel, immerse yourself in the local culture. Try to “live” where you are visiting. Patronize local restaurants. Find the local market and buy some new and interesting products. Ask locals for advice.

Learn the language! Tristan and I will both be learning/brushing up on our French, if we take this trip to Québec City this summer. I took French in 6th-8th grades, which was, um, like 20 years ago now. Tristan has never studied French before. We have the Rosetta Stone French Levels 1 & 2, and are going to utilize those.

It looks like we’ll be saying Au revoir!  in August. Time to get my plan on!


4 Comments Post a comment
  1. Woo hoo!!! How fun!! I love Frommers when we go to new places! I think they are good and so is Lonely Planet. I’m excited to hear more about this trip!

    April 28, 2011
  2. Hi Angie!

    I love to plan trips and love to be on the trip I planned but for some reason become anxious about going on the trip I planned before I go. (probably because I want it to be perfect and because I really don’t like to fly)

    You’ve given some great advice here.

    Our next international trip is probably to Denmark. I’m hoping to learn some Danish between now and when we go.

    I’m also going to visit Hawaii with my mom within the next 12 months and look forward to planning for that.

    I want to see all 50 states before I die (at my age I have bucket lists instead of short lists/long lists). I think I have about 20 left to visit.

    April 29, 2011
  3. this is awesome! have fun in Quebec!! I bet it’s like a mini mini France. 🙂

    April 30, 2011
  4. Yay for Quebec! 😀 I’ve never been to Canada, but it’s one of the countries I *definitely* want to visit in this life!

    When I was younger, I made a few bigger journeys with my parents, and it always was all about research! My parents are very culturally interested, so the first step was to get a map and research about what to visit, and then plan the route. My mom read a lot about the history of the country and was always able to tell a lot on the trip. I think you really have more from a journey if you do a little preparation like that.

    May 4, 2011

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