Did you know that your public library is a vacation planner's paradise?
In recent years, directors of library systems and their staffs have embraced new technologies while maintaining their print resources, making your local library the ideal place to plan your next trip. Whether you prefer thumbing through guidebooks or looking up hotel reviews online, you'll find plenty of trip planning resources at your closest library branch.
Most library systems regularly update their collection of travel guidebooks. If you can't find the latest edition of your favorite guidebook, you can probably find travel guides that are just a year or two old. Use these editions to research the places you would like to visit, then do some online research or buy a newer edition of the guidebook you like best before you finalize your travel plans.
Although budget cutbacks may have reduced the number of travel magazine subscriptions at your local library, you can probably find enough travel-themed periodicals at your local branch to help you jump start your vacation planning. In addition to traditional travel magazines, look for regional magazines such as Southern Living or Sunset, which offer trip ideas within the states they cover. History magazines often offer travel tips, and several of the top food magazines are filled with restaurant reviews for major cities around the world.
In addition to travel guidebooks, library collections typically include travel DVDs. You can check out episodes from popular television travel series and watch them at home. You may also find history and foreign language DVDs helpful as you prepare for your vacation.
Foreign Language Resources
If you are planning a trip to another country, head to your public library and ask about language learning resources. In addition to DVD-based language learning series, your library system may offer online language programs that you can access from home or your local library branch. Learning a few polite words and phrases in the language of your destination country will help you get better customer service and improve your understanding of local customs and traditions.
eReaders and eBooks
While using an eReader feels completely different from paging through a printed book, eReaders are particularly convenient for travelers. You can load up an eReader with several books, including some travel guidebooks, and take the light, slim eReader on your trip instead of the stack of books you typically pack. Some library systems are now lending not only books and DVDs, but eReaders and eBooks. Borrowing an eReader can reduce the weight of your baggage and help you bring enough reading material to last your entire trip. Check with your local librarian for details.
If your local library system does not lend eReaders or eBooks, ask whether you can borrow them from another library system in your state under a reciprocity agreement.
Perhaps you've always wanted to plan your own vacation, but have not had time to learn to use a computer to do research, document your plans and make reservations. Many library systems offer basic computer training classes for adults, usually for free. You can learn to conduct online research, use email, create documents and spreadsheets and, perhaps, look for your ancestors' records, which would be particularly useful if you hope to plan a genealogy vacation. Once you feel comfortable using the Internet, you can turn to Facebook, Twitter and other online travel sites to help you plan your vacation.