creating a personalized travel guide
In this week’s post, I’d like to introduce you to Irene Ternier Gordon, an author friend of mine who did a guest post on about her speaking gig on Via Rail. This week, Irene shares with us how to create your own travel journal. Over to Irene …
Creating your own personalized travel guide
by Irene Ternier Gordon
When I casually mentioned to Doreen one day that I had spent much of that day preparing a personalized travel guide for the trip my husband Don and I were planning — a combination of Caribbean cruise and 10 days at Marathon in the Florida Keys — she asked me if I would do a blog post on the topic. My first reaction was, “Doesn’t everyone do this in the Internet Age? Why would anyone be interested in my guide?” She convinced me that everyone was not making personalized guides and that I should write about mine.
My guides consist in material downloaded from the Internet and filed in a binder. I usually begin by checking out what Wikipedia has to say about the places we’re visiting because Wikipedia includes an overview of their history, geology, climate, flora and fauna, and culture and recreation. Next I check official websites from these places. In many cases official sites have far too much info on hotels, restaurants and shopping and not enough info on places to visit for my taste. Because I am a history buff and Don loves maps and geology, I also download Google maps and extra articles about the history and geology of the places we are going.
Two useful sites for Marathon, Florida (a place we were visiting) were “Road Trip: Florida Keys” at travel.nationalgeographic.com and “The Florida Keys: Marathon” at goflorida.about.com. Then I downloaded more detailed information about three places that sounded particularly interesting — the Dolphin Research Center, Curry Hammock State Park, and Crane Point Museum and Nature Center.
the guide for each destination will be distinctly different
The guide I produced for a trip to Scotland last year was much more detailed than usual because we went with three distinct purposes in mind — to visit the town where Don’s great-grandfather was born, to see the sights of Edinburgh, and to visit places connected with the books I have written about the Canadian fur trade. Because it was not possible to book tours for many of the specific places we wanted to see, we rented a car and planned our own tour. Don is one of the few people I know who is brave enough to drive in the British Isles on the wrong side of the road. I already had a large amount of historical material about the places connected to the fur trade, but I copied detailed physical descriptions and hiking guides so that we could tour them on our own.
Once we arrive at our destinations, we usually are able to obtain brochures and maps to supplement the information I have included in my guide. Then on our return home, I convert the guide into a souvenir journal. I discard material that we didn’t use, and I add brochures and maps that we collected and download more information about some of the things we saw or did.
In the top picture on the cover of my guide I am posing with a gumbo-limbo tree in Curry Hammock State Park. For those who are unfamiliar with this tree, it is nick-named the tourist tree because its red, peeling bark looks like a sunburn. The lower picture shows the Queen’s Steps in Nassau, Bahamas.
Thanks, Irene for this great post! I think it’s really cool how you’ve created these personalized travel guides for each of your trips. Way more economical than purchasing travel guides, also more up to date, as you pull the info off the internet right before you leave (or as you are doing your planning) vs taking it from a guidebook that may be a year or more out of date. How about the rest of you? Have you done something similar to what Irene does in her trip planning? Or have you come up with another unique way to prepare for your trips?