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Make the most of your travels: Do these things to research an area before you go

At age 87, Michelangelo said: “I am still learning.” Think about that! Amazing, isn’t it? I believe a very similar attitude beats inside the hearts of many RVers. It’s what prompts us to travel across the country to see what we’ve never seen before. The urge to revisit favorite places from our past also springs from the need to learn what’s changed and what still matches the picture committed to memory.

Do some research to make the most of your travels

In the spirit of learning, I’d like to encourage you to do a bit of investigation before you hit the road for your next RV trip. Here’s what I mean:

  • Read a historical book about the region you plan to visit. Find out how the area was first settled, who its first inhabitants were, and how the region has changed over time.
  • Learn about natural resources from the area’s past and what fuels the local economy now. If it’s changed, try to find out what prompted the change.
  • Read some fictional books set in the historical time period that interests you most about the area. It may give you a glimpse into the lives of people who lived in the region long ago, and help you appreciate your visit even more. (Note: Knowing that we planned to winter in the Sunshine State, a good friend suggested that I read the book, “A Land Remembered” by Patrick D. Smith. It chronicles the lives of Florida’s first settlers and describes a region vastly different from what it is today. The book helped me appreciate our RV stay in a whole new way.)
  • Research historical sites, museums, hiking or biking trails, area tours, and other activities that may help you learn more while visiting your destination.

Full disclosure…

My family lived in Florida for seven years. Our children were teens at the time, and we spent most of our “free time” attending school sports events, dramatic presentations, or choir concerts. Working full time didn’t allow for much else, except the occasional trip to the beach and evacuating due to approaching hurricanes.

When we decided some 20+ years later as retirees to “winter” in Florida, I felt I knew all there was to know about the state. I didn’t need to do anything extra to make the most of my travels since I already knew the state, right? After all, I’d lived there! I’d even taught elementary children about Florida’s history, economy, and topography. What was left to learn?

Well, quite a LOT actually! Turns out, the Florida curriculum (during the time I taught) barely skimmed the surface of the Sunshine State’s rich heritage. It’s taken three “winters” of experiencing Florida for me to figure out that I’ll probably never learn all there is to know about the railroad barons, native Seminoles, crackers (Florida cowboys), and more.

Thomas Edison wintered in Florida, along with his friend Henry Ford. It was Ford who famously said, “Anyone who stops learning is old, whether twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young.”

I agree with you, Mr. Ford. I agree!

Recent poll: When you travel to a new place what do you most like to do first?

##RVDT1816

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Kim Miller
5 months ago

My father-in-law wrote the book you mention in your article, thank you for mentioning it! My husband used to do a very popular multi-media show about his father and this book. Hundreds of people through the years told us how they gift that book to friends who are moving or “snowbirding” in Florida. We’ve heard it said that it should be given to all who cross the Florida border…along with a glass of orange juice.

Great advice to do your research before you travel. I wouldn’t dream of doing otherwise.

Gail
5 months ago
Reply to  Kim Miller

So glad you took the time to comment, Kim. I agree with offering o.j. and the book at the FL border! Happy travels!

Tom H.
6 months ago

I’m a history buff. I love to research the areas that we are traveling through. It gives you a better appreciation of places and people you see!

Virginia Reeves
6 months ago

Before we travel, I do a search for ‘museums in …..’ I organize that information into regions and look it up on Trip Advisor or on its own. I create a document with pertinnent information and look at reviews for more details. I also find out what else is in that area and add that to my list. Helps me plan how long to stay in an area and I always have places to see and things to do. We generally stop at visitor centers as well and invariably ask other travelers for suggestions.

Tommy Molnar
6 months ago

If you’re a metal detector kind of person (and I am), reading up on the “early days” of an area known to have had an interesting past can be a big help.

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