One of the questions I was asked in a recent interview about photography was in regards to how I did my research to information for the places that I go. We’ve covered this topic before and today I thought it would be helpful to list the top websites that I use for trip research. Most of these are pretty obvious, but I’ll explain to you how I use them.
There are a couple different ways to use Google for Internet searches. The web search is the obvious primary function. The search topics I look for are the names of hikes or places and pictures. One useful feature of this site is the Google Images. This is an excellent way to find information. Not only is the search done by pictures, but it takes the user to the landing pages of those images. Sometimes this kills two birds with one stone. Instead of searching for articles containing your keywords, you do a keyword search on pictures and clicking on the image takes you to information on the pictures.
For online book or map purchases, I believe Amazon is the best retailer. The navigation features of the website are user friendly, they offer suggestions for related products, and the prices and customer service are generally very good. I almost always use Amazon to purchase maps and guide books for areas outside of my home state, where it is harder to find information at your local bookstore.
Flickr is probably my favorite site for obtaining or viewing images on places I am interested in visiting. It is not necessary to have a membership in order to search and see results on their site. You can see my Flickr page here.
I like this site for hard to find areas, especially when it comes to backpacking trips. Videos often times give even more significant and realistic impression of the places you are trying to research.
NPS has several useful features that are sometimes worth checking out depending on when and where you are traveling. Each park has its own website so the layout and usefulness varies from site to site. Thus some sites have information and navigation features that are easier to use and find than others. The top reasons I visit are for viewing general park maps, getting contact information for the ranger stations, useful links for the weather and activities, and checking the park’s webcams.
In the last ten days before a trip, there is no site that gets more use than this one. The only other site that has a longer extended forecast is accuweather.com Other weather sites that I frequent are weatherundergound.com, who also has the best mobile site for weather and weather.gov, which is the national weather service’s web page that also gives the most detailed information available on issues like forest fires and storm advisories.
This is my default site for doing research on hotels and places to stay. I think Trip Advisor has the best and most honest reviews online. To books the hotels, it usually works best if you just go to the hotel’s actual website. Another useful site that I usually refer to for reviews is hotels.com, although I don’t trust the reviews on it nearly as much. It has a useful search feature of organizing hotels by cost, which is normally very accurate and current, and includes last minute deals.
I hope you had a wonderful holiday and found this information helpful. If there are any websites that you love to use that I didn’t include please feel free to let me know. It always rewarding to hear from users!