The School of Athens

Research Tips

Take the time to research the culture of the country you will visit. Not only is it educational but you will realize every culture has a few similarities.

The School of Athens: Raphael
Vatican Museum - Vatican City, Italy

Research Tips


Take the time to research the culture of the country you will visit. Not only is it educational but you will realize every culture has a few similarities. Some things you may consider weird is often the norm for another culture. I guarantee you will find a few things interesting and want to learn more about the place your visiting before your trip. It's surreal to know these things upon arrival and experience the culture first hand for a few days.


When traveling to a foreign country I suggest you research the history of the place you are visiting to learn about the past which will give you insight to the present day culture. A quick Google search will produce a broad range of historical facts about the country. You can choose to study many things or you may concentrate on a few points of interest. I love to use the DK Eyewitness Travel Guide Books as a source because they provide a great introductory background along with pictures of past and present day. Choose any method of research that works best for you.


It's always best to know a few basic words to help communicate with the locals. I recommend you buy an inexpensive language dictionary and download free apps such as Duolingo and practice speaking several weeks before your trip. Communicating in a foreign language can be frustrating but it can be very interesting trying to order off a menu and asking for directions in another language. Yes you will possibly pronounce many things wrong but the locals will love you all the more for trying to speak in their native tongue. And trust me you will most likely incorporate a lot of funny hand gestures to help get your point across.

Reading Book Confused


Immerse yourself into the culture of the country by listening to timeless classics of old and new while relaxing. Youtube is a wonderful source of cultural music. If I'm at home I will grab a glass of wine and put on my music of choice and surround myself in an ambience of the the country I imagine myself visiting at the moment. If I'm in the park, on the bus or walking down the street and I want to temporarily get away from the hustle and bustle, I will put on my headphones and escape from it all. There's nothing like the sound of sweet music in your ears to help you feel like you are in that country no matter where you are.

Listening To Music


Reading travel books is a fun way to build excitement for your trip and is a great way to armchair travel to anywhere in the world from the comfort of your home. It's the cheapest way to explore places you've always wanted to see and many of these books may actually inspire you to travel there one day. In fact after reading the book "Under the Tuscan Sun", I was inspired to decorate my tiny studio apartment as a Tuscan Villa and eventually fulfilled my dream of traveling to Italy, twice! With so many literary options available I urge you to start looking for all types of travel information, take notes and start armchair traveling wherever your heart desires.

- My Favorite Travel Books -

  1. Guide books
    • 1,000 Places To See Before You Die - by Patricia Schultz

    • DK Eyewitness Travel Guide Books - by Dorling Kindersley Limited

    • Rick Steves Guide Books - by Rick Steves

    • The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World - by Bob Sehlinger and Len Testa

  2. Destination books
    • "A Year in Provence" by Peter Mayle - (France)

    • "Toujours Provence" by Peter Mayle - (France)

    • "Under the Tuscan Sun" by Frances Mayes - (Italy)

    • "Bella Tuscany" by Frances Mayes - (Italy)


Watching movies, documentaries and video clips is a fun way to build excitement for your trip. Schedule a movie night and eat a meal reminiscent to the place of the movie you are watching. Watch documentaries and YouTube video clips to learn the historical aspect of the place and get a glimpse of the present day life.

- My Favorite Travel Movies -

  1. Destination movies
    • "Under the Tuscan Sun" starring Diane Lane - (Tuscany, Italy)

    • "The Tourist" starring Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp - (Venice, Italy)

    • "Last Holiday" starring Queen Latifah - (Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic)