Travel resources to research and plan your overseas trip are not just easy to find, they're often free for the asking.
Even so, a lot of would-be travelers skip this part of travel planning and wind up at their destination knowing little about their surroundings or what to expect from their trip.
They ignore this part of the plan-ning process, either because they don't how to do it, or they haven't a clue where to find the kind of travel resources that can enhance their trip and improve their odds for a great travel experience.
They fail to invest in basic travel research to insure their trip will be fun, exciting, and filled with special memories.
Beyond checking a few 'big name' websites, travelers frequently fail to know how easily they can find unique travel resources that will make their trip worthy of the time and money they paid for their trip.
There are so many tasks to complete when planning a trip to Europe, they seem to assume choosing where to go is all you need to do.
And that the how should take care of itself.
Of course, nothing could be further from the truth.
Whether you're traveling as part of a hosted European trip, or 'doing' the Continent on your own, investing in basic research via great travel resources is the key to having a successful trip.
If you fail to do this, you’ll be as ill-equipped for your experience overseas as a college freshman taking finals without studying.
You’ll be intellectually clueless about where you’re going and everything you see and do.
You'll be emotionally unprepared for the people, places, history, and culture you encounter.
You not only won't have the best trip you could, but you'll miss out on the very essence of overseas travel.
Most travelers are familiar with the 'big name' online sites available to research and book a European trip.
But in addition to major online sites, there are numerous offline travel resources that can educate you about your destination, whether it's your first trip abroad, or you have multiple notches on your travel belt.
Great travel resources are easily found in your everyday world. And best of all, they don't cost a cent.
A little time, a little diligence, and soon you'll be knowledgeable, informed, and ready to go.
And believe it or not, both your trip and your memories will be much better for it.
What was once a staple of overseas travel information - but often overlooked by travelers today - is the endless supply of travel resources at your local, store-front travel agency: free travel brochures.
Almost anywhere you live, there's a convenient brick and mortar travel agency, where you can request brochures for destinations, tours, and general information for the areas you plan to visit.
Free travel brochures offer terrific ideas not only for potential destinations, but outlines for itineraries and local sight-seeing, day tours and local events, in condensed, easy to read form.
Since travel brochures are marketing tools, you'll also find an array of colorful photos, along with descriptive overviews of places to include in your travel plan.
While frequently short on details, tour brochures can alternately provide the 'big picture' for cities and regional areas, timetables between locations, overviews of what to see and do, and cost comparisons for going it on your own.
Another source for free travel brochures are international tour operators, who specialize in escorted group tours.
Many tour operators are now found on-line, and you can frequently request brochures for their pre-arranged tours and packages.
While formerly wholesale only to the trade, international tour companies today will often send brochures directly to you, if you're interested in one of their programs or packages. While some offer brochure download only, you can often request a full-color brochure be mailed.
Just be sure you have a genuine interest in the area you're requesting materials for. If not, print them yourself!
Once you have a selection of brochures, make note of pricing information for both escorted tours and independent packages. This will give you a figure to work toward, as you create your own travel budget.
Free brochures are the perfect travel resource to help you develop the structure of your trip.
Study the routes of prearranged tours and use them as a guide for your own itinerary. Specifically note the time allowed between places and events, as well as locations and duration of overnight 'stops'.
Evaluate points of interest and local attractions tour operators include in their schedules.
This will help you decide  important things to see and do, and  where to schedule overnight stops, if you plan to do Europe on your own.
Whether or not you plan to work with an independent agent and follow their advice is a personal choice. For travelers who've not traveled to Europe, working with an agent to guide your decisions and book major trip components is the smart way to go.
But remember, the advice of a professional travel agent is no longer free. Few agents can afford to do business in today's travel environment without assessing fees for their services.
If you want their input, you’ll pay a nominal fee. But if you book at least part of your trip with them, fees are usually waived. For most agents, travel brochures are still free.
A trip to your local library can provide you with some of the best travel resources available - with a slightly different twist.
Often overlooked as a source of travel information [but frequently with a unique point of view] are the settings and backgrounds of novels and non-fiction books, written about, or which take place in, overseas locations throughout Europe and the world.
Our increasingly global society means more and more authors use international settings for their literary works, and travelers who read them are frequently persuaded by what they read to visit a particular overseas destination.
Rome, London, Paris, and rural Scotland have all increased their inflow of tourist dollars by travelers looking to resolve personal questions conceived by these fast-moving works of fiction.
Perhaps Hemingway’s memoir A Moveable Feast intrigues you to search out the remnants of 1920's Paris, when the City of Light was a creative mecca for young artists and authors and served as home base to the would-be-famous expats, who settled there.
For the truly intrepid reader, no literary work can breathe life into the true soul of Spain more vividly than Michener’s voluminous Iberia.
This non-fiction tome should be required reading for any traveler visiting Spain to understand the heart of Spanish culture.
These are the kind of travel resources that offer you personal insights, a unique point of view, and unabridged perspectives you won't find in more common-place travel resources.
So before your next trip, seek out an international best seller - or better still - a classical narrative by someone who's lived and breathed overseas. I guarantee you'll learn more about a great place to travel than all the websites combined!
Find additional tips on travel resources and research in the following article:
Online Travel Research can simplify your Europe travel planning. But which are the best travel web sites to use?