Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Two Unusual Things To Do Before A Trip

Getting ready for an upcoming trip is an exciting time. The process of planning and preparing often add to the enjoyment of the actual trip. Our primary actions are often focused on the necessary details - making reservations, planning the itinerary, stopping the mail delivery, checking the weather forecasts, and packing the right clothing and essentials. However, adding two additional items - reading books and watching movies - to our pre-trip to-do list can increase the anticipation and excitement before a trip and add more FUN and enjoyment during the trip.

1. Reading Books

Once we have a destination and itinerary in mind, we often find that there is a book (or books) that will help us prepare for the trip. I'm not talking about travel books here, although those can definitely be useful. The kind of books we read are ones that are related to our destination or the activities we'll be enjoying.

For example, we will be visiting Gettysburg this fall, so Robbie is reading the Fiction Pulitzer Prize winning book The Killer Angels. I read this historical novel earlier this year (and reviewed it here). It is a fictionalized account of the battle of Gettysburg. When we drive through Gettysburg National Military Park, we'll not only see the actual battle sites, we'll also have a better understanding of why and how the battle became one of the bloodiest engagements of the Civil War.

On our upcoming trip, we are also planning to see the movie The Martian. I just recently discovered that this movie is based on a fiction book by Andy Weir, so I am (of course) reading the book first! The Martian is a hard-to-put-down story about astronaut Mark Watney who is stranded on Mars when his crew assumes he is dead and leaves without him. I admit that I might have stayed up a bit later than usual last night and am halfway through the book. I only stopped because I couldn't hold my eyes open any longer. (And I'm not allowing myself to pick it up again today until I accomplish some of the items on my to-do list!) I'm looking forward to seeing the movie adaptation of this book.

Sometimes books can be the INSPIRATION for where we choose to go and what we do on our trips, too. Our visit to the Laura Ingalls Wilder Homes & Museum in Mansfield, Missouri, earlier this year was actually prompted by the fact that I had recently re-read all the Little House books and completed two online courses about Laura Ingalls Wilder's writing life. I had spent a good bit of time immersed in the life of Laura Ingalls Wilder, which greatly added to my enjoyment of the homes and museums. In fact, there were several times that I wanted to jump in and add to the tour guides commentary!

2. Watching Movies

As I mentioned, we'll be visiting Gettysburg soon, so it was only logical that we prepare ourselves by watching the Gettysburg movie. Although I read The Killer Angels back in February, I am not the best at remembering historical details. This film adaptation of Michael Shaara's book was filmed at the actual battle sites and is a great review of the material I read. Having read the book and now seeing the movie will make visiting the site more memorable and help me to more accurately understand and visualize what happened during that epic battle.

Last year before our trip to Florida, we re-watched all eight of  the Harry Potter movies in preparation for our visit to Harry Potter World at Universal Studios. Although we've both read the books and watched all the movies several times before, having so recently watched the dementors searching the Hogwarts Express for Sirius Black certainly made the dementor shadows seem more real (and creepy) on our trip from Kings Cross Station (at Universal Studios) to Hogsmeade (at Universal's Islands of Adventure).

Similarly, we watched Night at the Museum before our trip to New York in 2007, adding to our enjoyment when visiting The Museum of Natural History. Unfortunately, on our daytime visit, none of the exhibits came to life!

However, our most unusual movie watching experience associated with a trip was Robbie's unique idea to watch The Poseidon Adventure, not before our 10th Anniversary cruise, but on the actual cruise itself . . . on New Year's Eve! We brought along our portable DVD player and the movie so we could ring in the New Year in our stateroom, enjoying a movie!

What unusual things do you do to prepare for a trip?


  1. I admire the thought and energy you put into your preparations! I am sure you get so much more out of your trips because of this. I am afraid I think I am prepared if I have a passport, sone money and a toothbrush :).

  2. Since I am a storyteller I often see what stories are associated with that area. Is there a Native American myth/legend for the area if in the US. Our favorite vacation place Lake City Colorado was the site of the Packard Cannibal Massacre, so I have researched that and made it into a pretty scary story with a modern twist at the end.

  3. I do a lot of reading, mostly nonfiction, before a trip, and agree totally that anticipation and preparing for a trip is part of its pleasure. Enjoy Gettysburg! We spent a wonderful long weekend there years ago, and I still have vivid memories of the experience. I loved The Killer Angels, but I think I read it when it was published; that was quite awhile ago! One of the best books I've read in the last few years about the civil war was Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin.

  4. We always buy lots of books which of course isn't unusual in itself: but what we have found happen is that whatever novels we buy often have an unexpected mention of the place we are visiting. If I buy a book to take to Oslo, when I'm there I discover one of the characters in the book..taking a trip to Oslo. I like it when this happens

  5. Well, I applaud your preparation. My hubby loved Michael Shaara's book and we just saw The Martian this past weekend. When traveling to new places, we often look for a local bookstore and then try to find either a book by a local/regional author or if I get my way, a mystery set in their locale.

  6. I have a couple things I'd like to comment on in this post. #1---and I'm going to say this BOLDLY---HIRE THE PRIVATE TOUR GUIDE at Gettysburg!! I cannot emphasize this enough. It's not that expensive---maybe $30. He will get in your car and actually take you through the entire battle and town and what it was like. It is by far the BEST tour we've ever had anywhere in the US. We would love to do it again! #2---what I do to prepare for a trip---I take a large manilla envelope for each day of my trip. I put the day and date on the outside along with the sights we're seeing that day. Then, at the end of the day, I put all ticket stubs in the envelope and make notes on the outside of any special moments or things I want to remember about the day. I move that envelope to the back in preparation for the next day. Then, when I get back home, it's so easy to put the photos that go with each corresponding day in the proper envelope. Voila'! All organized for scrapbooking!

  7. I was going to recommend a private tour at Gettysburgh - we wanted to do this but ran out of time. But Barbara got there first :)

    When we are preparing for a trip, we'll watch documentaries, read books and articles, talk to people about suggested places to go and things to do/see and then make up an itinerary. However, once there we're happy to allow stuff to change or develop.

    Hope you have fun on your trip - you should have lots of inspiration.

    Listening to several scientists and Sci Fi writers discuss the plot and science of the Martian film was interesting... I do want to read the book tho'.


Thanks so much for your comment - it's like a ray of sunshine in my day!