Hello! I have returned! If you’ve been following this blog, you may have noticed it and related social media sites have been fairly quiet for the past few months. Unfortunately I can only blame this on sheer mental exhaustion caused by bullying coworkers. And I don’t mean the other librarians attempted to shush me one too many times or glare at me over wire rim glasses. The work environment became so inhospitable that I took some time to think long and hard about ditching the nine-to-five and taking up the nomadic-work-remotely lifestyle. In the past couple months between bouts of tears and frustration-induced travel planning, I seriously thought about either becoming the next Bill Bryson (complete with sardonic observations and dry wit), or just becoming the Thunderbolt Kid*- oh to have the ability to strike down infuriating individuals! Currently the health insurance and benefits are too strong an incentive to walk away from the nine-to-five just yet, so for now this blog will remain that of a part-time traveler. But after all that stress, I NEED A VACATION.
The tickets are bought, the accommodations booked! The dream is really happening! I’m finally going to visit Prince Edward Island! I could not be more excited to be about to step into the world of Anne of Green Gables, that endlessly optimistic little orphan who found a world of love and beauty in PEI! Hopefully some of L. M. Montgomery’s spirit of optimism and delight in life she poured into her character can be found among the historic buildings and beautiful scenery of the island. And I hope too that the people we meet are “kindred spirits,” as Anne would call them. I have no doubt of this later hope, as Canadians are about the nicest people I’ve ever met. (As previously remarked upon here.) I fully intend to return from PEI with faith in humanity restored.
Afterwards, a wonderful birthday week will be spent in Chincoteague lounging on the beach, exploring the lighthouse, and watching wild ponies frolic in the marshes of Assateague. (Read about why I love Chincoteague so much here.) While planning a last minute trip is inadvisable, especially to Chincoteague during pony penning week… the summer flights are full, airfare and accommodations expensive, and there is literally not one room left open in town (I’ll put down a tent if I have to.), this is happening. So with the possibility of crowded airports, long customs lines in and out of Canada, and disgustingly packed beaches both in PEI and Chinco, it will be nothing short of adventure, and probably at least a few entertaining stories for you, the reader. So that’s what you have to look forward to.
In the meantime, I have been extensively travel planning. While my mother’s travel planning technique still involves filling the coffee table with stacks of guide books and paper maps (as well as leaving herself enough time to pour through it all), I have elected this summer to go with a much more minimalist- and perhaps more up-to-date (sorry Mom!) way of researching. Whaaat? The book lover is ditching the books? But what about the feel of the pages turning under your fingers? And that book smell? And the satisfaction of the highlighting and sticky tabbing? I know, I know. But as travel planning time is slim, let me share with you a few of the apps & websites I’ve been using for this summer’s vacation research:
Travel Planning Websites of Choice
Trover is like Pinterest for travel. Anyone can add photographs of places of interest and add a description that might aid those who wish to visit the location. This database of place photos can be searched and photographs added to lists such as “been there,” “want to go,” etc. It is a great resource for finding interesting places to visit in or near where ever you might be going. For Cavendish, PEI, home of the Anne of Green Gables heritage sites, I was able to find restaurant recommendations, hiking and beaches and accommodations of interest.
*Found Trover thanks to Young Adventuress. Read more about it here.
This isn’t to say I don’t use Pinterest. Pinterest is still a great place to look for links to articles about locations, cultures, things to see and do/not to see and do while traveling. It was thanks to an article on Pinterest that I learned about The $20 Trick in Las Vegas.
PEI Tourism Site
While Trover and Pinterest are great for finding articles and photographs by real individuals who have visited places and shared their experiences in an online forum, it doesn’t hurt to check out a location’s own tourism website. Why reinvent the wheel if you don’t have to? On the PEI site I was able to find a 3 day Anne of Green Gables itinerary. Boom. Planning done. Well sort of. After taking a look at it and doing a little pricing and location research on the places recommended, I modified it to suit my desires. But still, it was great to have a jumping off point for my planning.
Speaking of pre-made itineraries… RuebaRue has recommended itineraries for places to see and things to do in several major cities. There are pre-made itineraries with titles like, “3 days girls trip in Paris” or you can choose your interests, number of days, and pace you’d like to go and it will give you a recommended itinerary complete with travel time between sites, when to have lunch, and open hours of the attraction.
With a brief stop to visit family in Washington D.C. between PEI and Chincoteague, and a desire to do something different than the usual trip to the National Mall and Smithsonian Museums, I used Washington D.C. as a test. I found an all day bike rental and ride to Mt. Vernon (Washington’s home) complete with an evening river boat cruise back to the bike rental after your hours spent touring the house and grounds. This is definitely on my to-do list now for Washington D.C.
*Found RuebaRue thanks to A Dangerous Business. Read more about it here.
After all your research and planning you probably still have questions, but might be wondering how to connect to locals and previous visitors who will give you real opinions and information. Reddit (PEI subreddit here) is the perfect place to post a question to a location forum asking for advice, opinions, and information. Reddit’s users are always willing to be useful and will supply you with honest opinions not trumped up for travel website comment sections. Our first night in London with a loss as to where two sleepy Americans should go for dinner while wishing to avoid an overly tourist price tag, we found a recommendation for a great hole-in-the wall local fish and chips joint on Reddit and had a lovely dinner. I’m hoping for similar results this summer.
*If you haven’t read Bryson’s The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid, I recommend you do so immediately!