What they call pre-production in the film biz is my favorite part of getting ready for a trip. The life-long-library-loving journalist quadrant of my brain adores research. This is research plus anticipation. What’s not to love?
My modus operandi is to spend a couple of days comparing flights for optimal comfort /minimal expense, and scour TripAdvisor.com for potential accommodations, with a strong preference for B&Bs. Once I pull the trigger on the rooms and flights, I drill down: scan travel sites, compare guide books, watch travel shows, read novels set in the destination city, follow travel blogs, create a music playlist, Google map my way from where I’m staying to museums and other attractions. From that information, I craft detailed daily itineraries, with rain versus shine options. It’s total immersion and a tad obsessive. Okay, more than a tad.
One of the great pleasures of planning the trip is Imagining my adventure in detail. A novelist might call it world building. Nothing is sweeter… until I go a little crazy from trying to anticipate every possible variable and slide into the delusion that I can control said variables. That way lies misery. Here’s the deal I make with myself. I get to plan and prepare and visualize all I want, but then I get out of the results business. Accept absolutely that I cannot control the outcome. What I can influence, is my attitude. As Rick Steves famously suggests, “If things are not to your liking, change your liking.”
Which brings me to the apps. As part of my research, I wanted to track down books about the Louvre. After much fumbling around in the library, Barnes & Noble and online, I wised up. I realized I was looking on the wrong shelf, so to speak. I hit paydirt in the app store.
I downloaded two iPad/iPhone app guides to the Louvre, https://itunes.apple.com/en/app/louvre-audioguide/id526191255?mt=8 and two to the recently renovated and expanded Rijksmuseum. The museum guides are free, by the way – go to the museum websites or straight to iTunes. HD images of gorgeous gorgeous gorgeous art. If you have an ipad, check it out.
I opted to set up a My Louvre account on the museums website, as well as sign up for e-newletters from the Rijks. I’ve become a friend of the Louvre, Oui, je suis un card-carrying ami des Louvre. Not only does that put my money where my heart is, it entitles me to free entry to the museum for a year.