There’s something about the physical exploration of going to an actual store, perusing the aisles, and picking up guidebooks that is ideal prep for choosing where to travel next.

I love to travel. And even though I do a lot of it, my bucketlist of places to explore seems to grow faster than I can keep up with. Deciding where to go next can be overwhelming. And even though the internet is obviously a fantastic tool for travelers, its endless presentation of possibilities can also be overwhelming. Bookstores, on the other hand (as old fashioned as it may be), are ideal for helping decide where to go next. Here’s why:

1. It’s all about the physical act of exploring

I love to go the bookstore and wander through the travel section. There’s something about the physical exploration of going to an actual store, perusing the aisles, and picking up real books that gets me excited for traveling. In part because it mimics the physical act of traveling: there’s a sense of exploration and openness to new ideas.


2. The time constraint prompts decision making

I can spend weeks or even months looking online without ever making a decision of where to go next because there’s no sense of urgency. For me at least, the endless amount of information online and the 24/hr nature in which it can be consumed leads to indecision. But when I’m shopping in real life, there’s always a time limit. Even if I don’t have somewhere to be, there’s always closing time. Having this time limit helps put a deadline on making the decision of where to go. Every time I’ve made the effort to go to the physical bookstore, I’ve left within a couple of hours with a destination and the vague outlines of a plan.

3. The limited selection helps focus the decision

Once I’ve decided where I’m going, I love to get online and find information on things to do that aren’t in guidebooks. Things like exploring Paris’ abandoned railroad or this amazing carcass of a plane wreck on the lava fields in Iceland. But before I’ve made the decision of where I’m going, I find that the internet just has too much information for me to sift through. It scatters my wanderlust many times around the world. This is one of the reasons why my bucketlist keeps growing. On the other hand, the limited nature of the physical bookstore helps physically focus my wanderlust. It’s an enabling constraint that allows me to quickly follow my gut by grabbing a few books and making a decision for my next adventure.IMG_1818

I’ll often buy a guidebook once I’ve made the decision of where my next travel adventure will take me. For me, getting the book is often the first step of the trip itself. It’s the springboard for focusing my research online. It commits me to my decision and helps builds the anticipation for the trip ahead.

Related reading

You should disguise your travel guidebook. Here’s how.

5 important lessons I learned from “Europe, travel through the backdoor”

How to actually use the internet for travel planning

6 websites about Iceland that are better than a travel book

— Laura Rowley


Written by Laura Rowley

I am an artist, flight attendant, and travel blogger.

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