Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Notes from an (un)prepared traveler

My plans for Ireland this summer are arranged. I have my flight, my plans, my program and the list goes on. I have told myself from the beginning I wanted to read up on Ireland and all of its history, but for the most part I have been procrastinating. I even had a movie to-do list typed up before I knew for sure I was going, and yet I haven’t watched a single one. It’s not that I am not excited for Ireland; I am counting down the days until I leave (26 days!). I am just struggling with a travel argument that probably has no right answer: How much should you know about a country before visiting?

...additions to my Ireland to-do list 

When I traveled through Spain two summers ago, I knew everything there was to know about the country. My entire 4th year in Spanish was dedicated to Spain’s history and culture which is why I chose Spain as my first country to travel abroad to. Although I knew a lot about Spain, there were things I still learned from there that couldn’t be taught in a textbook or even a travel blog. That is why I struggle to even look at a movie about Ireland or catch up on my Irish culture books. Not because I don’t care but because maybe I am supposed to do it different this time around. A part of me is curious as to how my experience this summer will go if I don’t know a lot about Irish culture as I did with Spain and I like the challenge. Another part of me is still thinking I should at least know some things so I don’t look like a complete tourists.

So I pose this question to you. How much should you know about a country before visiting it?