Getting the lay of the land: Resources for scouting out overseas travel destinations

Do you like to go off the beaten tourist path and explore exotic destinations? Planning a trip that involves spontaneous exploration can be a little tricky, but a good place to start is by checking out one or more of the following world travel guides:

  1. US State Department. The State Department maintains a databank of useful information about virtually all countries in the world. Their site will tell you if there are any travel alerts or travel warnings in the area, but will also provide information about such things as civil unrest, health issues or workers' strikes. This overseas travel guide is also a good place to find out what documentation you'll need to enter the country, provide you with the location of the United States embassy or consulate, and resources on health insurance and transportation.
  2. USA.gov. Another US government travel resource is USA.gov. This Web site offers up-to-date information on currency exchange rates, travel warnings, documentation and a wealth of other country-specific information.
  3. CIA World Fact Book. If you're interested in learning a little bit about the culture and daily life of the people in the country you'll be visiting, then take a look at the CIA World Fact Book. This resource, maintained by the Central Intelligence Agency, offers information about the history, geography, economy and government of a country.
  4. Fodors.com. For unbiased information on restaurants, hotels, nightlife and sightseeing, Fodors.com is hard to beat. This website is the online home of the travel guidebook series that offers travel tips on safety, standard electrical voltage and outlet types, documentation and weather.
  5. IndependentTraveler.com. The Independent Traveler is a website full of articles written by travelers just like you. It's here you'll find advice that's relevant to any tourist destination. You'll be able to read stories and tips on sightseeing, accommodations, transportation and what to expect. You can also write your own review when you return from your trip and share your experience with other travelers.

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