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Travel is exciting — make sure you plan well

“Two roads diverged in a wood and I – I took the one less traveled by.” — Robert Frost

By Amanda Bosch     

Rowan Public Library 

To me, there is nothing better than the opportunity to explore new places, meet new people, taste new food and experience new adventures. Some of my favorite places are within a day’s drive of home but far enough away to leave the daily worries and routine behind and start a new adventure, others are halfway around the world and some I have yet to discover.

Planning a trip can be overwhelming, scary and induce anxiety. Many people will just choose to hand over the task to someone else: Hire a travel agent, buy a packaged tour or seek out an adventure expert to let them plan their grand adventure.

For those of us who prefer a little more control and are up for the challenge, a visit to Rowan Public Library can help you plan a daily itinerary for your trip, whether it be near or far.

Recently, I took my teenage daughter to Paris and Barcelona and after booking the trip thought, “What did I get us into and what on earth are we going to do each day?” I knew about the Louvre museum and Eiffel Tower in Paris and I knew we couldn’t see everything. It was overwhelming to think about all the options and what stops we could see each day. I didn’t want to spend precious trip time deciding the day’s itinerary so before our travels, I checked out “Rick Steve’s Paris” from the library and used it as a guide to plan each day’s adventures.

From the Eiffel Tower to the Louvre Museum and Luxembourg gardens, I found restaurant suggestions, travel tips and planned for expenses like ticket prices and metro passes.  There is even an audio guide one can download for the Louvre. Walks through Montmartre and Notre Dame are offered with points of interest explained along the way.

Of course, we still had many surprises on our trip like the Christmas market we discovered near Notre Dame, the French country miniature Christmas village in Notre Dame and even the college students who serenaded us with Christmas carols in Barri Gotic, the Gothic quarter of Barcelona.

National Geographic Traveler and Fodor’s “Barcelona” were invaluable resources as my daughter and I planned our time in Barcelona. We found an insider tip from National Geographic suggesting we “watch an amazing light and music show at the Magical Fountain in front of the Montjuic Palace on weekend evenings” that led to a fun-filled night as we listened to a variety of music from rock to pop, classical and even Disney theme songs while we watched the colorful, pulsing lights highlight the dancing water.

We explored Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia, and used the maps in Fodor’s Barcelona to plan our walk from the cathedral to Park Guell. Tips on metro schedules, buses and maps were invaluable as we navigated the city.

In fact, we were navigating so well that another tourist approached us for directions and when we explained we were not Spanish speakers, she was shocked because, as she told us, “I thought you were from here.”

Traveling can go by so quickly that planning the trip can be a worthwhile endeavor and enhance your enjoyment while you are immersed in a new adventure. Build anticipation by imagining what each day will hold.

Time spent planning the journey is never wasted as I find that the days spent preparing for the trip are almost as enjoyable as the adventure itself as I discover what my choices are and decide which places I want to explore.

But don’t just wait for a vacation to check out the travel guides. While they are a wonderful tool for vacation planning, it’s always fun to peruse the travel guides and daydream about the exotic faraway places you might visit someday. Or you can discover new places nearby or learn about the history about familiar spots as you read what others might suggest travelers do in your favorite locales.

The library is a great place to get started, whether planning your trip or fantasizing about future travels!

“Oh, look at that …” scavenger hunt: Through Feb. 28, East branch. Olaf’s body has come apart yet again. Can you put all nine pieces back together again before he melts? Find the pieces and be entered into a raffle contest for a literary-themed prize. For more information, contact Tammie Foster at 704-216-7842.

Random Fandom: Celebrate your favorite fandoms with a mix of games, crafts, snacks and screenings. For more information, contact Hope at 704-216-8258. “Star Wars” Feb. 5, East, 6:30 p.m.; Feb. 5, headquarters, 4:30 p.m.; South, Feb. 7, 6 p.m.

Blind Date with a Book: Feb. 1-28, South. Life is full of surprises. All ages are welcome to experience the mystery of checking out an unknown book and discovering what’s in the wrapping. This program is for all ages. For more details, call 704-216-7842. Also at East Feb. 1-14.

Lego Saturday: Headquarters, Feb. 3, 10 a.m.-noon. Legos are available for creative free play. This program is for children.

Baby Time: Birth-23 months. Highly interactive 30-minute program for children and their adult caregivers. Headquarters, Wednesdays, 10 a.m.; East, Mondays, 10 a.m.; South, Tuesdays, 10:30 a.m.

Toddler Time: 18 to 35 months. Highly interactive 30-minute program for children and their adult caregivers. Headquarters, Tuesdays, 10:30 a.m.; East, Mondays, 11 a.m.; South, Wednesdays, 10:30 a.m.

Preschoolers: 3-5 years. Highly interactive 30-minute program for children and their adult caregivers. Headquarters, Thursdays, 10:30 a.m.; East, Thursdays, 10:30 a.m.; South, Mondays, 10 a.m.

Tail Waggin’ Tutors: 7 to 9 years old. Children can practice reading skills in a relaxed, dog-friendly atmosphere. Canine listeners provided by Therapy Dogs International. Headquarters, selected Tuesdays, 4 p.m. Call 704-216-8234 for details. East, selected Mondays, 3:30 p.m., Call 704-216-7842 for details.

Chapter Chats: Weekly book club for teens 14-17, primarily for participants with developmental or intellectual disabilities, though all are welcome. Mondays, 5 p.m. at East Branch, Rockwell. Contact Tammie Foster at 704-216-7842. Next meeting, Monday, Jan. 29.

Escape at the Library: RPL now has its own escape room. See if you can solve the clues and codes to get out of the room before the timer hits zero! January’s escape room is “Back to the Future: Save the Clock Tower!” February’s escape room is Escape the DEATH STAR, a “Star Wars” escape room. Headquarters: Feb. 20, 4:30 p.m.; East, Jan. 29, Feb. 19, 6:30 p.m.; South, Feb. 21, 6 p.m.

Give Back Saturdays: Help us give back to the community through various crafts and projects, which we’ll donate to local charities. Teens can count participation to meet community service requirements for school or other organizations. Headquarters, Feb. 10, 11 a.m.

Chocolate Festival: Celebrate Valentine’s Day and all things chocolate with games, trivia and a chocolate fountain. Headquarters, Feb. 13, 4:30 p.m.; East, Feb. 12, 6:30 p.m.; South, Feb. 14, 6 p.m.

Teen Board: Want to be part of a Teen Advisory Board and make decisions about upcoming teen library programs? Or just want to play some board games? Now you can do both. Headquarters, Jan. 30, 4:30 p.m.

Downton Beats, Rowan’s Impromptu Chorus: Jan. 29, 6 p.m., headquarters. Everyone is welcome. This community sing requires no experience and no commitment. No charge or prior registration is required. Arrive at 6 p.m. for a short practice of two pre-selected songs. The sing will culminate with a final, videoed performance. Questions? Contact Abigail at Abigail.Hardison@rowancountync.gov or at 704-216-8248.

Book Bites Book Club: Jan. 30, 6 p.m., South. Free, open to the public. Do you enjoy good books, fun fellowship and tasty food? If so, join this free book club where we discuss a different book each month and serve refreshments loosely related to the theme. “The Things They Carried.” Need more information? Call 704-216-7731.

Lawyers at the Library:  Headquarters, Feb. 5, 6-7:30 p.m. Do you or someone you know have legal questions or concerns? Local attorneys will offer free consultations and information on the topics of wills and estates, divorces and custody, criminal and expungement questions, creditor and landlord issues, as well as SSI and disability questions. This is an information service only. No attorney-client relationship is being created with this free service. Space is limited. To register, contact Abigail at 704-216-8248 or Abigail.Hardison@rowancountync.gov.

Displays: Headquarters, student art from West Rowan High School art classes and Salisbury Symphony exhibit. East, wooden and ceramic bird figurines by Lois Foster; South, student art from South Rowan High School art classes.

Literacy: Call the Rowan County Literacy Council at 704-216-8266 for more information on teaching or receiving literacy tutoring for English speakers or for those for whom English is a second language.

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