Essential travel research for savvy travellers
A smooth trip starts with some essential travel research. You need to know what weather you can expect. It will affect the clothes that you pack and the activities that you do. As soon as we have our trip outline worked out (or sometimes while doing it) we develop a table that lists the temperature min and max, the monthly rainfall and the number of rain days for the month that we will be there.
Finding this information is pretty easy.
Start with Wikipedia and search for a city. There is usually a comprehensive table of monthly averages under a heading called “climate”.
If Wikipedia lets you down or doesn’t have all four statistics then two good sites are
The next useful item of travel research is sunrise and sunset times.
I always go to
Make sure that you choose the correct month and year then you can get the exact times down to the minute.
Now you know what sort of clothes you will need and whether you will be still strolling the sites at 8pm or if you need to plan to finish touring by 4pm before it gets dark.
There are three remaining pieces of data for our travel research – and you get them all directly from Google: Population, Currency and Language and Time Zone
Try it! Go to Google and type “Population Berlin”. You’ll even get a graph.
Type “Currency Germany” and back comes “Euro”.
Type “Language Switzerland” and take your pick!
Finally, type “Time Zone Copenhagen”
The reason for currency and language are pretty obvious but what about population?
Quite simply it gives you a sense of how difficult it may be to get around. If a city has a population of 100,000 then you can often plan to stay in the centre and walk to many places of interest. However, if it is a city of millions then you should probably plan to use the train system. This means that being next to a station with lots of interchanges is a high consideration for hotel selection.
Armed with the time zone data we calculate the time difference from home. It helps us work out when a good time to Face Time or Skype with the family back home and helps prevent them from texting or ringing us in the middle of the night!
Photo: The approach to Stockholm by sea