Twitter is my new guide!
When I first started travelling it was not at all daunting. Travel was accompanied by parents, teachers and other adult supervisors. At 15 I vowed to travel every year for the rest of my life. That didn't quite happen.
It was some years on, before I first ventured overseas. I was up for it! My first expedition was to Scotland, safe with a common language and similar cultural background. I read every book I could. Bought each of the travel guides on the bookstore shelf. (I had not yet discovered travel narratives.) I searched the 'net relentlessly and bravely booked from Australia just my first night of accommodation.
We prepared by watching Billy Connelly's World Tour of Scotland. In fact, it drafted a guideline route to be taken by hire car. The 'video' was played over and over again. So excited was I when in (the former royal burgh of) Arbroath that I told the 'Smokey House' that I had travelled especially to see them after watching their (artisan) smoked haddock on Billy Connelly. I told them that I had worked, smoking salmon in Australia. They refused to take my money. http://www.arbroath-smokie.co.uk/catalog/smokie.php I have never eaten better than watching the ocean, while eating my smokie, in the blistering gale of sea spray of that day.
The travel continued with as-you-go, on-paper, Scottish Tourist Board B&B recommendations. I phone ahead for each following day.
More travel guides were purchased. More countries were travelled. I travelled with the DK series as my companion and guide. Then somewhere in the midst I was enlightened by the travel narrative. Mostly the books that entranced me were stories of Paris and of France. I'd already discovered some of France through cooking at home, through recipes, through being delighted by Elizabeth David. My favourites were those stories related by Australians. I related to the foundation of their cultural understanding.
Most recently I've embraced Twitter. It's now my preferred 'net search tool and guide. Twitter has also become my travel guide.
My 'community' of friends (followers and following) have been selected through mostly common interest: food, travel, spiritual, techie. I read the tweets of other travellers. I (use a keyword) search to find more information on my travel destinations of choice. I get current local real-time advice from people just like me on, where to go, what to do, where to stay, what to eat. I read what's already written and I seek advice from people with similar tastes. On Twitter I'm learning every day too about new techie tools that will help me in planning and travelling. Currently, one brave traveller is on a 30 day journey across Europe sponsored exclusively by the recommendations and assistance of others on Twitter. And, I'm just about to explore a new travel map tool that I found on Twitter while I was (multi-tasking) writing this.