||Travel is a sensitive business, one where your decisions do make a difference, from the little details on up. Your choice of destination, obviously, will influence your experience, but so will the shoes you choose to walk in, how much luggage you opt to bring, where you stay, what inoculations you get before you go, and with whom you decide to travel.
Travel is often associated with spontaneity and freedom, but there's usually some preparation and forethought necessary to get you to that carefree time. That's where Deborah Burns comes in. An accomplished, savvy traveler herself, she writes sensibly and lucidly on those little things (itineraries, visas, foreign languages, transportation, children, and budgets) that make the difference between a holiday to dream about and a nightmare vacation experience. The more preparation the better. Some visas take months to procure. The best travel deals are often available far in advance of departure. And as for those shoes, to bring comfortable, well-broken-in footwear, you can't go shopping for them a week before you leave. Covering health, business, souvenirs, safety, dining, and what to pack, Burns's most important lesson is that you don't need to learn everything the hard way. --Stephanie Gold