Why researching is the key to traveling well

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Why researching is the key to traveling well

It has been almost three years since I came to Copenhagen with one suitcase to try and settle down here and create a life with a steady 9 to 5 job, a rented apartment in Amager, six weeks of vacation every year and beers on a Thursday evening. I know it doesn’t work like that: first of all, no one dreams about living in Amager in Copenhagen, that’s just not the place to do it. To tell you the truth I didn’t even know what Amager was when I arrived. I didn’t even know Amager is not AMAGER, but – AMA’A. And this, and I cannot stress this enough, is the key to any successful travel experience. Research is all.

Island Brygge, in Amager Island (pictures by María Arlandis)

Traveling to a new place is hectic and spontaneous and this why it is so fun. You see new things, make decisions on the spot and improve the neuroplasticity of your brain. But there should be a structure in place. Unpleasant surprises exist like checking into a hotel only to find out it’s a hostel (Urban House Copenhagen, I’m pointing at you and your former 3 star hotel building).

By researching your route beforehand you keep all the excitement and eliminate the weird shit that happens on the way and forms your impression about a particular place. True story.

Arranging all the formalities, like visas and plane tickets, is one thing. Making sure you know how to get from the airport to the hostel by walking, using Google maps, is another. Once you are actually on the ground, you have a weird feeling like you know the place but not really, so you want to explore it some more. Looking up currency exchange rates might very well be the second most important thing after researching potential places to stay.


Once upon a time I had to travel to Azerbaijan. I was smart enough that time to look up the exchange rate and find out that 1 manat was equal to 1 euro. Once the information was in place it made me think twice about buying that super cheap bottle of whisky at the airport. This is a true story as well, someone actually bought that bottle because he ignored rule number one of all travelers: research the hell out of your destination. This is a trivial example, but in the end our life is a series of trivial things happening in a random (insert discussion about how randomness is a very orderly thing) order. It is these occurrences that we tell stories about on cold nights when we meet our friends for a cup of coffee after finishing particularly difficult IT projects. This, by the way, is not a true story, this is just a hypothetical scenario that very well might take place somewhere in Siberia.

Research helps us create a better timeline for those cold evenings’ stories. And storytelling is often how we make sense of our life. Once I ended up in Vienna for one day. I didn’t do my research and proceeded to walk in circles in the center of the city, from time to time stumbling upon the famous coffee houses for cake(s) and coffee, until I walked into a bookstore and bought a travel guide. Then Vienna turned into a magical place with endless stories from history and culture. I did so much in one day. Imagine if I did my research in advance. But now I have an excuse to come back to Vienna. Not that I need one to travel there again. After all to travel is to live.

Tatiana Shutova

Professionally trained to analyze political trends in the world, I find politics both captivating and over the top sometimes. I travel in attempts to shake off my fatalistic worldview. Three years ago I moved to Denmark as a result of poor research. Occasionally write about my experiences. I have yet to plan my dream trip.