You decide to buy your next photo trip, now what? How can you be ready to take the best possible shots of a place you never been before?
I can say google it, it might be the very obvious answer to this question but there are a few set of this I do to make sure I'm prepared. I like to create a new map on google maps for my new trip, If I stay in one place I will mark the place down and look at a ratio of around 100km from the location I'm staying, that also depends on how many days I'm staying, after that I look at bigger names in google maps and I copy paste the name and go to 500px and check if there are good photos of the place, I also check Flikr, Deviantart and google images, if I find a specific place I try to pin point in the map where is the place and sometimes the same spot, not all the time you will be able to pinpoint the location just by the name, so I do next is contacting the person that took the photo, usually a friendly message can go a long way, I often ask if they are local and if they are I ask if they recommend some other places or if they want to join me in some shooting, nothing like a local to show you the best around.
After I get all my locations pinpointed in the map I will decide which places are key for me to shoot, what locations I want to shoot the most and which ones I don't mind leaving it for next time, I do a daily plan that I don't always follow but I like to be organized so I know where I will be at sunrise and at sunset, I always adjust my trips as I see fit but I like to have a good idea of where to go. Once I'm on location I take the time between sunrise and sunset to scout the place to make sure I find the place I want to shoot at sunset and return, later on, another thing I do is to use Photopills app on my phone at home so I know where the sun will rise and set and where the milky way is. Depending on the type of trip I also use the Aurora notifier to make sure I'm not losing any action at night. There are good apps for your phone that you can use for different type of tips, make sure you know how to use them before you go out on that expensive trip.
After knowing my type of landscape I will decide on the type of gear I will take, shall I take the F4 lens instead of the F2.8 if there is a lot of hiking involved shall I take prime/macro lenses, a good practice of mine is to take 3 lenses that cover the range from super wide to telephoto, that works for me for 99% of the time, there is the odd time I wish I had the lens I left at home but with this type of approach I'm almost all settle.
So this is my way of preparing for my trips, with this method I rarely have a day where I don't know where to go shoot or at least scout. I try to use all the time I can even if I have to go in the middle of the night to prepare for the next sunrise.
What practices do you use before you travel? Let me know in the comments below, maybe I will learn some new tips.