Traveling Right – Do You Read Before, During or After

By Jan Jackson –

The House of Seven Gables, Salem Massachusetts.

To read or not to read about your vacation destination is not the question. The question is whether you read, before during or after you are there. I evidently do my reading after I’ve been there. In the case of the House of Seven Gables, 46-years after.

There are at least a dozen types of travelers in the world and after fifty years in the travel business, I’ve come in contact with most of them. I wish I had thought to ask them about their travel-reading habits.

Some need to know what there is for them is to see before they go and some like to discover what is there while they are there. I used to do slide presentations to promote tours. I had a lady sign up for a tour to the Canadian Rockies, and when I invited her to the pre-tour presentation, she said, “I only need to see it once – either in pictures or in person.” I suggested she not attend the presentation and treat herself to the tour.

Autographed copy from 1974 tour.

So, I’ve read a lot about travel writing, but nothing about travel reading. I do remember the thrill of going to Concord Massachusetts where Henry David Thoreau wrote my favorite book about Walden Pond, but I also didn’t even know about the leper colony on Malakai Hawaii until I saw so many books on it in aMaui bookstore. However, I also bought a copy of James Michener’s “Chesapeake” to read during one of my tours in Chesapeake Bay country. It’s reading before you go, while you are there or after you get home that remains the question.

Back to my paperback copy of “The House of Seven Gables,” by Nathaniel Hawthorne. It was an emotional experience for me to stumble on the book after touring the house so many times. It was dated May 3, 1974, it had nine colored postcards of the house tucked within the pages and it was signed by the people who were on the tour. Most of those people have passed away and seeing their signatures and their little personal notes gave me pause.

I think reading before I go for me, is more like research, reading during my trip is part of my experience and reading afterwards is getting to take my trip twice. That fits the type of traveler I am, but the important thing is does it fit you?

Happy Traveling.


More information on The House of Seven Gables available at:

Tour of the House of Seven Gables

The House of the Seven Gables

History Meets Fiction

Jan Jackson is a retired tour operator who is currently writing a book about Traveling Right; How to Make Your Vacation Work for You (see About).












History Meets Fiction


the House of the Seven Gables


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