Following on from my Spring Cleaning post a few days ago, another thing that I like to do is to make sure I understand where I am going, waht might be around, when is the bets time to go etc.
Now you can be really lazy, as I have many others do on forums and ask where to go and find out from others hard work or you can pay somebody to take you there and do everything for you except press the shutter button.
However, there is so much that you can do for yourself ahead of your trip to get yourself armed with all the knowledge you need by your own leg work.
Firstly maps. Get good quality maps and here in the UK, we are blessed with fantastic quality maps from The Ordnance Survey. I like to use the 1:25000 series which give excellent detail.
The next purchase is the from the 'Where to Watch' range of books This is a great series of books that cover much of the globe now, and here in the UK, the series is down to local and regional level, so you can get all the information you need. A quick check on Amazon UK revealed a total of 171 links
These books and maps are vital when in teh field when you are far way from the internet or broadband signal. I will keep mine n the car on trips to mull over when in tea shops considering the next part of the trip.
Online resources are massive, of course, and make an important part of the pre-planning. A simple google of the area you are going to will yield all sorts of valuable information, even if you are going to areas that you think you already know well.