Whether You Plan to Travel Near or Far a Trip to the Library Is Essential

Written by Lisa Mauch, Content Specialist, Downtown Main Library

While planning their next vacations, most people start mentally packing their suitcase. Do I have enough sunscreen? How many shirts will I need? Sneakers or sandals? Do I need a new swimsuit? What book should I bring?

But, of course, there are always things we forget. If we’re lucky, we can purchase an inexpensive replacement toothbrush or shampoo. And while the Library can’t help you with packing your suitcase, there are some tangible and intangible items it can provide to make your trip go smoother.

Do You Need a Passport?

When I was preparing for a trip of a lifetime to Egypt a couple of years ago, the first to-do item on my list was getting a new passport. Luckily, the Library’s passport service was quick, easy, and convenient. This is a great service regardless if you’re replacing a lost passport (guilty), renewing an expired one, or applying for one for the first time. This should be the No. 1 item on your checklist so you leave plenty of time for it, and whatever visas you might need, to be processed.

Currently, the Library has five locations where you can make an appointment to get a passport. Appointments are required and take around 30 minutes per person. For a list of necessary documents to bring and additional passport services information, go to the Library's passport page.

Do You Need a Destination?

Once you’ve picked the place or places you’d like to visit, it is always nice to learn more about them before getting there. Or maybe you’re having trouble deciding on where to go. There are so many interesting places in our country and around the world. How do you narrow it down?

One fun way is to use your Library card to access Kanopy, where you can stream free documentaries, foreign films, and educational videos about all the fascinating places you can visit. My favorite, naturally, is the series about Ancient Egypt. If pyramids and pharaohs aren’t your cup of hibiscus tea, you can choose from a wide variety of videos to stream.

Have you always wanted to take a trip by train? Try out Railway SleepersTravelling by Train Through Thailand. Worried about traveling as a family? See how a mother and son got along through three continents with World SchoolThe Journey of a Mother and Son Traveling the World.

Don’t have any plans to hit the road or the airways? Become an armchair traveler. Fans of the American West can watch the nine-episode Great Courses series. Go on a virtual tour of Ancient Greece with Secrets of Archaeology. Or follow in the footsteps of Marco Polo and go to the "Roof of the World," the Himalayas and Karakoram mountains of Central Asia, with Search For ParadiseTraveling Ancient Cities.

Do You Need a New Language?

Did someone say learning a new language? No one expects you to become proficient in a new language before your trip but it’s beneficial to learn a few words and phrases if you can. I used shukran and la, shukrun, the Egyptian Arabic words for “thank you” and “no, thank you,” to great effect with hotel staff and local vendors.

Use your Library card to access lessons from Transplant Language Online. It offers lessons in more than 100 languages with a personalized learning system. Make it a family project by using Kidspeak, a fun, age-appropriate online language course designed for children ages 6 and up. Accessible through Transparent Language Online, KidSpeak introduces your children to English, Spanish, French, Italian, and Mandarin Chinese.

Do You Need a Guidebook?

I’ve started using National Geographic’s Traveler series of guidebooks. They focus on the history, culture, and food of various countries or regions. There are beautiful photographs, a language section, and easily digestible maps of popular sites. Even though I relied on my guide, Hassan, for most of my questions, it was handy having my book to refer back to for its timeline of all the Egyptian dynasties and descriptions of local dishes.

The Library has a large collection of various types of guidebooks, covering everything from families to solo travelers, foodies to vegans.

Do You Need a COVID Test or Vaccine?

If you’re traveling outside the continental U.S., there may be regulations in place requiring proof of vaccination and/or a negative COVID-19 test. The Library is partnering with community organizations to offer free test kits and free vaccinations. Learn more at the Library’s Vaccine Information page. You also can check out Fodor's Guide to Safe and Healthy Travel: Practical Tips and Information for the Age of COVID-19 and Other Pandemics.

Bringing a Library book on a trip? Snap a photo with the book and tag us on social media @cincylibrary.