My husband says I'm an optimizer, trying to maximize time in order to see and do everything! My travel style is to do a lot of pre-trip planning and reading so that I get the most out of each place I visit. When I don't do that, I sometimes feel a little let down by wasted time. Yet I am open to serendipitous finds and if something comes along that's cooler than my pre-planned ideas, I am all for rearranging things on the spot!
I've always been a big destination researcher but I used to be much more cavalier about arranging places to stay but after wandering too much in Barcelona looking for a hostel (2001) and sleeping in a Brussels train station (Easter 2002), I decided that having lodging taken care of was a pretty nice thing to have settled. Also, if you notice the dates of my mild misadventures, it was essentially pre-internet with regards to online travel resources and things are much easier and so awesome with online bookings. (I was also much younger in 2001 & 2002 but let's be friends and not talk too much about that!)
Without further ado and before this page has too much text and not enough links, here are a few of my favorite sites for trip planning.
36 Hours NY Times Column Archives
My #1 ichiban go-to for trip research. Occasionally, the articles can be too-cool-for-school but most of the time, they provide a nice overview of touristy sites and new finds, especially of the restaurant and club variety.
This is a great magazine with articles that are helpful for the actual traveller, not just the armchair variety.
These articles are a little on the aspirational side and short on details but it's cool to hear about an eclectic variety of places.
The Guardian Travel Section
On the other side of the Atlantic from the NYTimes, the London Guardian has a nice travel section with excellent "48 Hours In..." articles
This magazine has great National Park/Road Trip Ideas for the entire West Coast of the US. I love it!
A great online magazine for the San Francisco Bay Area and regional surroundings (read: Tahoe). It's a really good source for upcoming events, new restaurants and suggestions for mini-trips.
Blogs I Reference
The above blogs are each written by traveller(s) who tend to have a strong Japan and/or SE Asia section, which has comprised the bulk of my recent travel preparations.