Preparing to travel I can’t emphasize the importance of research enough. Apart from the fact, that as more as you know about the place you like to visit the better your experience will be - it will enhance your photography interaction with the people and the country, town, village etc. you are going to.
I like to share some of my ideas on how to go about this research:
The first source might be some good guidebooks to get an understanding of the culture and the place you will be travelling to. Here you can find out about all the essentials in a quick and accessible manner.
But that’s not the end of the road. If possible see some films, read fictional books, travel magazines and last but not least - search the internet. Wikipedia and Wikipedia travel for instance can give you some bit of information which can prove invaluable and sometimes inspiring.
I try to look at pictures at sites like 500px, Flickr, Getty Images, and so on. That might provide you with an idea of what you can expect from your destination visually, what you essentially want to photograph and what you want to photograph different from all the others..
If you now people frome the area try to connect with them and try to ask them for practical and specific advice about the place you’re going to.
Get your timing right. As many of us are under a time constraint regarding holidays and travelling, as well travelling in a group or with family limits your time of taking photos even more. To make the most of this an effective time management is in need.
A good solution might be to plan the day around lighting conditions. Twilight, sunrise and sunset are usually the best times of the day. In harsh sun light and in between you will have enough time to wander around with your family, group etc and may be look as well for new places to photograph.
Apart from light weather is very important for your photographic decisions as well. It is quite useful to look for the normal weather conditions in the places you are going to and try to align trips so that you might have some favorable situations for some time.
If you re going to a place where you can’t speak the language you might thinking of getting a guide and translator.
All and much more considered it should be a more worthwhile experience to get some great images.