I have a basic template in my preparations before I leave...because, once the plane's wheels hit the tarmac or I park my car, there are non-stop days.
1) Create a custom Google Map
2) Research any well-known or preferably lesser-known landmarks or history institutions or people indiginous to the area.
3) Research and local food favorites and locations. On my upcoming trip to Kauai, my most fav food is a classic food truck "plate lunch brah". Typically some mahi mahi, white sticky rice and kimchee.
4) Research if their are any noteworthy events happening.
5) Research any local shopping "things" worth buying locally. Living on Oahu for many years, finding and wearing your fav Reyn Spooner hawaiian shirt was mandatory.
6) Sometimes I will research food or restaurants ahead of time but I like that to be more spontaneous. I like the waft of some freshed grilled food or some hawt chica guide the way...LOL
7) And with my everyday occurence, mentally come up with a pretty solid shot list and sometimes I actually compose that and save it to my phone.
So, for my upcoming trip to Kauai, I thought this was perfect prep!
Also, when I am traveling to shoot surfing, and, even though I am not really looking to sell the images, people always ask. So, I have a Vegas Surf portal and I just created some new fun stickers to give away if anyone asks. EVERYONE LOVES STICKERS. LOL Not that you would care, but the stickers have a metallic sheen so the sticker belows looks badazz in person.