- Narrow the scope of your research. Try to focus on just one person or family. Keep a list of what information you already have and what information you're trying to obtain.
- Try to create an outline of your research goals. Decide what facts you would like to check and what records you may be looking for.
- Familiarize yourself with the region you will be visiting. Research local libraries, historical societies, courthouses, archives, churches and colleges. Try to find out what records may be available at each location you hope to visit.
- Contact the centers where you plan to do research. Verify their hours, location, and the scope of their collections. Learn about each facility's research policies. Will you have access to original documents or digitized copies? Can you bring in your own research notebooks and laptop? What are their policies on photocopying materials?
- Search the library or archive's online catalog and make a list of items you may want to look at. Focus on items that are unique to the area: manuscripts, family histories, local histories, photographs, local newspapers, church records, etc.
- Map out your locations and create your travel itinerary.
- Before you go, double-check that your home library does not already have access to some of the materials you may be searching for.
These are just the basics. Here's a great 20 minute discussion presented by the Midwest Genealogy Center and FamilySearch about preparing for your trip.