I also just finished reading a book about a girl who travels to China in the second half of the story, and I really enjoyed it. Which made me realize that I always love books about exotic places, places I'd like to go. But I also love stories that take place at home, in a 'normal' location.
I've always had an idea for a sequel to PLAN B where Vanessa and Reed head to Europe for the summer where he's filming a movie. Thing is, even though I've been to Europe a few times, to really write about it well I think I'd need to spend a lot of time there. When I wrote LOCAL GIRLS and RICH BOYS I spent a ton of time on Martha's Vineyard with a notebook and pencil taking notes. I think it's so important to get the details right. I seriously doubt research via the Internet could substitute for the sounds and colors of being there in person to actually feel what it's like.
One of the emails I received recently from a girl in Europe asked in Martha's Vineyard was a real place. That made me even more concerned that I get the surroundings right in my books. If someone is experiencing a place for the first time through my book, I sure want them to feel like they're right there!
What about you? If you write, do you have to experience it yourself to get it right? Or can you imagine what it's like? Do you like reading about places you haven't been to? If you've been somewhere and read about it, have you ever been disappointed when an author got it totally wrong?