Some people can spontaneously travel to a new destination without doing any prior research.
But, as anyone with any contact with me whatsoever can attest, I am not one of them.
Of course, spontaneity is an important quality for fun, lighthearted travels, but a little planning can never hurt. Or at least, I like to think so. There´s just something exciting about arriving to a new city with a roughly sketched itinerary of the best sights, restaurants and a few insider tips to make the most of your journeys.
That being said, researching an entire destination can feel a little overwhelming at first. However, when broken up into a few simple steps you can get a good overview of the main attractions.
So without further ado, here´s a helpful little guide to structuring your travel research:
1) Ask People You Know
Between friends, family, coworkers, and students you probably know someone with a few helpful hints about your next stop on the map. Often, people who´ve spent a little time in your desired destination have great tips on hole-in-the-wall restaurants and lesser known sights. If you´re short on time, they will often be able to give a good indication of what is a must and what can be missed. Budget travellers will be sure to find some sneaky tips from students.
2) Check Pinterest Travel Boards
Oh, Pinterest. This site is a gold mine for sharing some of the most tempting travel pictures. A quick search of your next destination will give you a simple visual of all the most popular attractions. You will also find helpful list posts on here to check out for some extra tips.
3) Scope Out Trip Advisor
Once you´ve picked a few spots you´d like to see, it´s best to scope out some traveller reviews. Of course, almost every place will have a bad review so take it with a grain of salt, but make sure to have a quick skim of these reviews to see if there´s any common complaints. Here you can also look for more inspiration of things to do based on popularity and traveller ratings.
4) Blog Investigation
Blogs, blogs, blogs. There are so many blogs dedicated specifically to sharing travel tips (this one included). Reading a few blogger experiences of different spots will help with gleaning a bit of inside info on what you should expect.
5) Search Engines For Specifics
Curious about the weather forecast during your planned stay? Want to know sunrise and set times to snap some beautiful pics? Looking for ticket prices, opening times, or maps? Google it.
6) Youtube (With Caution)
This is one of the more advanced planning tips for all you control freaks and perfectionists out there like me. Youtube has so many fantastic vlogs and tours of all sorts of attractions and expeditions that will be sure to answer any lingering questions as you can literally live the experience vicariously. Of course, it can demystify and dull the excitement of seeing things for the first time so use this tip sparsely.
Following these 6 steps should make for manageable travel research. What resources do you find helpful for planning a trip?