No one wants to go to a new destination and miss the best—but perhaps little known—attraction of the location. Similarly, no one wants to make an easily avoidable mistake when traveling to a destination that he or she is unfamiliar with. Or to get to a new place, only to learn that the coveted activity they wanted to partake in is sold out or has to be booked in advance. That’s why travelers research and plan before we embark on our trips. But what are the best places to get advice on the must-do activities or the must-see architecture? Here are five top resources for travel advice.
Ask the Locals
This is the number one best source of recommendations. When I travel, I always try to get tips and ideas from people who live or have actually lived in the area. They know the pulse of the city/country, and can offer great insights, especially for foodie recommendations. The hole-in-the-wall places that you may never think to visit on your own are often the best spots for local food and flair, but you will only know that if you are able to tap into the local scene. I have found that the best travel is the local experience, as it allows you to really see the city or country you are visiting. Everyone lives differently, and the best way to experience a place for what it is, and to learn how people around the world are different (but also very much the same) is to get the local experience.
I love consulting guidebooks on various places. One great place to get guidebooks or maps on U.S. destinations is AAA if you have a membership. Frommer’s and Fodors are great starting points for guidebooks, along with one of my favorites, Lonely Planet. These guides are also sometimes available on the app or as a downloadable guide online. Going to Europe? Rick Steves is the Europe Guru with his various “Rick Steves Europe” guides. And my buddy Roni the Travel Guru has also put out her own Paris Travel Guide, having lived in the city for a while.
Check out these guides in hard copy, via app, or e-book. Also, many of these sites have online forums that offer tips and users can answer each other’s travel questions. Added tip: Rather than buying all of these books, head to your local library and check them out. Then either purchase or renew the most helpful ones again so you are well prepared for your trip.
TripAdvisor and Other Online Recommendations Site
TripAdvisor is a great resource for reviews and rankings of accommodations, tours, etc. Users not only give reviews, but also include pertinent information about themselves, like where they are from, their age, and whether they went on the trip for business, solo, as a couple, with a family, etc. This allows you to be able to identify with the reviewer to see if they have similar interests and circumstances as you will when traveling.
For hotels, when I search using Trivago, I also like their review system for looking at hotels. It aggregates from numerous sites on the web and it allows a second source for reviews, not just TripAdvisor (since I do take TripAdvisor with a grain of salt because sometimes they have falsified reviews).
Believe it or not, we travel bloggers are here to help you. We love nothing more than when someone asks us for a personal recommendation on a place we have visited. So engage with us. Comment on our blog posts; reach out on our Facebook pages. We love to interact with our readers, and I promise we (well, most of us) don’t bite. We are here to help. (That’s why every Thursday I post travel tips and tricks—to help you guys from my own experiences.)
Friends or Colleagues You Trust
This is perhaps your best source of information, hands down. If you have a friend or colleague or co-worker who has visited a place, tap into their wealth of information. You know this person. You know their likes and dislikes, and if you are close friends with the person, it is likely that you share some or many of those same likes and dislikes. The key: It needs to be someone you trust. What makes this resource so powerful is that it is someone you know and who has your best interest at heart. Even a friend of a friend can be a great resource, because the friend asks as your vetting source on the referral. Real, first-hand experiences can often trump what you read on the web. But sometimes you will have to take one-off situations with a grain of salt, especially if no one else seems to have had a similar experience.
Sound off? What are some of your favorite sources for trusted travel recommendations?
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