In my last blog post, I discussed the importance of preparation and planning, but don’t limit your preparation to just reading guidebooks! Use others’ real life experiences and advice to help create the trip of your dreams.
In the digital age, information is a mere click away. In ordinary daily life, when we are curious about something, often the easiest way to find an answer is to type the question into Google. While convenient, our reliance on technology often causes us to overlook the most valuable resource of all, each other. Using the experiences of others can yield amazing experiences by relying on first-hand knowledge which is more personal, and at times, more authentic than the looking online for tips and suggestions from Wikipedia or Google.
So, when planning your trip, seek out the advice of people you might know who have been to the places you are intending to go. People love talking about their travel experiences (well, generally), and you can both gain from the best experiences they had while also avoiding the things they found unenjoyable or overrated. It’s not dissimilar from certain situations in our ordinary day-to-day life. Think about it, there are certain situations when we move away from the computer or phone screen and rely on people’s first-hand knowledge. For example, looking to try a new restaurant – lots of times we rely on what friends or family have said after they have gone to a restaurant they enjoyed and follow their advice. The same word of mouth can help us in travel. This is especially the case when you know people who live in the area or know people who have visited the travel destination.
Seeking out the advice and opinions from others can have benefits extending far beyond just finding ways to bypass long lineups or ways to navigate a metro-system. Simply talking with others about their experiences also enriches our connections with others, it gives us something to talk about and connect with that individual and shows that you value their opinions. Using other people’s real life experience makes planning for travel feel less like a hassle and more enjoyable (why not meet up with someone over coffee to hear about their experiences?).
I messaged someone for advice who I knew lived in Copenhagen when I was planning a weekend trip there. Since I was in the process of exchanging Canadian dollars for foreign currencies, I asked him the practical question of whether it was worth getting Danish money for the two days I would be there. A great insider tip was that cash is hardly used in Copenhagen, with almost every possible location allowing payment by credit or debit card. His advice saved me the hassle of exchanging money (and literally saved me money, the exchange rates are crazy!) and also led to him suggesting that we meet up when I arrived which allowed me to go to more local spots rather than being restricted to the touristy areas.
Of course, don’t fret if you don’t know someone who has travelled to a place you plan on going. Getting the advice of others can be effectively achieved by using certain online resources that actually give individuals a platform to discuss their experiences while travelling (like this blog).
For example, when I was booking an Airbnb in Milan Italy, I asked our landlady if there were any particularly good restaurants close to the apartment. She suggested Pizza AM. Fast forward to when I arrived in Milan, I remembered her recommendation when I was in the trip planning stage of my travels and reviewed Pizza AM on Tripadvisor just to see what others had said about the restaurant. Well, I can safely say that when in Milan, Pizza AM is a must! Though fairly non-descript on the outside, reasonable prices (a pizza costs 7-9 euros and is the best pizza you will ever have), great freebies (flat bread and a glass of sparkling wine as soon as you enter), amazing food, a cool vibe, and, to end it off, a free shot of Italian liquer (lemoncello or crema di melon being the best two). Without seeking the experiences of my landlady when I was about to book my Airbnb, I would have missed this place which became a highlight of my trip!
I recommend a combination of, planning on your own through the use of traditional guidebooks, online and in-person first-hand accounts of individuals’ experiences, and seeking out people you know who have travelled to where you will be going. If you are going to Europe…the best advice and insider’s tips come from Rick Steves!
Here are some great sites to check out other’s experiences including recommended and not so recommend places to check out:
- Zomato (Formally known as Urbanspoon)
- Facebook groups and pages are also great places for resources!
Sometimes it can seem daunting and a burden to ask someone else where they would recommend, but honestly, people can surprise you! Real life experiences from people are even better because it’s coming from someone you know and have a better sense of things you might appreciate than a random person who posted they liked a certain place. Checking online allows you to gather other people’s experiences, but always take these opinions with a grain of salt because everyone has different perspectives and expectations. It’s relative to the person and where they are from and their preferences so don’t be discouraged if a place you were excited to eat at turned out to have bad reviews. Take it upon yourself to try something out and share your own experiences to help others while they travel – now you have become the expert!
In real life, trusting others and using the experiences of others can help in more ways than we realize. The same goes for travel. Plan accordingly, discuss freely, and don’t forget to have fun along the way.
Let me know if you have any travel experiences you want to share (i.e., any good, must try restaurants?) I love hearing about your travel experiences! Don’t forget to like, comment, and share if you found this post helpful – I post a new blog post every Sunday!
Ciao for now,