We’ve all had fantasies about taking an exotic vacation that’s off the beaten path. Visiting a place you know nothing about sounds exciting but there is also a lot that can go wrong. Without having a solid understanding of the location, your entire trip could turn into a disaster. From packing the wrong clothing to missing out on the main attractions, or even getting scammed, the consequences of not doing your homework could be catastrophic. Thankfully, there are plenty of resources out there to help you plan a smooth trip to a place you know nothing about. Whether you prefer guide books, blogs, or Facebook friends, there are several ways to gather useful information about a destination you’re not familiar with. Knowledge is power and the more you know, the more likely you are to have a successful trip. We’ve gone ahead and compiled some tips to ensure you have all the help you need to satisfy your wanderlust and plan the trip of a lifetime.
Guidebooks are a great start. While some of the information may be out-of-date, guidebooks can provide a solid foundation for learning about a new destination. They offer an overview of what to expect and what you absolutely must see/do. In the early planning phases, guidebooks will prove to be especially helpful to provide you with some direction as to how you should treat your planning process.
Are there certain parts of the trip that will require more research than others? Are some areas extremely straightforward that will require little planning at all? Knowing which guidebook to chose is a process in and of itself. This article provides some tips and tricks for choosing a guide that’s right for you. According to Rick Steves, the publication date is usually the deciding factor (for him) when choosing between guidebooks. Most guidebooks specialize in a subject so make sure to choose wisely based on what you are most interested in. If culture and history are your priority, you probably wouldn’t want to purchase a guide dedicated to restaurants and the best eats. Once you have a solid understanding of the destination you are visiting, you can focus on the details of planning a successful trip.
Blogs are a fantastic resource to help you fill in those missing pieces. They typically offer more updated information and you have much easier access to the author. You can ask them specific questions and get a more personal recommendation for your upcoming trip. With so many blogs out there, how do you ensure you’re relying on a relevant and legitimate one? Based on pure website traffic in Q2 of 2017, One Mile at a Time and Nomadic Matt are the most visited travel blogs. With such a huge fan base, these blogs are sure to offer up useful and interesting information.
If you’re itching for a mix of unique point-of-views, this article features 24 of the best travel blogs and websites out there. These are excellent sources for gathering some general travel information but it may not be specific to the destination you plan on visiting. TripAdvisor’s Travel Forum is a great tool to find out details on a place that may be a bit more obscure. You can search all forums by keyword and the results will return any mention of that phrase in a post. For example, if you type in “Rangiroa” (an atoll in French Polynesia), TripAdvisor returns 137 pages of results. This is a wonderful way to find out the 411 on lesser known places from real travelers.
Speaking of real travelers, the travel community is an excellent resource to get actual insight on a particular destination. Who better to get guidance from than someone who has actually been to the destination themselves? While guidebooks and blogs can be extremely helpful, sometimes you just need to engage in a real conversation with someone who can address your specific concerns. Facebook recently launched a “recommendations” feature so you can ask your network for advice on certain locations or activities. Your friends can comment on your post with suggestions, and you’ll see all of them mapped out and saved in one place. What’s more powerful than a friend that you know and trust offering up some good ole fashion advice?
Trippy takes it a step further and lets you ask questions to an extended network of experts. How does it work? All you have to do is ask a travel question. Members of the community weigh in and offer their feedback. The most “liked” answers float to the top to ensure you are viewing relevant responses that have been endorsed by your peers. When planning a trip to a place you know nothing about, there are a lot of unknowns. The more tips, tricks, and guidance you can receive, the better off you will be.
With all of the materials out there, there’s no excuse for “lazy planning,” especially when you’re visiting a place you know little about. Research is critical to ensure you know what to expect on your upcoming trip and how to prepare accordingly. By reading guidebooks, exploring blogs, and crowd-sourcing your peers, you’ll be in great shape to execute a successful trip. Planning a trip to a place you’re not familiar with can be very intimidating but there’s no reason to sweat. As long as you take the planning process seriously, you’ll be in perfect position to have a smooth and memorable journey.