The way I travel has changed over time. I’m older and wiser with over 10 years’ globetrotting experience. Actually my first ever overseas travel experience and most recent getaway are both SO different. I got my passport in 2006 when I was 21 for a Contiki tour with one of my best mates around North America for 3 weeks. She did all the research and bookings. All I had to do was decide that I’d join her, pay the cash monies and get myself to where I needed to be on Day 1. The rest was done for us! My most recent trip was to Cinque Terre in Italy with my fiancé and we did our own research and bookings including what to see and do, where to eat and drink and where to stay.
As a 30 something traveller with a job to work around, it’s important to make the most of our travels. We try to strike a balance between seeing and doing what we want and actually having a holiday and relaxing. The question is HOW to actually go about finding things to see and do. Here are some tips that work for us on how to plan your travel activities:
1. Google search the destination
Yep, it’s as simple as typing the destination into Google. We generally click on ‘images’ and have a look through them first to get some serious wanderlust for the destination. Once you’re really excited and maybe even seen a few images you want to research further, type in ‘things to do in Barcelona’ for example and start taking notes of what catches your eye. We always read the reviews and comments for insider tips on whether the attractions and activities and worth seeing and doing.
2. Ask friends and fellow travellers for advice
As regular travellers our friends and colleagues often ask us “so where are you going next?” That generally leads to listing out all of our upcoming destinations for which at least one of them they’ve been to and can offer tips and advice.
I sometimes even put a call out on social media like Facebook and Twitter for tips. It usually goes something like: ‘Next stop: Cinque Terre! Tips welcome!’ From all the tips you’ve been given, you can check them out in more detail and decide what suits your travel style and budget and start making your own list.
3. Blogs and vlogs
There are so many travel bloggers out there these days, the research has already been done for you. All you need to do is find it and adapt it to suit you. Go to YouTube and type in the name of your destination along with the word ‘vlog’ or ‘video highlights’. Click on a couple that catch your attention. You might even find a few favourite travel vloggers that you subscribe to and check out ALL their destinations. Watching a travel video gives you a feel for the place and what you might like to do there. They also often have links back to their travel blog or diary for more details about the best way to get there, itinerary, accommodation choice and general tips.
4. Apps & TV shows
Recently I’ve been filming questions and answers as a panelist on an online show called KwickTrip. There are so many apps and TV shows out there where you can learn from your favourite celebrities and experts about your bucket list destinations. One of my favourites is Travel Man with Richard Ayoade. He’s a comedian that enlists the help of another comedian to showcase a destination over 48 hours. That way it doesn’t even feel like research!
5. Seek out local tips on the ground
Your research doesn’t stop once you’re at your destination. In fact, that’s the best time to ask locals what they would recommend seeing and doing. You could ask upon your arrival at your accommodation or at a restaurant or bar. If you’re brave enough you could even just ask a friendly local that’s out and about.
We’ve found that by doing a walking tour soon after arriving, you get your bearings much more quickly and the inside scoop on great places to eat especially. You can ask questions throughout the tour and privately afterwards and we’ve taken the opportunity every time. Our most common question seems to be where the local supermarket is to pick up some wine and cheese for a picnic on our balcony or at a recommended spot with a view!
I hope that helps give you some inspiration on how to discover things to see and do on your next adventure. And don’t feel like you absolutely have to plan everything before your trip. Sometimes we don’t have ANYTHING organised until we get there which can be a blessing in disguise. That way you have time to stumble across sights and activities you wouldn’t have found if you were racing around trying to fulfil your travel plan!