The destination has been chosen, the airfare has been booked, and a rough itinerary has been set. Dream trip, here you come!
Now, the hard part: trying to decide how to spend those precious hours of your holiday. You want to get the full experience on your trip, without falling into the typical tourist traps. But how can you live like a local without actually being a local?
Put down the travel brochures, and start thinking outside the box. Here are seven ideas that will help you get started in planning the most meaningful and memorable trip of your life.
Phone a Friend
Know anyone who has previously visited your destination? Give them a call and pick their brain on any suggestions they might have for your own holiday. They can provide insight on what was worth it, what was overrated, or any secret spots they might have stumbled across on their journey. Or better yet…
Ask a Local
Locals know all the best spots around town, from the hole-in-the-wall café that serves up the best cappuccino to the unreal pizza joint out in the middle of nowhere. Of course, finding a local to divulge their secrets is easier said than done. Post a shout-out on your social media, asking if any of your contacts happens to know anyone who lives in your destination town. A friend-of-a-friend might be willing to spill a few pearls of wisdom.
Hit the Boards
Message boards on websites can allow you to listen in on, or participate in, conversations about your travel destination. Locals, past visitors and future travelers often swap opinions and ideas about activities. Peruse a few different websites to find one that caters to people with similar interests as you, and see what they have to recommend.
Go In Without a Plan
Too much planning can eliminate those spontaneous moments that can be the highlight of a trip. Leave yourself plenty of time to wander, and stay as flexible as you can. Once you arrive at your destination, listen to your bartender’s advice, and be willing to change your plans to accommodate unexpected recommendations from other travelers you encounter.
There’s an App for That
Several apps exist to help you make the most out of your trip: for instance, Wanderfly can recommend travel destinations based on your departure location and your interests. Wikihood can give you the scoop on a local neighborhood, telling you about attractions and events you might not have even known existed.
Research Tourist Attractions
Not all cliché attractions are rip-offs—many of them are world-famous for a reason. Don’t write off tourist attractions without digging a little deeper. A little research will provide insight on whether or not the big attractions are worth checking out.
Do Your Homework
Research your destination before you head off on your trip. Get a sense of the history of the place, learn about meaningful locations across town, and look up the schedules of important events or festivals that celebrate the local culture. Plan activities that let you explore these places and activities firsthand, to fully immerse yourself in the unique elements of your destination.