Why you should make your trip your own. 3 things to consider helping along your research before you leave, and the good and bad results from each method:
1. Family and Friends:
I haven’t even left yet, but I have found everyone to be very enthusiastic about destinations that they had been to on their own. I have had a chance to hear personal stories, and I have gotten my fair share of photos from their own trips. I found that friends and family have been good for reaffirming the choices I have made for the fall, but I haven’t completely changed my mind on any destination because of that.
For example, I am going to Europe in the fall, and my flight lands in Frankfurt at the end of September. If I wanted to, I could easily shoot down to Munich and attend Oktoberfest, but I don’t want to (for various reasons). When I told my cousin I wouldn’t be going and that I would rather go straight to Italy, he lost it. he didn’t understand how I could skip out on a tradition that we had been shown since we were taking German in elementary. I would much rather get a decent month of weather in Italy, than surrounding myself in a city packed to the max.
Blogs are a great way to get detailed information/stories about destinations you want to go to. Even the reader on WordPress is great for following certain destinations. Blogs have probably been the primary factor in helping me decide where to go, eat, and sleep. For example, if I think of anew place I might want to go, I’ll typically type in “why I love _______(destination)” or something along those lines. Google then presents me with positive blogs on the places I want to go. I can deal with the bad, but I want to know what makes each destination great.
I haven’t had any bad experiences reading a blog. Sometimes, I find them hard to find in general. Once I got better at using keywords in my search and went past the first page on Google, I was presented with lots of blogs to choose from. WordPress, Facebook, and Twitter are all great places to find great full-time travel bloggers!
Travel forums on sites like Lonely Planet, Rick Steve’s, and other sites like Reddit are all great places that are full of both professional and other travel support. Simply post a question or itinerary to the forums and someone will most likely have the first reply to you within an hour. I was happy with the speed in which varying information and opinions were relayed to me.
I think forums are great for people that aren’t willing/able to spend time finding information themselves. However, after completing two simple questions, I found myself bombarded with conflicting views and people that were trying to get me to avoid certain places. Because it was so frustrating, I ended up deleting my account on Lonely Planet. I just found that more people are obsessed with the idea of seeing as many places in as little time that they don’t care to actually explore the places they visit. I don’t think 6 hours is enough to explore Munich, thank you.
It’s your trip, and whether others like it or not, you should focus on where YOU want to go. Someone did a post on WordPress about “seeing the Cinque Terre in one day”. That just isn’t possible. I would rather get to know a place instead of a whirlwind tour where all I would have to remember it are the hundreds of pictures I took. Don’t rush yourself unless you only have a short period of time. Realize that when you stick to day trips to most places you will be stuck with large groups of tourists, and you will most likely miss out on the best each destination has to offer in the morning/evening.
Recap of sites I love:
Hostelworld: I reserves some spots at certain hostels in Portugal. I love the pictures shown, easy search criteria, and thousands of reviews for a lot of hostels that I was picking from!
Airbnb: Mostly to book private rooms with friendly locals in great locations. I would rather pay $45 for a room with a local in a great spot than $60 plus at any other place in a lot of Italian cities.
Skyscanner: Great to do searches for flights, especially because it includes a lot of low cost carriers.
Google: Using search tool to find blogs
Nomadic Matt: Lots of brief guides and lots of blog posts with a great personal touch
Twitter and WordPress are great ways to find non-commercialized destination blogs. I highly suggest signing up for WordPress, even if you do not write anything! WordPress is incredibly easy to use.
Next Post: The moment I truly became a fan on football, and why it is relevant to this blog :p