I'm talking about taking advantage of all the opportunities at your fingertips to prepare as best as possible for a trip away from home! There are so many great resources available to us now that it's pretty easy to get insider advice before you arrive at your destination.
After living in NYC for over seven years and seeing thousands of tourists roam the city looking lost and most likely not getting the full NYC experience, Woody and I are determined to get a real taste for cities we travel too. We don't want the glossy tour book memories, we want the gritty, real world memories. Of course, we buy the tour book so we know the basics, but then it's up to us to start digging.
I've really integrated these techniques into our trip planning for Raleigh and now Seattle, using social networks to find out where to go, what to do and what to see. Here's a run down on how to use social networks to their full potential to make the most out of your next trip:
Guessing you didn't think of this one - but you might know people in your professional network who live in the city you're traveling too. Especially if you're going for business, you can ask for recommendations on good restaurants for business dinners, hotels, tips for travel to/from the airport and other business oriented advice. And don't forget to set up a meeting with them while you're there, you might land a great business opportunity!
There are quite a few ways to use Twitter -
1. As soon as you start planning your trip, ask specific questions to your followers to find out more about where you're going. Examples: "I'm planning a trip to Istanbul. Have you been? Do you have a favorite hotel?" or "What is the best wine bar in Madrid?"
2. Scour your lists of who follows you and who you follow, to see if you are connected with anyone who lives in your destination. DM or direct questions to them to get advice on anything from hotels to restaurants to local events.
3. If your hotel has a Twitter account, follow them. If they're any good, they should post upcoming events in the city, at their hotel and links to useful resources. Like THIS one.
4. While you're researching your trip online, start following stores, magazines, tourist locations, etc. that interest you and have Twitter accounts. For our Seattle trip, I'm following Pike Place Market, Seattle Magazine, Inside Seattle, the Queen Anne Farmers Market, Bite of Seattle, and a few others. This way I'll know what's going on in town. You can always un-follow them when you get home.
This is very similar to Twitter -
1. First, of course, message anyone you know who lives (or have lived) in the area for advice. I've received some great tips from someone who moved to Seattle several years ago from NYC and can't wait to visit one restaurant in particular, that she suggested.
2. Chances are you don't know all of the trips your friends have ever taken and chances are also pretty good that someone you know has been to where ever it is you're going. So write a status update asking if anyone has been to Rio before and if they have any recommendations on what you should do while you're there.
3. Most businesses and cities now have Facebook pages that you can 'like' so like them and get updates through Facebook on what's happening.
If you have any active hobbies you'd like to indulge while you're on vacation, use MeetUp to find like minded groups. Granted, I have never attended an event through MeetUp, but I'm planning to next week. I found the Greenlake Running Group and will be joining them for their Early Wednesday Morning Run!
Okay, so technically the internet isn't a social network, but it's still a great tool for planning trips. Beyond the standard tourism council websites. Here are a few ways I've used the internet to my advantage -
1. For both Raleigh and Seattle I searched for running stores in the city then contacted them via email asking for suggestions on where to run (and best post-run fueling options).
2. If you're visiting a decent sized metropolitan area, there is most likely at least one monthly and/or weekly entertainment magazine. New York has several good ones like New York Magazine, The New Yorker, Time Out NY, Village Voice; all of which have great websites with event listings and often restaurant reviews. For this trip I've found a few useful articles and reviews on the Seattle Magazine website.
Of course, I can't forget to mention this awesome blogging community! I've received so many great tips and suggestions just by talking about my upcoming trip. I hope to meet up with Emily and several other bloggers while in town!
I hope you'll find some of these tips useful the next time you start planning a trip!
- What are some of your favorite resources when planning trips?
Today's workout -
35min stationary bike
120 ab exercises
2x13 weighted back extension
2x18 leg curl
2x20 leg extension
2x18 seated row