In over 3 years of travel I’ve learnt a lot about the best ways to un-earth the best travel tips for exploring a new destination. When I started it was all about guide books, they
are were a travellers best friend and I can’t remember how many times I referred to it. It was my bible and provided a window into which I would discover the best place to stay, eat and visit.
The problem… everybody else had one so often the recommended hotels/hostels were crowded or overpriced and every listed restaurant had capitalised on the exposure and began overcharging
Luckily since then the world has progressed beyond heavy, outdated guide books into the world of the internet where I’ve discovered an amazing number of new ways to find the best of for a destination. So I give to you my personal best top travel tips on how I find about the best things to see, eat and sleep in a new city.
Travel Tip One – Foursquare
Foursquare for those that don’t know is a location-based social network where people tag themselves at locations while leaving tips to gain badges and score the most points against their friends. What started out as more of a game than anything else has now turned into a vast resource of tips and suggestions as users leave feedback on where they’ve been from all around the world.
I like to think of it as a better version of TripAdvisor crossed with speaking to a local as the content is curated from both locals and travellers. It’s my number one go to app when looking for a place to eat and has served me well many times over. My best find so far would have to have been a burger joint discovered down a little Paris street. It’s the last thing you’d think to go to in Paris but that’s the joy of travel, finding the unique in all destinations.
Travel Tip Two – Twitter/Facebook
This might be better suited to the social butterflies of the world but both Facebook and Twitter play a big role in helping me to find great travel tips on new places. While I’m lucky that I’ve got an army of followers to help answer questions the same tips can be used by anybody else. Asking questions on either social network while using hashtags for the specific area will normally result in helpful answers from complete strangers.
Combine that with joining specific groups on Facebook on a destination or asking influential individuals/bloggers via comments on their Facebook page or sending a tweet normally unearths a wealth of tips. Many are more than happy to help answer questions and will often pose the question to their followers for you.
Even Instagram can be the perfect tool to finding places to visit. I don’t know how many times I’ve looked at Tourism Australia’s account and noted down places I MUST see next time I’m home.
Travel Tip Three – Free Walking Tours
I’ve written about this recently but Free Walking Tours are run all over the world now and are a unique way to explore a city. Most run for 3-4 hours with tour guides directing you to many well know and a few lesser visited tourist attractions around a city.
Not only will you get to explore a new city but you’ll get to do so with a bunch of strangers who are all full of amazing travel knowledge as well. Word of mouth travel tips can be just as good as chatting to a local in my opinion. It was by chance that I learnt about a hostel along the Amalfi Coast from others taking part in a free walking tour. To this day it’s still the best hotel/hostel I’ve ever stayed in and one of my favourite parts of the world as well.
Travel Tip Four – Travel Blogs
I guess it would be remiss of me not to mention researching destinations via a travel blog, especially since I own one. While not all travel blogs are equal many are filled with helpful first hand knowledge of a destination. Travel bloggers are passionate about travel and often go to great lengths to research a topic and share the knowledge they learn with the world.
Travel Tip Five – Ask A Local
And lastly I bring you perhaps the oldest trick in the book but asking locals about the best places in their town will always trump a guide book’s suggestion. This is where it pays to learn a little of the local language. It shows a willingness to learn about the area and I’ve always been greeted with a smile and help even if I’ve butchered their language trying to get my point across. It’s all about the effort, the more you put in the more you get in return.
Be it the owner of the place your staying, the cleaner, the guy at the bus stop or a friendly shop owner. All have much more knowledge on their town than you ever will and taking 10 minutes to talk to them could well find you a hidden gem that’s well off the beaten path in the middle of even the biggest cities like London or Rome.
Now you’ve heard about the tips I use to discover a new place I want you to tell me about your secret travel tips. How do you find the best places to eat, see and visit while travelling? Leave a comment below, post a message on my Facebook wall, or simple tweet at me.
Fantastic tips 🙂 I am a bit of a foodie and a photographer so I also use chowhound forums for dining tips and photography forums to find good photo spots
Hi Paula I’ve never heard of chowhound so might have to look them. I’ve used foursquare for practically all of my dining tips this might be a great addition, thanks for the tip.
I’m loving the tools that have been developed that allow for more real-time advice as you’re wandering aimlessly in the middle of nowhere. Would have come in handy quite a few times over the years…and networking online with other people and staying with friends or their buddies is quite a bit faster and less awkward than Couchsurfing, which makes it a great option as well.
Definitely agree with you about the amount of ways you can now find and get tips in real time. While some may argue your missing out on the real experience I’d much rather know about the delicious local restaurant a block over than just walk by and miss it entirely because it wasn’t in my guidebook.
I am a fan of Trip Advisor but only for accommodation and tours I never use the restaurants on there as one visit by a tourist is never a good indication
That said now we are looking at long term travel I am looking at many things differently and rarely visit TA for information. Time will tell if that continues
Michele, I’ve never given much credit to TA due to the rampant abuse of their rating systems. Still as long as businesses use it, they are always going to be around.
I’ve found with all systems you’ve got to take some good with the bad, so you just have to pick the best of the bunch and go for it.
Cheers these are awesome tips! I love the free walking tours, they are the best way to see a city. I had heard of foursquare but didn’t realize it was that useful thanks
Jaryd, I agree the free walking tours are a great way to see a place, planning to take one in Dublin tomorrow or the day after to get a feel for the city now that I’m living in Ireland for a little bit. As for Foursquare its come a long way of late and moved into more of a social discovery tool rather than just a game. It’s been great for finding places to eat in a new area for me.
Great tips Chris! I never thought to use FourSquare… really should get into that. I see there’s a FourSquare link via Instagram so I might start posting all my Instagram photos onto there too to help out other travellers.
I LOVE walking tours. They are a great way to meet other people too if you’re a solo traveller. 🙂
Awesome list! I find foursquare really helpful too.
Free walking tours are the best. I stumbled upon one in Munich and it turned out to be one of the best parts of my entire trip! Great tips!
Yelp! (not ouch, but the app :))
How do you find the walking tours? We are giving to Australia and New Zealand in January and would love to do that.
Hi Joan, I’ve mainly taken walking tours in Europe as they are quite prevalent there. I do know there is a free walking tour in both Sydney and Melbourne but no idea on New Zealand. I took the Sydney tour and enjoyed it as a great way to get familiar with the city.