Travelling is, in general, exciting. People love it. We love it. But have you ever gone away and returned home seeing nothing more than the top five, ten, fifteen things in the tourist brochures? The things every tourist sees in the same place?
Have you ever wondered how people find out about gorgeous secret locations? How other people seem to find the best breakfasts, or know what’s happening in town as it happens.
Here are our top three tips for finding hidden doors to ‘local’ gems:
This is the most obvious one, but make it less obvious. Look for ‘Must see attractions in Paris” sure – you should at least see the Eiffel tower up close once or twice – but then Google the unusual “hidden bars in Croatia”, “Best beaches in Perth” and so on. Be specific, and seek out the headings that attract your attention. Gloss over them and find all those ‘hidden gems’ those in the know often seem to struggle to keep hidden.
Pinterest is a place of beauty. Almost every picture is exquisite, almost every destination looks heavenly – and pretty much every place on the map has had someone visit it. Start a pin board where you list all the beautiful and unusual, off the beaten track places that others have written about. Some you’ll get to, some you wont, but it’s a great way to find especially natural spectacles that you will probably never find in most travel guides. (Click on the Pinterest link, and replace ‘Isle of Wight’ with your destination.)
Hashtags are your friend. Often when we find ourselves in a place we’re unfamiliar with, once we’ve done the ‘what’s on in XYZ’ and found ourselves uninspired, I’ll go on Instagram or Twitter and search by the name of the place we’re in. We’ve found festivals, outdoor concerts, and all sorts of entertainment – often free, too – this way.
It’s also helped us discover some fabulous places to eat – say someone says they’ve found the best milkshake ever, then we know the place they’ve tagged is a good place to try out. And we’ve rarely been disappointed.
Okay, for all that about guide books, there are a few that are actually great. We have 1000 Places To See Before You Die, which has some of those you’d expect – but also many that you wouldn’t always think of first.
There are also many specialist books – if cream teas are your thing try AA Britain’s Best Afternoon Tea, if you want to follow in the footsteps of stars, The Ultimate Hollywood Tour book will make sure you don’t miss anything, and so each country and many interests are catered for – but don’t forget your web searches, and your hashtags.