Many people that I converse with about my travels are people who do not currently have the time to travel or did not have the opportunity to in earlier years of their life. For anyone who is considering traveling more, whether that be domestically or internationally, it can be extremely overwhelming with the amount of resources that exist today.
It is no secret that advancements in technology, especially social media, completely flipped the way we communicate and share information. Similarly, this means that it is hard to decipher what to trust. There is so much out there on the web, so where does one start? Well, the beauty of planning of a trip is that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to doing it. But here are a few steps I take when I am thinking of going somewhere I have never been:
This one was a no-brainer. First, I like to see what the city is about with a simple Google search; this includes major attractions, current news, and how many results for blog posts come up. I also use this time to browse on Google Maps to get an understanding of the location and what it’s close to which further helps me get an idea of how to pack.
As a fellow vlogger, I like to watch vlogs of the city I am interested in visiting. Narrowing down what to look for or to watch is completely subjective, but something I definitely like to do is put in the city and “black” in the search to see the city through a lens I can relate to (e.g. san juan vlog black). Mini vent: often times, the most popular results on any website are pretty, skinny, white women and/or white couples and, depending on the city I am visiting, I just know that my experience is not going to be like theirs. Vlogs allow me to see how accessible the city is on foot, how crowded certain areas are, and, frankly, what the city actually looks like!! For example, I am planning to visit Lisbon, Portugal later this year and had no idea it was a hilly city until I watched a couple of vlogs. It’s an added bonus that making specifications in my search allows me to find and support other black creatives. 🙂
Once I have narrowed down what I am personally interested in, I go on Instagram and search the Tags. For example, I saw there is a place in Portugal called Sintra that is an easy day trip from Lisbon, so I will search “sintra,” pick the tag with the most results, and see how many different photos come up.
If I find that a bulk of the photos are showing the same attraction/photo op, that lets me know I should research further if the day trip would be worth it. If you want to keep the search broader, you can just follow the Lisbon tag (if you have an Instagram) and get ideas that way for things to do or where to eat, especially to see where locals are tagging themselves.
Another thing I like to do is if I love how a picture looks, I will visit the Instagrammer’s page to see if they have any highlights for their visit and watch it to get ideas for restaurants and neighborhoods. For example, I had no idea that the island of Vieques in Puerto Rico had a black sand beach until I watched this woman’s Instagram highlight.
The good news about Instagram is that you do not have to create an account to browse it, but you will have to to follow tags/accounts or set notifications for when someone posts.
- Word of mouth
Of course, there’s always the good old-fashioned grassroots approach of reaching out to people or friends of friends who have visited the city you are interested in. That is yet another benefit of social media since we can see these things in real time, save/bookmark the information, and reach people directly. 🙂