Part 1 – Inspiration
With SO many “Must-See” or “Top 10” travel articles floating around the internet to inspire or convince you that you need to visit every corner of the globe, knowing where to even start planning can be quite overwhelming.
Where ever you want to go, someone has (undoubtedly) been before you and documented their experience. For me, I am ALL about doing and seeing much in as possible, to make the most of the limited time I have there to spend. I get almost restless when I am in one place too long, when I know there is this great wide world brimming with amazing things to see and do! I definitely suffer from FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) syndrome so I like to plan as much as I can before I get there. BUT I always leave some free time in case something comes up, the weather decides to spoil your day, you discover something new to explore or you meet new people that you want to hang out with.
What is Pinterest? I think of it like an online scrap book, I used to collect magazine articles that inspired me, but this was time consuming, costly and I’d often have lost them by the time I needed them. Cue Pinterest.
When you create your account you chose the subjects that you are interested in and Pinterest will bring up suggested pins (images) for you. You create “boards” to save the things you like to (up to 500!) and can categorise them to keep things organised. When you see something you like, you bookmark or “pin it” to your desired board. People have boards covering fashion, wedding planning, garden landscaping and travel. As well as secret boards that only you or people you chose can see. You can also follow other users similarly to facebook and other social media. Most pins are linked so if you click the photo it will take you to further information which is very handy.
Is a great visual tool to find images from the places you want to visit. My personal travel boards are divided into countries I hope to visit or an researching and are filled with all the photos that have caught my eye and am saving for a rainy day to read up on and add to an itinerary.
Along with some breath-taking photos there are some great travel guides and travel tips on there too. However some of the links may not take you to the page you were expecting, but the photos usually have enough information on them to be able to google them. You can also pin articles and photos from websites and blogs external to Pinterest which means you can literally keep everything you need in one place.
By following like-minded people you are sure to be inspired and travel bloggers especially are usually careful to link only to relevant articles.
There is also useful Map feature to see where each of the things you have pinned is located and to help you plan your route. Pinterest has a great article on how to use the place pins here.
Here is another great article on how to use Pinterest to plan your trip from Y Travel
Thank you hashtags! With the ever increasing demand of social media to show off our lives and experiences to all our friends and families, travellers are uploading their snaps to Instagram and tagging them using hashtags (#). So for a recent trip to Rhodes I searched (predictably) #Rhodes, which brought up fellow travellers’ photos and all posts with that hashtag. Some images may not be relevant but by browsing through them I got a good idea about where I’d like to visit there. There were photos from St Peters Bay and Anthony Quinn Bay, which both looked beautiful and from there I was able to research these places further. Users can also “Geo-Tag” their location, in a similar way to “checking in” on Facebook, this can be really helpful when trying plan your route.
Too Many Adapters has created an “App Mapp” to explain in an easy-to-follow format how to use this app to enrich your travel experience.
This is a big one, the biggest world travel site and one of the most used and recognised for reviews. You can find hotels, apartment rentals, peruse traveller’s photos, discuss itineraries on forums and compare tour operators.
However there are three problems:
- It can be overwhelming
- It can be contradictory
- It can become an obsession
TripAdvisor boasts more than 250 million reviews and opinions covering more than 5.2 million accommodations, restaurants, and attractions operating in 45 countries worldwide. (Source) That’s a lot!
I use Trip Advisor to search for places to visit in a destination; the “Things To Do” function is very informative. As your travel is such a personal affair, sometimes the actual “things” aren’t relevant but it’s a good starting point. If you have already found some places to visit or do, check the reviews to see if it is worth going or to pick up any tips for those who have gone before. This is especially useful for hotel room recommendations (garden view rooms are quiet), to avoid the masses (visit Lindos Acropolis before 9am to beat the crowds and heat) help get the lay of the land (skip the supermarket across the road (limited/expensive) and walk to the one 100 meters behind the hotel). You get my point. Sharing experience can definitely save your time and money.
Navigating their restaurant ratings can be tricky since it doesn’t differentiate between establishments, such as a restaurant or a street food cart, but you can use filters to reduce hone in on your requirements.
There will ALWAYS be good and bad reviews as personal expectations differ as well as the mood you are in and the staff on duty at that moment. There are so many variables and each person’s encounter will be unique. I do try to look at the good and the bad, you have to, but I always try to find a common theme or regularity between the middle ground reviews. They will tend to be the most sizable portion of reviews. You also need to remember your common sense here, if any of the responses to situations described are not how you would react, you probably won’t have a similar experience.
The sheer amount of detail and material available to you does mean that you can over scrutinise every tiny detail, and before you know it you have lost hours trying to decide between two almost identical day tours or one restaurants or hotels. Sometimes you just have to choose!
Checking the weather conditions is SO important in order to plan realistically! On a trip to the Arctic Circle whilst chasing the Northern Lights, our tour guide recommended www.yr.no for very detailed and accurate hourly forecasts. When searching for the Aurora Borealis you need to find a place with no cloud cover otherwise it blocks those dancing curtains from your view. This website shows cloud cover, precipitation in long and short term forecasts. In all the years we have been using it, it’s never let us down.
Friend’s recommendations are always good one to trust, chances are they know what you like (and don’t) so would only suggest relevant things and will (usually) give you an honest opinion.
With so many choices and so many niches, travel blogs offer a wealth of information. They serve not only as inspiration but also as your personal travel guide. They usually write from an “expert” point of view and if they cover your chosen area, will be very knowledgeable and are contactable.
That’s it for part one, and I hope you find your inspiration.
Last modified: 27th February 2017