Ive not been much of a traveller but as im getting older and considering a bucket list one of the places id love to visit is Prague, but out of my comfort zone i need all the information regarding travel, places to see eat etc to hand to save having a panic attack.
Holiday company brochures are useful but also fill me with dread at the same time so its a refreshing change to read “real peoples” holiday hints and tips.
This is where Travellove come to the fore, formed by sistersLada Kičmerová and Katka Mikulková who are both from the wonderful city of Prague. with a passion for travelling and writing they have compiled a list of top tips to make booking that longed for trip as relaxing as possible.
1. Read as much as you can about your chosen destination
Start with learning. Read guidebooks, online blogs, watch documentaries and absorb as much knowledge as you can about the place you’re going to visit. Put the stories you hear and the facts you’re told into context.
2. Search for off-the-beaten-path things to see and do
Hopefully you’re good at googling, because that’s one of the best ways to search for authentic places to see and things to do where you won’t bump into tourists on every corner.
3. Ask everybody: friends, friends of friends, online forums…
People who have travelled to the place you want to visit will already have some insight, but if you can reach somebody who lives there long-term, even better. Ask for unique things to do, practicalities, and what to avoid.
4. Read a few books and watch some movies
Now this is perhaps the most fun part unless you’re travelling to a location that’s only covered by uber-artsy movies. Getting into the culture and reading/watching stories, albeit fiction ones, will help you relate to locals more easily.
5. Buy maps and study them
Believe us, it’s too late to have a look at a map only once you’re on the spot. You’d lose precious moments that you could dedicate to immersing yourself in the environment. Make sure you know the layout of the city or an area and generally know hot to navigate it.
6. Find accommodation
Use more than one booking site and look at reviews. Do you fancy a hotel or something more authentic? Perhaps there’s a nice inn or a traditional house you could stay at? If your budget is tight, you can solve it by trying Couchsurfing – a friendly local will offer you his/her couch for free. An apartment rented through Airbnb might be a nice alternative as well.
7. Search for locals on the spot
Some Couchsurfers are used to taking their new international friends around and showing their city to them. You can also hire locals for guided tours or other activities. We often use some of the websites listed below. Just be careful – the guides can be of varying quality. Some of the big portals are Viator, Vayable, EatWith etc. We prefer smaller portals that are oriented on specific countries and offer true locals experiences such as trip4real, Localers, Bonappeteur, Guidilo etc.Getting in touch with a local person who might be willing to help with the planning is another option. There are portals specialising in this such as Likealocalguide or Plansify. You can also try a short volunteering activity to reach out to the locals in a very memorable way. Check out e.g. Grassrootsvolunteering for that.
8. Solve transport
Of course you could get around by a taxi. But is this what you really want? If locals use tuk tuks, you’d be a fool not to try them out. Research what options there are.
9. Double-check everything
Use review sites like TripAdvisor to check the credibility of a place you want to stay at, of a local you want to meet, of a service you want to try… you don’t want a lousy hotel room ruin your impression of the city you’re eager to visit.
10. Use planning tools…
… otherwise you’ll spend too much time putting a good itinerary together. Examples are Tripomatic or TripIt.
Once there, ask at your hotel’s front desk for recommendations (even though they might recommend rather touristy things). Go visit a local tourist info center, where they might give you further assistance. If you’re not too shy, just stop people on the street and ask them.
If you want to save time with all this check out trips designed by locals at MyTravelove. You just pick what you want to experience and the final suggested itinerary will be delivered to you on a silver plate and all the searching, booking and organizing will be taken care of. Before your trip you will receive a custom guidebook made just for you, you could call it your very own, personal Lonely Planet.
Now a lot of this seems like common sense but if your like me and not been abroad much knowing where to start when booking a holiday is a daunting task so i for one will be using travel love when i get around to booking a well earned break in 2016. Prague here i come–