Sometimes the hardest part of planning your trip is figuring out what you’re going to do while you’re there. It’s even harder when you’ve never visited the area before – or if you’re one of those travelers who don’t like to do the “touristy” things. (By the way, we like those kinds of travelers.) Planning a trip can be stressful, but don’t go running to a travel agent who can just figure it all out for you just yet. The internet makes it easy and fun. Here are a few ways to use the internet to plan your next trip’s itinerary.
Google Your Surroundings
The best way to find restaurants, events, and attractions is to simply Google them. Find out the area code of your hotel and then head over to Google.com. Search for such phrases as “restaurants near [zip code]” or “attractions in [zip code].” If you’re unsure of the area you’re staying in, use Google Street View to see the outside of your hotel, the quality of the building and roads, what kind of businesses are nearby, and even what kind of cars are parked in the street.
When you’re looking for things to do, try searching the phrase “events in [city]+[date of visit].” A number of cities have a calendar of events for the specific location and surrounding areas. If you’re looking for places to visit no matter the date, try searching “things to do in [city].” The more specific you are the better, so try “things to do in [city] for seniors,” “unique museums in [city],” etc. etc.
When you Google these topics, chances are a number of reviews sites will show up in your results. There are a variety of ways you can use these reviews sites. Many of them will have top ten lists that rank the best attractions and restaurants in the area. Some of them may even include pictures and menus to help with planning ahead. You may even find a unique attraction or two listed on these sites. In our opinion, the best way to use these reviews sites is to find out if that museum or theme park (or whatever attraction you choose) is worth it before you spend your money on a ticket.
If people have had an awful experience or a great experience, they’ll want to tell people about it. On these sites, you’ll be able to gage the quality of service, food, and cleanliness. You may be able to find out if the attraction is family friendly or requires a ton of walking. You may discover that the prices are outrageous for what the attraction offers or that you’ll miss out on a once in a lifetime opportunity if you don’t go.
When reading reviews from others, always be cautious. Some people only go on reviews sites when they are angry or have a bad experience. Take a look at their profile and the other reviews they post to see if that is the case before you take their horrible experience too seriously. You’ll also want to read about what exactly it is their complaining about. The person may have been expecting too much or may have just been posting out of gossip or hearsay – never even truly visiting the business. Make sure to read a number of reviews to form your own decision – not just one or two.
Ask Your Friends
As you’ll be able to tell from the reviews sites, people love to give their opinion. We’re sure you know people who are the same way. Use social media to reach out to those kinds of people. Update your status on Facebook or send a tweet on Twitter asking your friends and followers for their own recommendations on where you should eat and visit on your trip. People who have been to the area will be happy to give their advice. You may even get some friends who will look up some information on the area for you or provide you with resources to help.
Use Daily Deals Sites
Check out such daily deals sites as Groupon and Living Social to find restaurants, attractions, and events happening in the area. Enter your location in the search bar and then pick from such categories as Things to Do, Food & Drink, and Beauty & Spas. Not only will you discover new places to visit, you can also get a deal on your activity.
Do Your Research
Once you find the places you’d like to visit and compile a list, research each place. Review the business’ website and Facebook page to find out more information including prices, business hours, and pictures. If you haven’t yet, look at the reviews for each place. Map each venue and plan out whether you can walk to it or will need to take a cab or public transportation. You may even want to make reservations online in advance.
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