Did you know Eric & I started a YouTube account? Here's our first video, where we reveal the secret to unique travel! Hear our 4 tips below, or continue down the page to read through them. If you like what you see, don't forget to Subscribe to us on YouTube! This will allow you to see when we post new videos and it makes us feel good to know that there are people out there watching ;)
If you've read any of my travel guides, you know Eric and I aren't your typical travelers. We love to escape the crowds and find off the beaten path experiences that allow us to live into the cultures of our destination. We prefer this way of traveling because we love having unique experiences and trying new things! However, this way of traveling is definitely more difficult to plan since we can't just pick up a travel itinerary from online. Truth is, having a unique trip requires a lot more research than other vacations, but it's so beyond worth it! My goal is to help make this type of travel more accessible to you, so this is the perfect place to start if you'd like to start planning unique trips of your own!
Here's a breakdown of my top 4 tips for unique trips. Be sure to leave any tips of your own down in the comments, too!
#1) Know the geography/location details of your destination
Before you start planning, it's incredibly important to have a firm understanding of the geography of your destination. Is it big or small? Flat or mountainous? Is it made of a series of islands? Your answers dictate how you will be spending your time getting around (and how easy/hard it will be). Also note the size and scale of your destination. For example, knowing how long it will take to get from point A to point B will help you plan out your itinerary. It's also important you also check out the types of transportation that are available and make note of which you may need. Is walking an option? Driving? If not, is there reliable public transit? Sometimes you may even have to take a ferry or fly between locations once you've arrived so make note of any of those challenges and start to think about how much time you're willing to spend in transit.
#2) Don't be afraid to say no to the "top activities" in the area
Once you get a feel for the landscape, you can start planning activities. It's likely that you're going to find all of the "must see" attractions come up first in your searches, and it's great if you want to plan to do them. However, if you're looking for something truly unique, don't feel obligated to see or do something that you don't really have any interest in just because it's top rated.
The best example I have to give on this is our upcoming trip to Greece. We decided we won't be visiting Santorini or Mykonos at all during our entire 2 week stay, for which we're getting a lot of eye rolls. It's easy to fall into the FOMO (fear of missing out) and guilt of traveling that far and not seeing something, but spend your time doing what you really want to do instead of what everyone else wants you to do. Your stories will be much better ;) In our case with Santorini & Mykonos, those two places look beautiful but they just don't offer the experiences we really want, so they're off the list!
#3) Think outside the box when planning activities
While your planning your activities, make sure you're tapping into the right sources to find the best experiences. Popular services like Trip Adviser and Yelp are great for reading reviews, but they're only going to show the top things to do in your destination. If your goal is to avoid crowds and do something unique, you'll have to dig deeper.
I like to start with blogs. Spend some time searching Google for posts/articles on unique or cultural experiences. Then look up your favorites on YouTube to get a better idea of the location/activity. People who do cool things love to vlog themselves doing cool things (and I'm so happy about that). It's super helpful to see a moving video of something to evaluate if you're going to like it. Photos can be misleading and hide crowds, sketchy areas, and many other details that you'd pick up on in a video. Try to find as many reviews and first-hand accounts of your experiences as possible and know if it's your speed before you go.
#4) Consider safety
While it's fun to be the first person (or one of the only people) doing something, remember to always consider safety. If there are no photos or videos of what you want to do, make sure you do plenty of research to see if it's truly a good idea. There's a difference between adventure and naivety, so be ready for everything you get yourself into. A great way to validate experiences that might not have reviews are to ask locals. Airbnb is a great app that allows you to find experiences & stays all over the world and you can chat with the hosts before you book anything. Even if your excursion isn't on Airbnb, reach out to a local who hosts a room in that area and see if they have any insight to offer.