We had to split up the family. 4 of us on this table and 2 on the other side of the room. We fumbled our way through the menu and managed to order something. Plate after plate of antipasti and pastas were set down in front of us, and with each bite, my brain struggled to comprehend how something could taste so impossibly delicious.
We found this teeny tiny restaurant in the heart of Rome because the shop assistant who sold me my Puma Mostros in mustard yellow gave us the tip (fashion circa 2003).
This is just one of my many unforgettable travel moments that happened courtesy of “a tip”, and throughout my travels I’ve learned the best ways to look for recommendations from locals.
So here are the 7 best ways to search out those precious travel tips:
1) The Wanderguide
This is becoming one of the best ways to find those hidden gems while travelling. Locals and travelers alike have created guides filled with their own personal recommendations.
They’ve added restaurants, cafes that are off the beaten path, sights, museums…basically anything they deem worthy!
Why is the Wanderguide a great way to find local tips?
Well for starters it’s one of the only ways you can get those local tips ahead of time. Most local recommendations require a face to face conversation at your destination. Getting tips from a Wanderguide can happen during your planning phase.
On top of that, the Wanderguide keeps all the recs in one place…and with a simple click of tile you can find all the important info you’d need ie Google reviews, location, opening hours, contact info.
2) Get to know your hosts
Airbnb hosts are an amazing resource. They’ve most likely been asked for their recommendations before so their probably pretty prepared with answers for you.
Plus you know that their recommendations are going to be legit as their focus is to provide the best experience for their guests.
(Side note, if you’re an Airbnb host and you’re reading this message and you’re feeling me…make a Wanderguide with your recommendations. Trust me, this baby is a time saver).
3) Take a guided tour
Ok, so you might be thinking that a guided tour will only take you to the touristy spots in town. You’re not wrong. Depending on what kind of tour you book, you will most likely be seeing the city’s greatest hits. Not like that’s a bad thing…if you’re in Paris, see the Eiffel Tower for pete’s sake.
However your tour guide (in addition to regaling you with facts and figures) is an incredible resource as a local who knows the ins and outs of their terrain.
Introduce yourself at the beginning of the tour and let them know you’re looking for some great tips and they’ll probably point places out to you throughout your tour.
4) Get your hair done
Vibing a hair salon that you just happened to stumble upon? Spot a dapper barber shop? Don’t be afraid to pop in a book an appointment for a treatment that will give you that extra spring in your step.
Time spent in the seat is the perfect opportunity to get the lay of the land from your coiffeur. And you’ll be stepping back out on to the streets feeling fresh AF armed with a solid list of local tips!
5) Do what you’d do at home
Crossfit much? Jiu jitsu? Knit? Dance? If it’s a passion for you at home, you can count on finding a similar community whilst on your travels. So chassé your way to the local gym, mat or knit night and make amazing connections with like minded folks.
You’ll get to experience how this country approaches your favorite pastime but you’ll also get the opportunity to mine for more tips for your stay.
6) Become a regular
Sometimes it’s hard to break through and make connections with strangers. One of the ways that I’ve learned to forge new friendships is by becoming a “regular” at the nearby coffee shop or corner store. Of course this would be hard to accomplish if you’re on a 48 hour layover, but if your stay is for a week or more, make yourself a familiar face in one establishment. You’ll win points for being loyal and will hopefully be rewarded with some real gems.
7) Start a conversation
Ok, so #2 through #6 all involve starting a conversation, but unless you’re finding your tips through a Wanderguide, starting a conversation is going to be your only way forward.
Be open minded to those you talk to and don’t forget to smile and be friendly. My travel experiences have taught me that locals genuinely want you to have positive experiences in their city and they feel proud knowing that they had a hand in creating unforgettable moments for you to cherish.