Travel Lovers Have A Secret Weapon For Learning About New Destinations

Travel planning can be overwhelming, to say the least. Once you figure out the destination, there's a thousand other details to consider, like what to do, where to stay, how to get around, what to pack, and the list goes on and on. Sure, you can consult a trusty guide book, but there's an easier and faster way to get the exact intel you need: Reddit. It's the perfect place for those looking for specific advice who are skeptical about reviews and ratings on other platforms.

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Yes, you'll be taking advice from a group of total strangers, but you'd be surprised just how detailed and helpful people's posts can be. There's a reason why search engines have recently started promoting social forums like Reddit to the top of search results. If you know where to look, it's a treasure trove of real advice by real people. Locals and past travelers are happy to chime in with their two cents — and it's completely free. All you need is an account, a mild love of research, and the skills to put it all together into a customized itinerary.

How to dig around on Reddit

Launched in 2005, Reddit is the sixth-most visited website in America with 430 million monthly users. There are 32 popular travel forums to choose from, catering to any type of traveler. Whether you want to explore on a budget (r/shoestring), pack like a minimalist (r/onebag), work from anywhere (r/digitalnomad), or borrow tips from other travelers (r/travelhacks), there's a little something for everyone.

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It's also worth digging into country-specific forums. For example, if you're planning a trip to Italy, use the search bar to look up r/Italy or r/italytravel. You can scroll through the posts chronologically for a bit of inspiration. Or, if you'd rather get straight into it, use Google to do a site search. Look up keyword phrases like "Where to stay in Rome on Reddit" or "best restaurants in Rome on Reddit." Tag Reddit on the back of every search query, so Google knows where to direct you. This trick works for researching specifics, too, like inquiring about certain hotels, excursions, and tour operators.

As you comb through posts, organize the gems onto a Google doc. Include headings for easy navigation, like "Hotel Recommendations" and "Things To Do." Flag the places that crop up more than once, either with a tally of how many times you saw them mentioned or by highlighting them in a different color. Consider these the must-see places you don't want to miss.

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Posting questions and vetting your plans

If you can't find the answer you need, post your question in a few forums. Avoid general questions like, "What are some things to do in Italy?" Instead, be specific and ask something like, "If there was one restaurant I had to try in Rome, what would it be? I have a budget of $50 for dinner, and I love pizza with unusual ingredients." Depending on the nature of the question, it wouldn't hurt to add how long you'll be visiting, what time of year you're going, your level of travel experience, whether you're traveling solo or with others, if you're renting a car while you're there, your dislikes, and what kind of hobbies you enjoy.

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Before you book anything, you can have users evaluate your itinerary and offer feedback. For example, you could write, "On Monday, we're seeing the Colosseum and Pantheon. On Tuesday, we're visiting the Vatican and Fontana di Trevi," and so on. Users will be quick to let you know whether it's solid or if you need to rearrange a few things, like changing your stops to different days or organizing your flow better so that landmarks are closer together. Of course, not all feedback will be positive, but feel free to just ignore the trolls. Once you've had your dream vacation, don't forget to pay it forward by answering other traveler's questions or posting an in-depth trip report. With each new pearl of wisdom, Reddit gets better for everyone.

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