How to Plan Your Trip Like a Travel Editor: 8 Tips to Find Inspiration to Plan Your Next Vacation
You’ve got some money burning a hole in your pocket and you know you want to travel, but you’re not sure exactly where to go. —OR— You know where you want to go, but you’re not sure what to do once you’re there. Have these things ever happened to you?
Even as a travel blogger, these things still happen to me almost every time I’m planning a trip. Sometimes I get stuck on deciding where I want to go or how I want to spend my time. Other times, I just need inspiration on what to do or where to eat when I’m there. Even travel professionals still have to do research to find inspiration and plan a trip!
If you’re looking for a bit of travel inspiration on how to plan and really enjoy your next trip, use these travel tips to uncover how the professionals do it!
1. Search Social Media
Social media is so much more than a sea of selfies and baby pictures. It can actually be put to good use as a handy travel planner when you’re looking for inspiration.
Since photos can be a great driver for spark and intrigue, I recommend checking out Instagram first. If you aren’t already, start following some travel accounts in order to gain some insight and inspiration about where you want to go next. It’s a travel blogger's job to get you to want to visit a destination, so search the Insta world for some great accounts to follow!
If you’re browsing around Instagram, you can use things like the Geotag feature, Hashtags, and other searches to find things to do in your dream destination. Searching the pictures and accounts on these pages can really help drive up interest.
I personally love using Instagram’s “save this post” feature to be able to group all the inspiration photos I want together. I even have different albums for general travel and more specific ones if I know where I’m going and want to save a collection of images to remember when I’m there.
You can also use other platforms like Snapchat, YouTube, Twitter, or Facebook to find inspiration, but I tend to think Instagram is the king of travel content for this purpose. PS—you can follow me on my Instagram for your weekly dose of travel inspo right here: @thecitysidewalks
2. Asking “for a Friend”
There’s really no better way to get travel inspiration and ideas than to ask someone you know and trust. Ask your friends, family, or colleagues about their recent trips. See where they have been and/or places that they would recommend going.
If you already know where you are going, ask people for recommendations on places to go once you’re there! Bonus points if you can ask someone who lives there or has lived there. It’s a great way to find hidden gems or spots that only locals would know about.
3. Browse Travel Blogs
Travel blogs are such a great resource for finding what to do, where to eat, where to stay, and other helpful tips for destinations all over the world! In my opinion, compared to other travel resources (like asking your hotel concierge), travel blogs tend to be much more genuine and personable.
Travel blogs can also be a great place to find curated city guides with free tips and information about things to do. If you’re looking for a unique experience, you’re also more likely to find off-the-beaten-path tips on personal travel blogs instead of your standard travel book.
If you haven’t found a great travel blog that you like to frequently follow, a simple Google search would do the trick! Or, use the next step for searching Pinterest.
RELATED: The City Sidewalks City Guides
4. Get on Pinterest
LISTEN UP, EVERYONE! This tool is a GOLD MINE of travel information. Pinterest is the #1 most underrated tool to find travel inspiration. There is so much more than recipes and DIY home decor tips on here. If you’re not using it for travel, you’re falling behind.
If you have an upcoming trip planned, or you’re just looking for some general inspiration, get onto Pinterest and start using it as your personal travel planner right now. I’m obsessed with Pinterest and use it all the time when I’m planning trips. You can find curated city guides, tips about things to do and where to eat, and even photos of cool places that you can visit or see. It’s a travel-planning dream!
Create and use your own boards to pin articles, photos, or other tips so you can keep everything organized. You can create a board specific for your upcoming destination, or have a general inspiration board for anything.
5. Keep a Travel Journal, Wish List, or Excel Spreadsheet
I’m in my head a lot, so I tend to need a lot of organization skills to keep everything compartmentalized and in order (where my other Type A personalities at?!). These habits have really come in handy when I start planning new adventures.
In the past, I’ve kept travel journals that have lists of all the places I wanted to go. I’ve had wish lists of cities or streets I wanted to see. I’ve even gone as far as organizing the massive (and endless) list of restaurants I want to eat at in NYC and Chicago into an Excel Spreadsheet.
If you’re Type A like me—or you just want a new way to keep your travel inspiration organized—consider using these tricks. It helps keep everything in one spot so that you know where to look when you’re in search of some guidance.
6. Explore Deals on These Websites
If I have no clue where to travel next, the first thing I do is consult a handful of airline websites to see what deals are out there. I don’t even know how it’s possible, but these websites have incredible deals all the time that allow you to travel anywhere in the world on your own budget. These are my favorite ones:
7. Save Things to Google Maps
Another organization tool for my Type A people! If you didn’t already know, Google Maps has a way of saving places that you want to go (or places you have been) with a little flag or star to keep for later. I use this on a daily basis—especially in New York where the restaurant choices are endless.
If someone gives you a tip on where to eat dinner in Paris, or you see a cool spot you want to return later when you’re walking through Brooklyn, use Google Maps to save the location!
To save a location, open Google Maps > find the place on the map > select the establishment > click “SAVE” > and “Save in your lists.” It’s super easy! It’s better than having a list that you forgot on your computer and it gives you the map and directions for reference.
8. Check TripAdvisor or Yelp
Tools like TripAdvisor and Yelp can be your best friends when planning where eat or what to do once you’re in a destination. You can end up finding some great restaurants or activities using these apps. I particularly love that you can narrow things down by budget and location.
A word to the wise: Take these apps and their reviews with the grain of salt. I’ve been to restaurants that have only a 3 star rating on Yelp, but they are literally some of the BEST places to go in the city. Sometimes people can be extremely petty with their reviews (like deducting a star because they didn’t have Pepsi vs. Coke) or leave scathing comments because of one bad, uncommon experience. Take all these reviews with the grain of salt.
BONUS: TripAdvisor also has amazing lists of best destinations and hotels to visit that are broken down into tons of categories. If you’re still searching for where to go or where to stay, this can be really helpful to narrow things down!
What kind of planning tools do you use when you travel? Are they some of the things on this list? Comment below with more travel inspiration or advice!
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