10 travel memes to post on your next trip

We wait forever for our upcoming trips. Or at least it feels like forever. After waiting that long, you certainly win the right to go overboard and post more memes than ever, don’t you agree? Well, since you’re too busy enjoying yourself in your awesome trip, we went ahead and selected a few travel memes for you to post, so everybody and their mother know you’re having too much fun!

 

Before the trip:

 

Gotta let everybody know that the countdown has begun!

 

 

Just to let them know that you’re traveling. With them or without them. Maybe with this little push will make them finally join you.

 

Because there is at least one bad side to travel.

During the trip:

 

Some people opt for one or another. We happen to think you can have both. Why not travel with the kids? What do we all have in common? Even when we’re traveling, we’re thinking about our next trip.

 

 

Just to make sure your friends and family know what they’ll have to deal with when you come back from your fabulous month in Europe.

 

This is of public interest, and extremely important: Don’t ever kneel in Paris unintentionally. But, if you have the intention, it’s probably the best way to do it, as long as you make sure to provide for a great picture and send us the invitation for the big day afterwards!

 

After the trip:

 

Gently remind everyone that you’re are not coming back loaded with gifts, since you wisely invested on a lot of awesome experiences. Maybe a good soul can invite you to a free lunch, now that you are back without a single coin.

 

Getting back to reality is no joke. We sympathize. And so will your friends after you post this meme. They may even forgive you for over posting about your trip when they see how much you’re suffering!

 

   — The City Catt Team 😽

 

Sihouette of young family and airplane

How to survive long airport connections with kids?

They should make a new Mission Impossible where Ethan Hunt has to spend long hours on an airport connection with a bunch of kids. While we’re not going to pretend we have a solution for all you distressed parents trying to figure out what to do with your kids for so long, we’re going to try to help with some tips. After all, this is our highest mission: making trip planning easier for everybody 😉

It’s all about the perspective.

Any kid’s excitement about flying gets old pretty quick. After watching cartoons for hours and uncomfortably napping for a while, they quickly realize there’s nowhere else to go. So, if you think about it, long connections are a blessing! Welcome them as an opportunity to reset your kids’ mood by letting them spend all that contained energy ⚡️

The world is around you.

Have you ever thought that airports contain the greatest diversity within a couple hundred of acres? Depending on the age group of the children this can be a great learning opportunity for little curious minds. Take the chance to show them live how people can be different yet the same. Google different countries on your phone, show them where they are located. Try to find out what they eat and what represents good manners in their country. From observing one single person, the conversation can go really far, and who knows, inspire another trip!

Let them go wild

“Now I know this might seem crazy. But having 3 very energetic boys myself, I actually enjoy connections, cause that’s when I find a good contained spot at the airport and let them go crazy, playing Power Rangers, Superheroes… whatever they need so we go back to the plane with all that energy behind us”, says our our Co-Founder and CEO, Lizia Santos. Kids will be kids, and the best thing you can do is provide them a safe way to spend all that energy, so once you board again, they’re ready for another round of sitting for hours.

Socialize and feed their cravings

Of course, there’s always the obvious option of seeking a Children’s Play Area. Not all airports have it, but as an alternative try to find a family with kids in similar age groups. All kids welcome making new friends!

And since the airlines’ cuisine isn’t known as the best, how about exciting the kids with the amazing opportunity of picking their own food at the airport? This will sound marvelous after hours of eating whatever it’s offered on the airplane.


We didn’t fool you. The long airport connections with kids remain as an impossible mission. But at least you know we care enough to try helping you 😻. Good luck on your next connections!

–The City Catt Team 😽

hospitality industry

In charge of our cities

Hometown. If you think about it, the junction of home+town means so much to us. They can get to a point of shaping who we are: our points of view, our teams, our favorite places, our memories. It all comes from our experiences in our hometowns. And that’s why it gets personal when someone tries to change them somehow.

We’ve all had a favorite place from childhood torn down, just to be replaced by some big business parking lot? It’s upseting, to say the least. As Dennis Schaal, Executive Editor at Skift, says “Tourism development versus the locals is an issue that cities and countries worldwide have to grapple with. There’s no magic formula for striking the right balance.”

Even in tough times, the Hospitality Tourism and Service Industries thrive, as people always need a break. So, how can cities take advantage of this economical opportunity without imposing unfair changes to residents, and allowing them to profit as well? Well… just the other day, your options when traveling were hotels or camping, public transportation or taxis. Startups like AirBnb, Lyft, Uber and others have changed this and gave ordinary people a chance to have a share of the profitable Hospitality market. People who were used to just observing the changes around them can now participate and profit from them.

The challenge to the cities remains, though. The report “Advances in Hospitality, Tourism and the Services Industry” highlights the importance for them to work with the locals, in order to identify core values and goals for tourism in their community. Who better than the experts in the communities, a.k.a residents, to establish these goals?

Well, the subject is complex, and there are more questions than answers right now. It’s also very specific to each city and its own issues. But there’s one certainty in all this: residents should care and should participate. Remember, everybody is a resident for some days and a tourist other days. If we choose to be the best at each of these roles, we contribute to a balance between great cities and tourism development.

And you know what’s even better? There’s never been a better moment to take on these roles. “Sharing market startups, like Lyft, Uber, AirBnB and City Catt, give residents an opportunity to profit from the Hospitality market, but also to shape it; and tourists gain access to a much more authentic, smooth and affordable experience”, says City Catt co-founder Lizia Santos. Power to the people! 🙂

 

— By the City Catt Team 😽

City Catt, who?

We could’ve gone funny, serious or sarcastic. We chose none of those. Instead, here goes our poetic version of what City Catt is:

The smell of coffee locally grown and freshly brewed, complemented by the just out of the oven secret recipe chocolate chip muffin – the best you’ve ever had. The breathtaking view of the valley that you can only enjoy after hiking the oldest local trail, that’s best seen right before sunset. The shop that has a selection of handmade items, that find their way into your home because no other place on earth sells those things.

The happy sound of happy children running around the best playground in town, which happens also to be a castle, a boat, a fort, or whatever fits in their imagination. The best spot at the stadium, where you combine the best view, the best acoustic, and the best hot dog vendor.

Oh, the things you can only know when you call someplace your home.

Oh, the places you’d like to know.

What if anywhere could feel like home?

What if anywhere could feel like home, with a friend, who will unlock all these secrets for you, and let you experience the best, most unique and most valuable things in each city?

What if on each trip, you’d have the possibility to access insider status, and cross the bridge that divides travelers from locals? What if your visit to a new city could feel like a visit to a friend’s home? No unnecessary lines, no overpaying for things, no lost time trying to find things, no frustration over not seeing what you wanted, no disappointment over wrong expectations, no more selfies over portraits. When you connect to the people who call your destination home, then it becomes their job to make you feel welcomed. You wouldn’t be just a traveler, but a guest.

Let’s bring back the element of surprise to traveling. Let’s bring back the possibility of making friends everywhere you go. Friends think alike and like the same things. Let us connect you to like-minded people wherever you go because someone like you will show you to places you like.

Nice to meet you! Enough with the poetry, let’s have fun together!


Lizia is the Idea maker and Co-Founder of City Catt. She’s also a wife, a mom of three little boys, and a journalist. She loves road trips, exploring cities, traveling, and spending fun and meaningful times with loved ones.

7 items not to pack when you travel

It’s a moment we’ve all experienced when packing for a trip. You stare at items laid out on the bed and ask yourself, “Do I really need that? Or can I get by without it?” If you’re worried that you’ll be miles away from home and inconvenienced by the absence of an essential item, know that you don’t need to bring nearly as many items with you when you travel as you may think. Plan to take your next trip unburdened by extra baggage. Here are seven items you don’t need to pack when you travel.

 

1. Toiletries

Picking up toiletries once you’ve reached your destination can be convenient and affordable. Especially if you’ve traveled to a city with shops on every corner, you can stock up on items like shampoo, soap, and toothpaste. Your hotel may even stock complementary items in your room. As an added bonus, you won’t need to spend time removing your liquid items at airport security, which means less stress and hassle if you’re rushing to make your flight.

2. That Third Pair of Shoes

Shoes are one of the most frequently over-packed travel items. Whether you’re a fashionable business traveler, or a mom hoping to anticipate her child’s every need, plan to only pack two pairs of shoes per person (including the pair worn while traveling). Bring only your most comfortable pair of walking-around shoes, such as sneakers or boots, and an extra pair of something lighter, such as ballet flats or sandals.

3. A Different Outfit for Each Day

Don’t be tempted to stuff your suitcase full of clothes. It’s perfectly acceptable for you (and your kids) to repeat an outfit on your vacation. Let us repeat: Go ahead and wash and dry your shirts and pants in the hotel laundry room midway through your trip. You can even wash socks and underwear in the hotel sink so they can be reused as well. Which leads us to the next item on our list.

4. Laundry Detergent

We’re all about washing and repurposing your outfits, but leave the detergent at home. If you utilize a local wash-and-fold service you won’t need to provide your own detergent. If you plan to hand wash items, pick-up a single use packet at the same convenience store where you purchased those toiletries we mentioned earlier.

5. Your Ancillary Electronic Devices

A vacation should be about unplugging from your daily responsibilities and distractions and experiencing something new. Your Twitter stream, email, and game of Candy Crush can all wait until you get home. Save luggage space by only bringing one electronic device on your trip. Your smart phone is likely the most versatile and functional, so leave your laptop, tablet, MP3 player, wireless over-the-ear headphones, and e-reader at home. If you’re traveling for work, confirm with your employer what will be expected of you while you travel, and if access to email on a mobile device is all you need.

6. Your Complete Makeup Set

You may enjoy having access to makeup options at home, but if you must travel with cosmetics, commit to bringing only a basic set. For items like eyeshadow and lip gloss, bring one of each only. More options just mean more weight and less room in your carryon.

7. Beach Toys

If you’re traveling with little ones, don’t waste luggage space on pool or beach toys like inflatables, snorkels, or sand shovels. Your hotel may have sporting equipment or toys available for rent, or you can pick-up an inexpensive pair at a nearby convenience store. Don’t have access to a car? Plan ahead to have a few inexpensive items mailed to your hotel or beach house. If you’re an Amazon Prime member, you can benefit from free two-day shipping on inexpensive items that you won’t mind leaving behind for the next set of guests.

Whether you’re traveling for work or for pleasure, minimize the strain, cost, and stress of bulky suitcases and bulging carry-ons. Plan to take your next trip without the seven items on our do-not-pack list. Once you realize you fully enjoyed your trip without missing a thing, you’ll be packing lighter, and traveling happier.

Bon voyage.

 


Jessica Marabella is a writer and communications specialist with over 10 years of experience in content marketing. Originally from Upstate New York, Jessica is an avid traveler working to reach her goal of seeing all 50 states and seven continents.

Top 10 San Francisco Hidden Gems

Even for life long Bay Area-nites, San Francisco can always find a way to jumpstart your curiosity. Every city-dweller has their favorite getaway, but what if you’re hungry for something new and serendipitous in your favorite city by the bay?

To shake up your trip or daily routine, here are the top 10 hidden gems you can find in San Francisco:

 

343 Sansome Roof Garden

sansome roof tower

Sansome Roof Tower

Deep in the concrete jungle that is the Financial District, there is a hidden oasis where you least expect it. On the 15th floor of 343 Sansome Street, you will discover a hidden garden, freely open to the public. With verdant trees, intoxicating lilies, and plenty of seats, this is a perfect place to grab a sandwich and take a tranquil breather.

 

Workshop Cafe

workshop cafe

Workshop Cafe

If you’re looking for a perfect place to get things done, without paying astronomical prices for using a coffee shop’s wifi, the Workshop Cafe is your salvation. The cafe not only makes the best cappuccino in San Francisco, but it also provides a wallet- friendly way to find fast wifi at $2 an hour. Whether you are a visiting business owner or a local creative, this is a great place to work in silence.

 

Boba guys

boba guys

Boba Guys

If you’re a fan of milk tea, Boba Guys will be sure to top Starbucks as your latest necessary luxury. This cult business has grown exponentially since its founding in 2011. Although there are several locations, the tucked away store near Union Square is a local favorite. Featuring a wide variety of specialty drinks from matcha to jasmine to horchata, the extensive menu allows you to choose the perfect drink to suit your palette.

 

Flora Grubb Gardens

flora grub gardens

Flora Grub Gardens

To channel your inner botanist, the Flora Grubb Gardens can teach you the best ways to make your plants prosper. Segregating the plants based on sun exposure, you will be fascinated by how the arrangements are placed. From discovering a family of succulents in an antiquated Corvette to dangling sweet peas floating above your head, this is an exquisite place for everyone.

 

Wave Organ

wave organ

Wave Organ

Sprinkled along the San Francisco bay, The Wave Organ is a living musical instrument which is played by the ocean. Crafted from carved granite and marble, the subtle music created here must be heard to be believed. Come here at high tide to experience the finest music.

 

Seward Street Slides

seward street slide

Seward Street Slide

When you’re greeted with signs stating “No adults unless accompanied by a child,” you know that you’re in for a fun ride. Surrounded by Seward Park, all you need is a bit of cardboard to slide down to the bottom and feel like a kid for the day.

 

Lover’s Lane Trail and Wood Line: Presidio National Park

lovers lane

Lovers Lane

For a taste of the great outdoors, Lover’s Lane is one of the most underrated hiking spots in San Francisco. With fragrant eucalyptus trees flanking the trail, follow the trail of trees all the way to the top for a refreshing walk. Like the name suggests, this is a lovely spot for active couples and families alike.

16th Avenue Tiled Steps

16th avenue tile steps

16th Avenue Tile Steps

If you’re looking for a beautiful yet functional work of art, The Tiled Steps on 16th avenue are definitely a feast for the eyes. Evoking images of the ebb and flow of the ocean, the mosaic stairway leads you to extensive views of San Francisco’s Sunset district. For the best view, climb to the top at twilight.

 


Alison Koenig is a writer crafting nonfiction about technology and traveling. After traveling extensively with long stints in Italy and Sweden, she now lives in Northern California to nurture her career aspirations and adventurous lifestyle.

 

 

 

Not-So-Well-Known family-friendly Cities

When planning a vacation with the kids in mind, there’s a good chance you’ve heard of or visited the popular U.S. destinations: Orlando, San Diego, Washington, D.C., New York City. But there is a “whole another world” out there of affordable, family-friendly cities, which can offer memorable experiences. Here are some to consider:

Allentown, Pennsylvania

America on Wheels Museum

Lonely Planet ranks the Keystone State as one of the top five, family-friendly destinations that are normally not considered. In particular, Allentown offers a host of activities for kids and adults, including the American on Wheels Museum, the Lehigh Valley Zoo, the Lost River Caverns, Allentown Art Museum, and the Amore Vineyards and Winery. According tovisitpa.com, a stroll through the city’s historic district can fill an afternoon in itself or don bathing suits and hit Dorney Park and Wildwater Kingdom, which boasts 200 acres of more than 100 rides and attractions.

Crescent City, California

Ocean World Aquarium

Travelocity places this lesser known town in its top U.S. destinations for families. Just 20 miles south of Oregon, Crescent City is home to lighthouses, such as Battery Point, built in 1865, and St. George Reef, also built around the same period. Take the kids to Ocean World aquarium, which houses injured elephant seals and sea lions before they are released into the wild, according to visitcalifornia.com. Later, you can wander Pebble Beach and comb the sand for agates and other semi-precious gemstones.

Coos Bay, Oregon

Coos Bay

Located along Oregon’s “adventure coast,” and surrounded by thick forest, Coos Bay provides some outrageous outdoor fun. Hike along the area’s wind-sculpted dunes, some as high as 500 feet high, according to traveloregon.com. Visitors can also rent an ATV or dune buggy to explore the dunes. If you’d rather get wet, the family or kids can take a surf lesson (supplies/instruction can be obtained at local surf shops). You can even catch your own Dungeness crab by dropping your pot in the local Charleston Boat Basin (again, licenses and equipment are offered by local vendors). Fisherman’s Wharf employees will even cook and clean your catch for you.

If you’re looking for things to do across the whole state of Oregon, check out this awesome blog post to find suggestions for activities in diverse landscapes, from forests to beaches.

Newport, Rhode Island

Newport Beach

Another coastal city that the whole family can enjoy, Newport features everything from historic sites to beautiful beaches. Venture the cliff walk, a 3.5-mile-path at the edge of the sea, tour the more than dozen mansions that have served as summer homes to America’s wealthiest, or enjoy a sailboat ride in the city of American Cup winners. Of course, spend time on the city’s pristine beaches, explore Fort Adams State Park, and music fans will want to time their visit with the Newport Folk Festival (July 28-30) and Newport Jazz Festival (early August), according todiscovernewport.org.

Rapid City, South Dakota

Storybook island

Storybook island

Famous for Mount Rushmore, Rapid City also offers a number of family-fun options, including Dinosaur Park, Storybook Island, City View Trolley, and water parks, according tovisitrapidcity.com. The young archeologists in the family will want to visit the Mammoth Site of Hot Springs, an active archaeological dig site boasting the largest site of mammoth remains in the world, and perhaps the Journey Museum and Learning Center, which takes visitors back in time from when the Black Hills were formed some 2.5 billion years ago. Just 50 miles south of Rapid City lies the 244,00-acre Badlands National Park, where you can view endless, drastically striated rock formations.

Planning a unique family vacation can require thinking out-of-the-box. The above five destinations offer new, fun experiences for the kids as well as adult family members. While these cities might lack the hustle and bustle and larger crowds of the typical family vacation spots (not necessarily a bad thing), they provide refreshing alternatives that you certainly want to consider.


Steve Haberlin is a graduate assistant and Ph.D. student at the University of South Florida in Tampa. A former k-12 teacher and journalist, he loves travel, particularly exploring international cities.

 

Seattle or San Francisco: Rain, Fog, or Shine

It was a sunny July day when I left Seattle for San Francisco. Two days later I was shivering on the beach wearing every item of clothing I had with me watching muted fireworks explosions through the fog on the 4th of July. Fun fact: it’s not always sunny in California, and Seattle isn’t constantly rainy. Having lived in both San Francisco and Seattle, I’ve got tips on the best sights and activities no matter the weather.

San Francisco, Golden or Gloomy

San Francisco on a sunny day is glorious, but if sun’s what you’re after, visit in spring or fall, not summer. Summer in San Francisco is typically cold and foggy, and an excellent time to make day trips to Napa or Sonoma which aren’t affected by the coastal gloom and happen to be full of excellent wine.

If you are in the city on an overcast day, this can be an excellent time to take advantage of San Francisco’s great museums, especially the lesser-known Walt Disney Family Museum or the iconic Cable Car Museum.

Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco

A stop at The Buena Vista for an Irish Coffee (where this caffeinated cocktail was perfected) is another excellent way to warm up, and it’s conveniently located between Ghirardelli Square and Fisherman’s Wharf, two tourist meccas you’re likely to visit no matter the weather.

If you know enough to visit in the spring or fall for a sunny trip, you probably already know about the tourist highlights: Golden Gate Park, a walk across the bridge by the same name, Dolores Park, Ocean Beach, Sutro Baths, etc. Here are a few unique experiences best enjoyed on a sunny day:

Angel Island is a short ferry ride into the bay and offers incredible sweeping views of the city. Rent bikes for a pleasant and not too challenging ride around the island which is virtually devoid of cars.

Coit Tower also offers beautiful vistas of the water and the city and is located near iconic crooked Lombard Street for checking things off your tourist bucket list. The monument offers great views even from its base, which is free to visit, or for a small fee you can take an elevator to the top for a true change in perspective.

Seattle, Damp or Dry

Summer is the season to visit Seattle. Full disclosure, there may be a slight drizzle some mornings, but most days are warm and dry.

Spending time on the water in Seattle is the ideal way to celebrate the sun. There are myriad boat tours to be had on Lake Union, beach days and bonfires on the Puget Sound – Golden Gardens is a local favorite – or laid-back relaxing in an oversize floatie on Green Lake. Stand Up Paddleboards are readily available to rent at any of these locations as well.

green lake seattle

Green Lake – Seattle

 

Other lesser-known outdoor adventures include the Olympic Sculpture Park, which is downtown just past all of the tourist-focused waterfront and Seattle’s small but lovely Woodland Park Zoo, which feels like a botanical garden with animals tucked away in the foliage.

Given the good chance of rain most of the year, having an indoor backup plan is wise. MoPop, the Museum of Pop Culture has exhibits focused on Seattle’s music scene, all things sci-fi, and an excellent array of rotating exhibits.

My favorite place to take visitors is the Future of Flight Boeing Factory Tour, which is just north of the city. It’s truly incredible to visit the warehouses that are the size of small cities and watch airplanes come together before your very eyes.

No  matter which left coast city you visit in any type of weather, you’re sure to have a good time enjoying either of these lovely cities full of culture, natural beauty and unique experiences. Enjoy!


 

Christina is a So Cal native who now calls Seattle home. She loves to explore cities on foot, eat all the things, dance, and shop. When she’s not doing any of those things, you’ll find her on the couch, snuggling her French Bulldogs and knitting.

 

The 10 Most Romantic Spots in Chicago

Chicago, a city known for its rugged neighborhoods, deep-dish pizza and of course, brutal 50-mph winds… doesn’t lack in character or culture. However, there’s a softer side to Chicago that they don’t show you on the big screen. Whether you’re looking to surprise your significant other on an anniversary or want to impress a first date, these are 10 of the most romantic spots in the Chicago area.

1. Dîner en Blanc

Dîner en Blanc is an immersive experience that turns some of Chicago’s most beautiful public spaces into a chic rendezvous for over 1,000 invited guests. Head-to-toe in all white garb, the Dîner En Blanc attendees can enjoy their dinner, mingle with the eclectic crowd and reminisce on the prestige of high French society. This is a date-night for the books.

2. Chicago River Walk

Whether you take on the river walk by boat or foot, you will feel the true magic and energy of the city. This romantic escape from the hustle and bustle of downtown is all you need on a crisp Chicago evening.

3. Tropikava

Most date nights include a stop at the local cocktail bar. But what if hangovers aren’t really your thing? Head to Tropikava and try a relaxing, non-alcoholic, non-addictive elixir by the name of Kava. This drink derives from the Kava root and has long been used socially and ceremonially in the South Pacific. Kava is said to induce clarity, relief from anxiety and a calm sense of euphoria. Elevate to another state and relax with your partner at this innovative juice bar.

4. Millenium Park

You’ve seen the iconic images of Millennium Park and its prominent artwork on TV shows, movies and popular Instagram feeds. But this expansive civic center has much more to offer than meets the eye. Watch a movie under the stars, buy tickets to one of the colorful concert series or sneak away for a private picnic.

5. Franklin Park Conservatory & Botanical Gardens

Nothing says romance like a walk through vivid displays of flora and fauna. You’ll find captivating experiences at the conservatory that stretch far beyond the flowers. Sign up for one of the conservatory’s cooking classes and fall in love with the art of creating culinary classics from scratch. Make pasta, collect herbs, perfect Chinese recipes or even learn how to make holiday jams. Just make sure you make it out in time to see the sunset over the conservatory’s greenhouse.

6. Promontory Point

Most travelers overlook this breathtaking lookout point, which makes it the ideal spot for those who are willing to venture off the beaten path. Grab your loved one, pack a light lunch and take a stroll along this peninsula of Lake Michigan.

7.  The Signature Lounge at the 96th

Enjoy a cocktail above the clouds as the Chicago cityscape leaves you completely bewildered. The Signature Room at 96th is placed 96 floors above the ground and offers a slew of perfectly crafted cocktails from a team of world-class mixologists. Watch the sunset, order a few small-bites for the table and enjoy the timeless ambiance.

8. The Chicago Theatre

The emblematic lights in the windy city do not shine any brighter than when you’re underneath the marquee at the Chicago Theatre. Catch a show and marvel at the French Baroque-style architecture that was designed in 1921. It is the essence of sentimental charm.

9. North Pond

North Pond was originally built as a warming shelter for ice skaters back in 1912. Since then this spot has evolved into a wholesome restaurant with seasonal, locally sourced products and at atmosphere that is true to the culture of arts and crafts. Located in Lincoln Park, this restaurant is adorned with floor to ceiling glass windows that are especially dazzling at dusk.

10. Green Mill Cocktail Lounge

Nothing sets the mood quite like the melodic tones of live music. The Green Mill was frequented by legendary popular figures and continues to amaze crowds looking to kick-back and unwind with an ongoing jazz soundtrack.

  


As a Las Vegas native with an affinity for global excursions, Perri left the United States for love, self-discovery and amazing European pastries. This lucky girl hasn’t stopped traveling since. You can check her out her latest adventures at her Instagram @princeandthepear. 

 

What working as a local guide taught me about authentic travel

By Sebastian Wojnar

Defining how to travel authentically can be a challenge. Does authentic travel involve exploring a village that’s been untouched by foreign influence? Or perhaps researching the customs before beginning your trek? How ever much you prepare, you’re still an outsider. How can you even be sure if what you’ve experienced can be considered “authentic?”

Why not go local? You can get the inside scoop on what makes a place tick by teaming up with someone who already knows your destination by heart.

Learn more from your visit

Most visitors to Warsaw are mesmerized by the meticulously reconstructed Old Town. Yet without knowing their history, the narrow cobblestone alleyways all meld into a colorful blur. Likewise, the people can appear enigmatic until you get to know them. A local guide can bring to life the stucco on the hundreds of anonymous buildings. Each structure, from Zygmunt’s Column in the Castle Square to the Mermaid in the Old Town Square, illustrates just how remarkable the city’s post-World War II resurrection truly was.

Guides are also representatives of their cultures, introducing their guests to the customs and mindsets of a country through a unique, personal perspective. It was always my pleasure to share snapshots of the last few years of life in the country.

Curtail culture shock

Innately well-versed as they are in the day-to-day complexities of the destination, local guides also serve as the bridge between the traveler and the often exotic wonders of an unfamiliar environment. Obstacles like language barriers and differences in currency and customs – things which can sometimes cause culture shock – are replaced with the consideration of an enthusiastic guide willing to share his or her home.

You are also able to visit the places that are unlikely to be found in any guidebooks. Of course, the most popular attractions are that way for a good reason. But there are many places most tourists don’t see – and don’t post recommendations about on travel websites! Even if the backroads seem less glamorous, they provide a glimpse of the everyday lives of the population.

Take for instance Istanbul, divided not only by the Bosphorus but also by two distinct paces of life. Tourists naturally flock to the ancient neighborhood of Sultanahmet to visit the majestic Blue Mosque and try their luck bartering with touts in the spice market. Crossing over to Kadikoy presents one with another side of the city. Nothing in the district’s tightly-packed, sparsely-decorated shopping streets was marked for tourist consumption. With the labels and conversation all in Turkish, I could not even differentiate between all the unfamiliarly-scented dishes at a restaurant. Luckily, my local contact helped me to navigate through the crowd as it engaged in its daily grocery shopping.

Save time

Going local also saves a ton of pre-departure preparation time and stress. No more long hours searching online for the best things to do at each location. With a local tour guide at your side, you’re not only sure to get an individualized experience, but all the work is already done for you! All you really need at this point is a pair of comfortable walking shoes and a smile.

It was only while recently planning my own trip that I realized the impact of my own work. As a guide I had navigated my city’s transportation timetables, bought tickets to attractions, sourced restaurants, deciphered maps, and more. All these things had seemed like second nature to me. Yet as a traveler about to embark to a foreign country, having someone to rely on for the nitty-gritty details is priceless.


Sebastian Wojnar has lived in a number of different countries, becoming acquainted with the quirks and rewards of life in the global village. He shares his insights on work and travel in his writing, through which he hopes to instill a curiosity for the unknown.