Local Bloggers and Influencers Are The Secret for Insider Scoop

A wasted afternoon at a tourist-trap attraction?

Yup, been there; it has happened before.

A clear memory of this was in 2009 on a trip South America; getting stuck in the tourist trap that is La Boca in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Known as the birthplace of the tango, La Boca, a one-time shipyard has a famous walkway, El Caminito, where tango dancers perform and artists exhibit their work on this colorful street.

The true grittiness of the neighborhood is lost and now it is essentially a tourist trap, full of people touting for business. It is filled with over priced tourist trinkets and t-shirt heaven; faux tango eatery and photo hustlers are in abundance. The only genuine thing left is Boca fútbol stadium 4 blocks north, with a soccer museum charging $12USD entrance. A wasted afternoon indeed.

I wish we would have been warned that this place was the equivalent to San Francisco's Fisherman's Warf or Khao San Road in Bangkok. If only we would have known a blogger... or local for the inside scoop!

Every major city has bloggers obsessed with what's new and great in their backyard, particularly in regard to restaurants. Using Google Blog Search to find bloggers in whatever city you are visiting is a great place to start. You can also use Instagram by searching in the search or through geo tags.

Bloggers and influencers are a phenomenal resource but do not just read what they are writing: Contact them for personal recommendations. The more specific your request — and the more you flatter them for their insight and wit — the more likely you will be to pique their interest and get a response.  

Being from San Francisco, there is no denying that it is a foodie's mecca of must-try places. One might ask: "What's your favorite vegetarian-friendly restaurant within walking distance of the Hotel Vitale on Mission Street? We are looking for a place with a romantic vibe, ideally because it is our anniversary. We'd be so grateful for your help because you obviously know what's going on in San Francisco!" Bloggers love to provide tips and recommendations on their city!

Have I tried this? Yes!  

I've had plenty of people ask me as well via Instagram, and I've shared some of my insights as well.

While in Hoi An, Vietnam, I got in touch with via Twitter with Jodi from Legal Nomads, connected me with two bloggers that were currently in Hoi An--James from Nomadic Notes and Leif, a freelance travel writer and Lonely Planet author.

Gregg and I got the opportunity to have a Cao Lau dinner and share travel stories with James and Leif, followed by a fruit shake along the river. We also did research online as to what online travel bloggers recommend. Many recommended Ms. Chien's Pho Cao Lau Hu Tieu in the Central Market. The steaming bowls of pho were amazing!

By browsing Instagram, you can also get ideas in where to venture next. So, if you are unsure of where to head to, ask local bloggers!

Cover Image Credit: @amybuglione, Instagram; First published June 25, 2013; Updated August 14, 2017.

How A Good Concierge Can Make Your Trip Unstoppable

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Think a concierge is only for the wealthy business type? Think again. I’ve made a career out of helping Silicon Valley elite with their daily lives, and you can sure bet that coordinating travel is a big part of it. With ten years in my line of work, I’ve got some secrets, and it starts with the concierge. A concierge can make a difference in your trip.

That extensive knowledge is available to any guest, absolutely free.

A great concierge is the gatekeeper to their city and is the key to unlocking exactly the experiences a guest at their hotel is after. They are the ultimate insider. They’re a great place to start for personalized suggestions and advice on tours and outings. As they are specialists in their city, you can expect a pretty solid and tailored piece of advice.

I can’t tell you how many times hotel concierges have helped with arranging hard-to-get Michelin starred restaurants from places in London or Tokyo to reserving hard-to-snag tickets.

Best of all? That extensive knowledge is available to any guest, absolutely free.

Concierges engage guests in a variety of ways. From helping with basic necessities, like finding parking spaces or getting directions, to planning the entire duration of a stay to helping you find a power adapter to your electronics that you forgot at home. If you have an unusual request, like trying to hunt down a certain gift to take back home, a concierge can save you a wealth of time and help find the best in class. They can even arrange to buy it on your behalf.

Know that an experienced concierge won’t be fazed even by unusual requests, so don’t be shy about asking for help. If they don’t know the answers themselves, they’ll have an impeccable contact book to find someone in the city who does.

My best advice is to call in advance and share your itinerary. The concierge is a local and can tweak your activities in a way you cannot. And, keep in mind the higher rated the hotel, the more well connected the concierge.

 

Know of other costly services and an alternative?

Let me know on instagram!