Do you know anyone who has already traveled to your destination? If not, put the word out to your friends and family asking if they know anyone who has.

When you find someone who has been where you’re going, contact them. Call them, email them, or take them out for coffee or lunch. Ask tons of questions. Have questions ready before you go see them or call them on the phone. Have a pen and paper with you. You can be sure they’ll have some wonderful suggestions for you on “must see” places to check out.

Generally you’ll find that people love to help you, if only they know what you’re looking for.

Let’s make this even easier and break it down into steps:

1. Ask friends and family if they know of anyone who lives in, or has traveled to, your destination.

2. Don’t have a phone? Email. No computer? Libraries and internet cafés are fantastic resources.

3. Before contacting them, make a list of things you’d most like to know about the area.

4. When you call, have pens and a pad of paper with you, so you’ll be able to take notes.

5. Have a guide book (or website) of your destination on hand when you speak with your contact. This way, when they mention local landmarks, transportation companies, etc., you can easily refer to them.

6. Have a detailed map of the area to use as a reference while talking. (You can usually find several inside your travel guide or online.) I always get the best ideas from fellow travelers, including information about places I would otherwise never know about, because they are usually down some hidden trail or off the beaten path.

7. When you contact them, introduce yourself and ask if this is a good time to speak about your trip. If it’s not, set a date that is convenient for both of you.

8. It’s nice to treat your contact to coffee or lunch as a way of thanking them for their time and help. Muffins or cookies can also be a huge hit!

9. Following up with a thank you card after your meeting is a simple and wonderful way to show someone you appreciate their time and their help. Or you could ask for their address and send a postcard when you reach your destination. Who doesn’t love real mail in their mailbox these days? It might just make someone’s day shine brighter.

“Small kindnesses make a difference – they have echoes out of proportion to the effort they take.”
Sue Bender

Other options:

Here’s a website where you can explore the world through user-created videos. You’ll find all kinds of information here, including professional content and tourist board clips.

This fantastic website is a place for travelers to interact with each other. It has the latest travel news, travel links and tips. You can even share your travel photography or information about your trip here.

And of course there’s always Lonely Planet.

Another option is to join a group, or create your own to learn about insider’s secrets.

I hope these tips have helped you out. Have fun and travel safe!

By Kristine Polley

© Adapted from Lipstick & Luggage: Ease Your Pain When Traveling! How To Get Organized & Stay Safe

Author's Bio: 

The above is an excerpt from a new women’s travel book called Lipstick & Luggage: Ease Your Pain When Traveling! How To Get Organized & Stay Safe, by Kristine Polley. It’s chock full of tips, insider’s secrets, and travel-related tales of Kristine’s crazy adventures while working onboard privately owned Megayachts. Now launching at: