In total awe at Sainte-Chapelle in Paris
We’ve all done our fair share of stalking on the internet. Some people stalk exes; some check to see if their high school bullies are fat and unsuccessful; others over-research their vacations. Thanks to the internet, you can find out pretty much anything you want, about everything you want. But that doesn’t mean you should do it. Because when you’re experiencing a place for the first time, the last thing you want to feel is déjà vu.
One of the main reasons why I started PLANE + SIMPLE Wander-Lost Mystery Travel Packages is because people are overstimulated by the internet these days. Places no longer hold the same level of wonder and excitement because people have consumed themselves in the details before they’ve even arrived. People even know exactly what kind of plate their Eggs Benedict are going to come out on, and what kind of toilet paper the restaurant uses. It’s too much.
Spontaneous Pimm's in the park(ing) lot in London
If you know everything about everything before your trip, you’re going to be bored. Trust me, I've done it countless times before. Let’s say you’re going to London and decide to research Tower Bridge ahead of time; you can literally take a 360° tour of the entire bridge and exhibition (including the views of London and the Thames) just on Google Maps. Tell me, are you going to be as impressed when you get to Tower Bridge if you already had a detailed virtual experience? No. So before a trip, only look up general information. Let yourself be surprised and in awe in a new city. Half of the fun is not knowing what happens next.
And please promise me that you'll never, ever, ever plan out every single meal at every single restaurant before you go. That is not how you experience a culture. It’s ok if you want to try some restaurant’s famous beef bourguignon while you’re in France, but leave room for other possibilities. Wander around and ask some locals where you should go and what you should eat. I typically grab a drink at a bar and make friends with the bartender. They always give me the best advice. Just don’t ask anyone at a corporate hotel; they’re just going to send you to the tourist traps.
If you want to skip small talk with the locals, try using my favorite restaurant website, Eater, to find some of the best restaurants in any city. Keep in mind that if you use Pinterest and Instagram to make all of your restaurant decisions, your food may be pretty, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it will taste good...
Faborit is a chain (which we didn't know at the time), but this one in Barcelona that we happened to stumble upon is like a secret garden. Best mochas ever.
You can do all the research you want, but I’m telling you, you’re going to miss out on something great if you meticulously plan every aspect of your trip in advance. Besides, the more you plan, the more disappointed you will be when you don't get the chance to do everything on your list. So let yourself get lost and immerse yourself in something new. Instead of treating a city as another place to cross off your list, put more thought into why you want to go, and what you hope the trip will bring. Then take on a city with that mentality.