When it comes to travel, there's one thing that has always been high on my priority list. It's not seeing as many places as possible. It's not visiting all the traditional tourist traps. Sure, I might end up doing some of those things in the process. But when I visit a place for the first time, what I really want from my travels, is getting a real feel for the place I'm in. I hate to use a word like authentic, but it's the closest one I can use to describe the kind of experience I'm searching for. I want to feel like I'm experiencing a taste of what life is like in a place. To go where the locals go for the best food and see the stuff that makes a city or a town tick. Like travelling with an insider who can show you all the best spots.
First of all, I want to say that I'm in no way being paid for this (unfortunately). If you've followed my blog for a while now, or you've spent more than 5 minutes on my Instagram, you'll already know that I've been a fan of Lonely Planet for a long time. For almost ten years, I've been relying on one of their guides to get to know the place I'm visiting. From their small pocket guides, to the heavier volumes that I prefer, they help me figure out a place before I'm there. I'm definitely not the sort of person for set itineraries or sticking to schedules. But I am definitely the sort of person that likes to do my research before I go! And with Lonely Planet, I feel I can start to discover the kind of hidden places that I'd only find if I was visiting with a local.
My Lonely Planet love affair probably started back in 2011 when I spent a few weeks travelling around the north of India and Rajasthan after graduating from uni. It still remains one of my most adventurous trips - the kind where you only book yourself into a hotel for the first night and see where the trip takes you.
In India, the Lonely Planet was our bible and my battered copy of Rajasthan, Deli and Agra is grubby, dogeared and covered in notes and annotations highlighting the places we stayed, the things we visited and great places to eat. Most of which came from the recommendations of the guide itself.
From rooftop restaurants in Jaipur to cosy cafes in Tallinn, Lonely Planet is always a great place to discover some of a city's hidden gems. Muust Pudel in Tallin (pictured here) was definitely one of those great finds. Having read the little excerpt in my guide, I thought it sounded like an ideal place to hide away from the cold for a little while.
Since a lot of my trips are fairly short now, researching before or as I go with something like Lonely Planet is perfect to make sure that I don't wind up somewhere not that great. Usually, I check out the recommendations and cross reference them with Instagram so I get a better idea of interiors and what the drinks or food is like. Especially important if you're on a press trip and know you're going to be taking lots of photos!
Written by travel writers with connections to each city or place, each guide is carefully researched and curated. From newcomers to old favourites, like the iconic Caffe Florian in Venice (where a breakfast cappuccino will cost you a bomb but will be completely worth it), their recommendations can help you find the ultimate places to see!
Plus they make for a great collection, documenting your travels all over the world and the amazing places that you've visited whilst there!