I book flights, I search accommodation and then I googled ‘top things to do in….’. This is my go-to routine before every trip I take for as long as I can remember. But the problem with this is, Google isn’t a good traveller. Sure, it points you in the right direction for the big and obvious – but isn’t it the little and the wonderful that you are really after when you visit somewhere?

Bray Cliffwalk
Bray Beach

Take Dublin for example. Google will tell you to visit the Guinness Storehouse when you come to Dublin, and it’s a great experience – butΒ there are so many more places in Dublin to visit that would give you a perfect, authentic experience. Personally if someone was to ask me what to do in the city I would point them towards the seaside cliffwalks, the pubs on Camden Street, one of the many doughnut shops sprinkled around the city. These are all the things that I think make a great experience in Dublin, not a tour of an old factory of an alcoholic drink.

Hvar
Hvar

The best part about Hvar? The boat we rented that let us explore the water surrounding it. Rome? The thousands of side streets all with a hidden shops and buildings. Budapest? GellΓ©rt hill and the wonderful view it gives you of the city. These are all things that I stumbled upon while I was away, or were recommended through word of mouth and they were the parts that I remember the most.

Stradun
Stradun, Old Town Dubrovnik

Call me bias but I love reading travel blogs about peoples first-hand experiences in a new country or city. There are places that I have been turned off because these blogs tell me more of a behind the scenes story to the gorgeous Instagram pictures you always see, and there are places I would never have dreamed to visit that I am now dying to go to because of the amazing things I have read. Google is fine if you are okay with doing the top, bog standard tourist attractions in a city and these are usually great (The Colosseum is everything, and more!) – but there is so much more to a city than a really tall building or an impressive looking clock. It’s the little things that give the city it’s real character, and for me that is definitely something I want to try and experience when I go away.

What do you do before travelling? Do you read up on blogs, google the best things to do – or just wing it?!

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43 thoughts on “Why Google Is A Bad Traveller

  1. I also prefer to look at travel blogs before I go–Lonely Planet and TripAdvisor will just give you really generic stuff. I also usually take one of those free walking tours and ask the guide for recommendations. Or I meet up with people from Couchsurfing, if I’m not already staying with someone.

        1. I’ve never had that experience at all. I’m both a host and a surfer. My hosts have always been fantastic. My guests are usually amazing.

          I’ve never had any Surfers or hosts tell me they’ve experienced creeps either. Oh and it’s not a man thing because I have more female surfers at our house than male

          1. So when I innocently offer female travellers a place to stay that’s creepy? So sexist. I’m a gay man with zero interest in women. If the women who think all a friendly man is interested in is being creepy then that says a lot of sad things about those women.

            And before you attack me, I was born female and lived as a woman before transitioning so don’t judge this book by my cover.

            And if I ever offer to host you, sorry to have offended with my kindness.

          2. I think in this day and age I think it’s hard for anyone to trust people they don’t know. You hear of so many horror stories when travelling it’s hard not to feel vulnerable or look too far into a message you receive! Out of every 100 success stories you might only hear of the one bad experience with things like couchsurfing. Moral of the story is that you can never be too careful I suppose, but once it is working for you both the way you do it then that is the main thing ☺ x

  2. I generally only use Google for maps and so forth but many cities the maps are awful because they don’t show transportation links right. Istanbul is one great example (not all Metro stations marked). Other places they miss bus stops. But in places like Tokyo it’s great with Street View because it helps you locate restaurants in non-descript office buildings with ease. A bit of a mixed bag for me.

    1. Or when you use maps and they make you take two buses and walk because the direct bus is 2 minutes slower even though it’s so much easier. They give me bad information like this the whole time! It is helpful to find out more about big attractions and such, but it just misses the mark with the little gems!

      1. Very true. I generally like to do a lot of research before a trip, just to ensure things go smooth — but to also not miss something. It’s more work, but one way to look for things is to exploit Google Translate and do the searches in the local languages…

  3. Yes yes yes! I usually read lonely planet to see if any of the big attractions sound interesting, and it’s sometimes quite good in more out of the way places where it’s hard to find much other info. But mostly I follow locals or other travellers suggestions, or just wander at random – that’s often the most interesting. I think I use blogs more for general inspiration, e.g. ‘Albania looks interesting’ than specific spots to check out… not sure why really?

    Travelfish is the main website I’ve used for ideas for where to go once on the road, I don’t know if you’ve used it? It’s only South East Asia at the moment, not sure if they’ve got any plans to expand. I’ve had some brilliant suggestions from there, it’s really straightforward, accurate advice about what’s good, and often covers stuff that would be hard to find without their suggestion.

  4. Great post – while I often select destinations based on travel blogs (like yours), I am more of a spontaneous traveler. I may miss out of those events that require advance preparations, but thus far, I’ve stumbled upon some amazing experiences, and its so much more fun when there are no looming expectations to live up to.

  5. Still love travel guides. Always buy one for big trips. I wrote Frommers guides for 12 years but I was already a travel guide aficionado by then. I also count on google maps to get the lay of the land and read up on the local tourism websites for events and new things. Then I stop and just take my trip as it comes. Stumbling around a little can lead you to wonderful places and people.

  6. I usually do an extensive research and read tons of travel blogs, and just make a list of the things I don’t wanna miss out on. It helps me when I don’t have any idea on what to do, but also frees up my itinerary from rushing to one touristy place to the other and I stumble upon places I didn’t even know existed until then. πŸ™‚

  7. So true! I still Google ‘things to do in …’ But like you I click on the blogs rather that the tourist info sites to get a better idea. Nothing like talking to a local or some one who was been to find out the real deal.

    1. Yeah – I rely heavily on blogs these days for places that no one I know has gone before or can give me recommendations about. Reading about someones first hand experience can be so helpful!

  8. hey there! I often get inspired to travel places based on what I stumble upon on the internet or, back in the day lol, in books. Norway? My childhood fantasy from the most unexpected novel, The Witches by Roald Dahl. Sweden? Practically the same but my ex classmate is from there, and I thought that was cool so I looked at jaw dropping pics of Sweden on Pinterest. And if you’re interested, I’m off to Norway and Sweden this summer!
    Viviane x
    https://dreamtraveleat.blogspot.com.au/

  9. It’s like you read my mind! We are headed to Ireland this month and were JUST talking about the Guinness warehouse and were thinking of skipping it. And I agree – hidden gems are the best part of travel!

    1. Oh no way? Where abouts are you headed? πŸ™‚ Yeah I mean it’s a cool tour but it takes up quite a bit of the day and it’s all in doors.. the gravity bar which gives a view of the Dublin skyline is cool though 😎

  10. this is very cool! i defintely agree… i find that when you search for stuff online, i think that is when you end up missing on the small things/ the part of the charm that the place you are going to. I usually just wing – it. .. .but can also be not ideal because then i end up missing some of the big/ obvious stuff that i should probably do so i guess its about finding that balance : )

  11. I’m the exact same as you. Google shows you the big touristy spots, I want off the beaten track and hidden gems. As a food & travel blogger, I often get my recommendations on places to eat from twitter & instagram. I also LOVE reading travel blogs πŸ™‚

    1. I know yet I still always use google first haha! I find Instagram is great for showing you the most picture perfect places, but I have never considered Twitter before! Good tip πŸ™‚

  12. I know we say we google everything but in reality we are researching. At least that’s my case. I read blogs and reviews especially Trip Advisor. To know real people’s experiences.

  13. Totally agree with you about Google.. I try to do a generic top things kind of search first and then do in depth research by contacting locals if I have any friends there or at least try to ask the local store owners for recommendations when I am on the road.

  14. I love to research before I travel, and read all kinds of stuff – travel blogs, articles, guide books, even Google’s suggested ‘Top 10’. I think it all comes down to balance, and working out what exactly you want from your travels too… Sometimes, the best thing to do is to just go with a map and lose yourself in the small streets, or talk to the locals!

  15. Excellent post and very accurate! I’m currently on a long-term European excursion visiting places I haven’t been too yet. To be honest, I do a small amount of research beforehand online (via google or travel blogs) and then I typically take a free walking tour at the hostel I’m staying at! It gives me a chance to learn about the city, visit some sites I might not of seen while covering some of the bigger ones. This leaves the rest of my time in the city for exploring on my own to find those hidden gem spots πŸ™‚

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