Travel Tip: Tap Your Network

BreakingModern — Some of my most memorable experiences happened because I took the extra step to reach out to someone. Whether it’s a close friend, a contact I haven’t seen in years or someone I only just met, I’ve found that simply reaching out is the best way to make life-long connections. All of this comes into more focus when you travel.

The Social Network

Say what you will about Facebook, but its international reach makes it easy to stay connected. So, before you leave on your trip, search your network and figure out if there’s someone who you can meet up with while you’re abroad.

If we hadn’t reached out to my wife’s former co-worker on my recent trip to Japan, we would have surely missed out on the best sushi experience of my life. The restaurant was small and at the end of a long alley. It’s owned by a 90-year-old grandmother who still controls the kitchen — and the restaurant will definitely not be found on any tourism site.

Japan Sushi travel

My wife and I, our friend Yoshi, and the 90-year-old restaurant owner

Not only do these contacts know where you should spend your time, but they can answer any burning questions you have about their culture, customs and trends. For instance, I learned that cold sake (rice wine) is on the rise due to the European influence of wine in a glass.

Your far-flung hosts can give you tactful advice on what’s worth visiting, eating and seeing. We had three great meals in Tokyo, including an unforgettable dinner at Maisen. I specifically mention Maisen because eating there will raise the bar on what is good Tonkatsu, and I don’t know if we would have gone if our contact had not insisted.

I’ve found that asking your host where they hangout, visit or eat on a regular day (not a special occasion) usually provides the best answer. If they like a place or event enough to keep going back (and remember to tell you about it), odds are you’ll like it, too. They’ll generally respond with, “Oh, it’s not incredible, but it’s good and affordable.” That’s exactly what I want when I travel because I’ll end up with the authentic everyday experience of the culture, rather than the overpriced tourist trap.

It’s never too early to build these relationships, and social networks are a modern key to keeping in touch. If you like to travel, these contacts are worth their weight in gold. They’ve filled my life with lasting memories in distant places such as Singapore, Paris, Istanbul and Tokyo. Each of these places have been more memorable thanks to these friends, and I can’t wait to reciprocate by showing them around California, if they ever make it to my neck of the woods.

If you find yourself without any international contacts and about to travel there’s hope! There’s a slew of new social traveling tools like Couchsurfing, Travefy or AirBnB. If that doesn’t work out you can always try to make friends with strangers. There are some really good people out there — go find them!

For BMod, I’m .

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Author: Jamie

Jamie is a PR/Marketing consultant with particular expertise in social media and working with early stage startups. He is happily consumed working with the many aspects in which technology touches our lives. He's also a daily gamer, constant traveler, and avid sports fan who can't ever watch enough movies.

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