Traveling is one of the main things that influenced me to start Provider. Seeing other cities, cultures, eating different foods etc is what changes your perspective – not just about the world, but about the way we live our own lives.
Many years ago travelling to me was seeing as many places as I can on a tight budget. It meant sleeping in a bunk bed with 10 other randoms and eating a piece of white bread for breakfast to fuel me for a big day of adventures and cheap drinking. Now, don't get me wrong I had the time of my life. However, almost 10 years on I have realised that I enjoy things a little bit different.
These days I love living like a local in a city. I love going to the trendy cafes, walking the little alleyways, even going to the old man pubs that have been around forever. Thanks to the likes of Airbnb and Uber, getting around and also literally living in a local's house has become super easy... Even more thanks to the likes of certain travel guides, it's become very achievable.
Every time I book a trip people always ask how I found out about all the wonderful places I go and my honest answer is a good travel guide. I am not talking about your stock standard one you pull off the shelf a Dymocks, I mean a book written by a local for someone who really wants to see the city in their eyes.
My top picks:
Monocle City Guide Series.
Every year Monocle bring more and more guides out about each city. They are amazing! They cover everything from fancy accomodation, to markets, temples, and secret speakeasy's, to ryokans, streetwear stores, local brands and the best coffee you'll ever drink.
The Monocle Guide to Bangkok is my favourite. After going there for years to see my dad, I finally picked one up and it shaped how I travel there forever. I used it to navigate through and now I have built by own tips and tricks from it.
Cereal City Guides
For those who love the beautiful things in life, Cereal have created the guides for you. I used the Copenhagen and Paris book to navigate through these cities. I saw things in real life that you'd only see in photographs, drank coffee in a tiny little hole in the wall and the barista turned out to be Australian, I stood in an empty Scandinavian church totally alone, which felt like a film. Even if you don't end up travelling to these places, they look great on the coffee table. Cereal Guide to LA is their newest addition.
Lost In Guides
These retro looking books are the newest fun and quirky pathfinders to recently hit the shelves. Written by locals in each city, they take you on a unique journey to essentially get you "lost" in their world. Full of galleries, hidden bars, burger joints, art in shipping containers, each one is certainly a special insiders guide of what they love most about where they live.
Other ways to find the best in each place:
Superfuture are one of the coolest virtual guides on the market. They played a huge part in the my first trip to Tokyo and also Berlin. They have an app and also a downloadable map. Ideal for the people who love designer and streetwear brands, unique bars and anything "hype".
I got given the Copenhagen Style Guide as a gift I used that to pull some great tips for my trip, especially in locating the best areas. Anna Peuckert wrote this book and also contributes to the site 12 hrs, which as the name suggests gives you a 12 hour tour on a city.
On Your Own
I don't plan my entire trip based on guides, I usually take some hot tips and build my own little guide around it but my god, they help a million! Another good tip if you're trying to find the "Surry Hills" or "Fitzroy" type area of a city I usually Google a store I love. This normally pin points you to an Area that is then full of similar shops, cafes, restaurants and bars.
Word of Mouth
When I was in Japan with my partner Matt a few years ago, we went to this little cafe in Shibuya called Me Me Me – it was recommended by a friend of a friend. When we had breakfast there (it was the only place open at 8am) the trendy Japanese guy working started up a conversation with us. Within 10 mins he was writing down names on a pad he was taking coffee orders on. This basically mapped out the rest of our trip as we followed his notes on each suburb in Tokyo and Kyoto.
One of the most memorable ones was when we walked for what felt like forever in the freezing cold to find this random little bakery. The family working spoke no English and us no Japanese, but we found ourselves eating French toast out the back on a big dining table with mum, dad, nan and pop and the kids, who were all sharing fresh baked bread. It was such a bizarre but special experience.
Ask your mates, ask your mates mates... and ask a local. They'll know.
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