While traveling with the bookmobile is my full-time job, I also have what I consider a part-time job as a travel agent. After all, what kind of monster would I be if I didn’t take every opportunity to explore all the awesome places my job takes me? As the Digital Bookmobile team wraps up several projects that we have planned for the 2020 tour (be on the lookout for sweet new swag and exciting Instagram giveaways in the new year), I’ve been really diving deep into the planning of my time out on the road.
When I say planning my travel is like a part-time job, I’m not exaggerating! There are some nights I will scour what feels like every inch of the internet from the time I get home from work until the time I go to bed, carefully crafting an extensive and detailed excel document that includes all the best museums, coffee shops, parks, breweries and restaurants I can find. My method? Using Libby, Instagram, and Reddit to my advantage. Here are how these three resources help me plan my travel itinerary:
I love borrowing travel titles from Libby, especially because they can be downloaded for offline use to read on the plane. I have a few go-to searches I use to get me started, like specifically browsing by publishers such as Lonely Planet and Fodor’s Travels. These travel guides cover a variety of topics that can focus on specific travel destinations or broaden their scope to week-long road trips.
Once I exhaust those titles, I browse by all travel titles within subjects. This can take some digging, but I’ve found some incredibly useful books this way! Some of the books my library offers in their digital collection that I’m using to plan my travels in 2020 are Roadfood by Jane Stern, Road Trip USA: Cross-Country Adventures on America’s Two-Lane Highways by Jamie Jensen, and The Great American Ale Trail by Christian Debenedetti.
In an age where everyone carries a camera in their pocket, Instagram has made it incredibly easy to find unique places, delicious restaurants, and unforgettable experiences in just about any city. The trick to finding travel information on Instagram is all in the tags. There were some speed bumps when I first started using Instagram to plan my travel. I found out the hard way that by simply looking at posts in broad city tags like #sandiego, I would waste so much time wading through memes and ads to get to the good stuff.
The best way to search by tags on Instagram is to be specific. Instead of looking through the tag #sandiego with over 25 million posts, I now browse tags like #sandiegoeats, #sandiegofoodie, or my personal favorite, #sandiegobrewery. These tags have a fraction of the posts and center around food and drinks, making it less time consuming to find exactly what I am looking for. What I like about using Instagram to aid in my travel planning is that I can search for things by picture rather than text, which requires significantly less clicking than if I were to google “best restaurants in San Diego”.
Reddit is a great platform to connect with people around the globe that share the same interests, but when I realized that I could use city-specific Reddit communities to form a travel itinerary, it changed the game. Communities like /r/cleveland and /r/sandiego have a thread containing weekly events pinned at the top of the page, and if the community is engaged, pinned threads like these can be useful for finding classes, cultural shows, or special events. Other communities like /r/denver provide full FAQs on their pages, which house a collection of useful information about their city’s tourism.
After I go through those threads, I will then use search words like “travel” and “restaurants” within that Reddit community. This provides individual threads that might have more up to date information than an FAQ that may only change occasionally. What I love about reading these threads is that all the recommendations are provided by residents, who might provide insights on hidden gems that aren’t featured on travel guide websites.
By far, my favorite way to use Reddit when planning my travel is to post in the community myself. If I have a time constraint or I am staying somewhere outside of the city, a post detailing my general location and availability allows residents to make suggestions based off my preferences. This helps avoid activities that don’t fit into my schedule and ensures I get the most out of my visit. There is no question too specific or request too large to pose. Friendly neighborhood Redditors usually has an answer!
By the time I finish browsing Libby, Instagram, and Reddit, there isn’t much the city could offer that isn’t already on my list. These three resources give a great mix of ideas from other tourists, hidden gems from locals, and main attractions from professionals. All of the planning has gotten me so excited to start this year’s tour! I hope you are able to come out and see us in a city near you!