When I was on a road trip last year for my honeymoon, I made the mistake of not researching what I wanted to see in specific cities. So when my husband and I would be discussing what time we needed to get up the next day to head out our next destination, he’d ask me, “So what do you want to do or see there?”
My answer? “I dunno.”
On our way into Atlantic Canada, our first stop was Saint John (New Brunswick).
We didn’t have a lot of time there (but we stopped to catch the Sea Dogs play!) and as we were driving and walking around, we weren’t really feeling the city. In a way, we wished we weren’t staying again a few nights later in the city on our way back into the US.
We drove the next day to Halifax and while we were there, I was trying to research places to photograph in Saint John on our way back.
I wasn’t having much luck in my research and I also don’t like touristy spots when I’m vacationing. I like to find local spots and interesting neighborhoods, especially when I have the intention to photograph.
I then had the idea of looking on social media. There must be photographers in Saint John, right?
I had the crazy (at least to me) idea of finding someone local online and messaging them for help.
I did and found Scott! I took a chance and messaged him. I told him I was struggling to find places to photograph and that I was looking to capture the spirit and feel of the city and open to any suggestions he might have. He replied back the same day and told me to check out Uptown which had great architecture along with a few specific streets. I thanked him and was excited to explore the city again with a local’s suggestions.
A few days later, we were back in Saint John.
While it was chilly for us Californians who didn’t properly pack for cold weather (like gloves would have been smart), we had a lot of fun exploring Uptown.
We ended up at the Loyalist house (it was so cold outside we were seeking shelter) and learned a lot about the history of the city from a guide who pretty much gave us a private tour.
We found some good food spots, continued to take photos as we walked around and as we got back to our hotel, we realized how much we ended up liking the city.
So my handy dandy travel tip for you is if you’re looking to find local spots to visit while traveling hit up Instagram. Search hashtags with that city’s name and if you find a local who takes great photos, send them a message to see if they’ll help you out by making suggestions on where to explore.
Not only will you get a local perspective of a place, but you may find yourself learning to appreciate a place the second time around.