We’ve been on the go for more than four months now and something we have learned so far is the importance of taking advice from the right people. It seems obvious, right? Nonetheless it can be difficult to navigate between everyones advice of where to go and what to see: “San Miguel de Allende is so beautiful” “You’ll love Mérida” “Try that typical restaurant” “Take a Mezcal tour” “Trek a volcano in Guatemala” and the list of well intentioned advice goes on. And when you search online it just explodes with ideas of what to do and what to see.
We’ve seen ourselves at traditional restaurants, tired, hungry and definitely not in the mood for a Mayan dance show, but were there because our Airbnb host recommended us to go. We have seen ourselves in tiny beach towns we heard should be heaven on earth, but to us they seemed like ghost towns (I don’t get the fuss about Zipolite and Mazunte…). We have had coffee at coffee shops recommended on Social Media that could not manage to make a decent flat white (you know those places that get some hype and everyone recommends, just to recommend it?).
All pictures in this blog post are from the town Izamal in the Yucatán province, Mexico. A very beautiful yellow town, perfect for a day trip. Go there to see the stunning buildings and soak in the life of a little village. But don’t expect lots of coffee shops or fancy restaurants. It’s very traditional in that sense.
What’s wrong with some good advice?
Nothing in general. It’s nice to get advice as it essentially means that people care for you and want you to try things they love. I just want to emphasise the importance of taking advice from the right persons. I’m sure that our Airbnb host really thought he was giving us a good piece of advice when he said we should go to Chaya Maya in Mérida for lunch the day we arrived to the city. But he wasn’t and we didn’t realise until it was too late, because we didn’t ask him about the details.
Obviously we’re all very different and what I love eating might not be the same as what you love eating. What I find to be a great beach town might not be the same as you. The kind of hotels I like, may not be of your liking and so on.
Who should you take advice from?
People who are in the same situation as you
Do you have kids? Baby, toddler or teenagers? Or do you travel as a couple? Or maybe as a solo traveller, free as a bird? The circumstances vary extremely depending on your current situation. We have received recommendations for great restaurants that we wanted to try, just to find out that they didn’t open until 8 p.m. which is way too late for us (dinner at 6 p.m. is perfect with a toddler).
Do you suffer from any allergy? Then find someone with the same allergy and listen to their recommendations of restaurants. I am allergic to onion and garlic (and a bunch of other things), so eating tacos at the street food stalls is not possible as everything is marinated in salsas that contain onion. For someone staying in Puerto Escondido I can really recommend having dinner at Santa Fe as they are flexible in doing changes to the menu to meet the guests’ needs (find my Puerto Escondido guide here).
People who have a budget similar to yours
This is a practical and important one. People who have a similar budget will most likely also recommend places within your budget. E.g. a super low-cost traveller will most likely not use my recommendations for food as we typically go to mid-priced restaurants. I have friends who spend a lot more money on gastronomy than us, so I will most likely not take much advice from them since I know it’s way out of my budget. So having more or less the same money mindset is an advantage.
People with a similar lifestyle to yours
What do you do when you travel? Visit museums from morning to evening indulging yourself in the history of the place? Or do you hang out at the local coffee shops with a book in hand while you observe the other guests there? Or do you immediately look for the nearest gym to do some sports? We’re all different and when taking advice it’s crucial to taking it from people who in general enjoy the same things as you.
We met a Canadian/English couple in Puerto Escondido who had the same interests as us in general (Lasse met them at the local gym). They gave us tons of advice for our upcoming trip to Oaxaca and guess what? We LOVED it all! We could walk around knowing that the coffee shops they had pinned in my Google Maps would be perfect. That the restaurant they proposed was within our budget. Oaxaca was such an easy place to visit thanks to the great advice we had had beforehand. Oaxaca is just a wonderful place in general – read my guide here.
Ask for in-depth information
Okay, okay, I know I’m getting a bit too much into it now, but this is actually quite important. When receiving advice for a restaurant/coffee shop etc, then make sure to get information about the essential part: Why is it recommendable? Is it the food, the coffee, the interior, the atmosphere, the location or something else? I try to always write what we ate when I recommend restaurants here on the blog, that way you can decide whether it’s something for you too. Just saying “X restaurant is great” is not of much help.
We’re going to Guatemala (Antigua and Lake Atitlán) next month, so if any of my readers has advice you think could be useful for me, then I’m all ears! We already booked this place on Airbnb for our days in Antigua.