Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Travel Planning : Coffee Shops + Cafes

I've been blogging a lot about travel this year so I'm just going to keep rolling with it and share some more. :D

For as long as I've been old enough to drive or go on road trips with my friends, I've loved planning trips. I honestly probably enjoy the planning more than the actual trip sometimes, simply because of the anticipation and all the possibilities of places to go or things to do. So I'd like to share specifically about how I find my favorite places to eat and drink (coffee).

1. Townske
After we pick a city or area to go to, I search that place in an app called Townske. I have referred to this app on here before, but basically it's a platform where anyone can make and share guides about different cities and their favorite places to go and things to do. It isn't always easy to search on there, especially if your destination is a common name, but it's a good place to start. So, for example, on our recent trip to Florida I was looking up places in St. Petersburg, Florida, but it also showed places in St. Petersburg, Russia. Just make sure what you're looking at is actually in the area you're going to or you might be disappointed. ;)

2. Instagram
Next, I search the city or area on Instagram, and I do this a couple different ways. I start by searching the city name and looking at the accounts and locations that pop up. A lot of major cities have Instagram accounts that are specifically for sharing coffee shops and restaurants in the area, so that's an ideal place to start. I look up the location and their Instagram account, if they have one, and scroll through the pictures and decide if it's a place I might like to go.

3. Google Maps
Lastly, I search google maps (or whatever map app you use). I don't usually search for places on google maps unless I'm in a pinch and looking for a popular chain restaurant or coffee shop.  The types of places I like to go to don't show up in a general google map search for coffee or cafes, so I find places on Townske and Instagram and then look them up and save them in google maps for easy look-up and navigating later.

Then, I take it a step further and save these locations in different categories. For general coffee shops or cafes that I might visit if I'm in the vicinity or just looking for more options, I simply save it with a yellow star. For places that I for sure want to visit, I save with a pink heart. If I find a cute park or building to go to or something to do, I save it with a green bookmark. And for other random locations I want to save that don't fit in any of those categories, I save it with a blue square.

To give you a better idea, this is a view of my google maps for our vacation in Florida last week:
We didn't go to near all of the places I saved, but we had plenty of options when we were looking for something to do or a place to eat.

Narrowing It Down
I'm usually pretty picky about the places I go. Especially in big cities, the options can be pretty overwhelming, so I try to find places with decor and design that particularly appeal to me. I like to go to places with white, minimalist, unique design, and when looking for coffee shops I'll always choose the place that does latte art. Now, let me explain why I choose places like this. In my opinion, coffee shops and cafes that are thoughtfully designed are an experience in themselves, the atmosphere and people there are inspiring and refreshing. And if they serve their drinks with art they usually have better tasting coffee and it means your latte was made correctly (no foam, PLEASE). It's helpful to come up with your own expectations of places you want to go and why. It doesn't have to be complicated, just what interests or appeals you.

I hope this was helpful! If you have any trip planning tricks I'd love to hear them. And do you gravitate toward a particular kind of cafes and coffee shops?
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