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After having recently returned from a trip abroad, and my credit card sufficiently  maxed out, I only have one regret, that I didn’t know about Spotted by Locals before I left. I’ve never been one of those to thoroughly research places to go before I go on a trip. I’ll bring a guide book along and try and stumble my way into something interesting. Sure there’s recommendations from friends, maybe a little google-ing, but besides that I basically wing it. While guide books certainly have their functions: maps of every neighborhood, travel tips, and location context, they usually end up before more of a hindrance than a help.

After schlepping around my 10 pound book on Spain, my travel buddy and I just started ripping pages out of the damn thing so we didn’t constantly have to refer to our textbook of a sidekick.  The benefit and downside to guidebooks are they are written for everyone. There’s no niche interest and the age range varies. So as much as my parents might be into historical walking tours and my teenage self might love their section on mega-clubs, my current self was disillusioned by the material provided. Plus I hated the language they used to describe locations, it all started to feel like a slick advertisement. Suddenly everything was described as “sexy” and “wafer-thin”, I resorted to doing dramatic readings from the book. So when I met another fellow traveler who told me about Spotted by Locals,  I cursed myself for not discovering it sooner.

As the name suggests, it’s a site devoted to recommendations in European cites by the people who live and work there.  Like Broke-asses across boarders, they also fill you in on cheap and fun places that make you feel like a local rather than a bumbling voyeur. Featuring everything from bars, restaurants, and local festivals, SBL steers you clear of tourist traps and cheesy dance clubs. You can also download their mini guides for each city for 3.99 Euros that can be printed out in packet form or flipped through as a mobile version. And you don’t have to worry about carrying a guide that’s out of date, because their guides and site are being updated constantly. They really are a traveler’s best ally.

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So if you ever find yourself abroad, wondering how many “Irish Pub” cum Sports Bars the world really needs, don’t forget to just ask the locals.

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Laura S - Spendthrift Scribe

Laura S - Spendthrift Scribe

Laura S, left the "sixth borough" three years ago to settle in Brooklyn. After working at some daily rags, she now does writing on the side but still eats more Ramen then necessary. When she's not moving residences every 6 months, eating her way through every neighborhood, and trying every microbrew known to man, she is unsuccessfully rediscovering home economics. With her binging days behind her, she's now exploring new projects and rediscovering the city that she loves (although is still prone to sliding on her knees during a Prince karaoke set).