Researching a New Destination? 3 Reasons Why Forums Beat Travel Guides

If you have decided to work remotely in some far-flung corner of the world, one of the things that you will need to do is research your chosen location. However, while researching a destination in the past may have involved buying a travel guide and reading it from cover to cover, these days you will get far more out of your research by visiting some location-specific forums. Here are three reasons why.

1. Get Up-to-Date Advice

Forums are the best places to visit for the most up-to-date advice. A good forum will be updated on a daily basis by people who live in the destination. If things are changing or if there are important things to know about, you’ll find out about them on a good forum first.

This could involve issues such as the cost of living, the ease of finding work, new visa restrictions, inflation, political instability and more – all of which may have arisen well after the most recent travel guide was published.

English: Screenshot of the Forum Deutsch: Scre...

English: Screenshot of the Forum Deutsch: Screenshot des Forums (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

2. Find Expert Local Knowledge

The people who contribute to forums tend to be people who live in the destinations, and that means they will have expert local knowledge. No matter how specialised a travel guide is, there is only so much information it can contain.

In a forum, you may be able to find out about little-known bars and restaurants that tourists never visit, specialist knowledge about your favourite hobbies and activities that did not make it into the guidebook, and other nuggets of information that you just won’t find anywhere else.

3. Make Contacts

Forums are also a great way to make contacts before you even arrive in your chosen destination. By asking questions and contributing, you can get to know people and maybe even arrange to meet up with them upon arrival.

Who knows what else this could lead to? You may be able to find a place to live, a group of expat friends, some assistance when you arrive or even your first in-country clients.

Questions to Ask in the Forums

When you use a forum to research a remote working destination, you should ask as many questions as you need to in order to help you decide upon whether or not to travel there. These questions could cover:

- Average rents for accommodation, including details of extra expenses such as deposits, commission, and other hidden charges

- Details of popular expat groups and events

- The average cost of living

- Visas and regulations, including whether you need to get a work visa

- The ease of getting access to the internet

These are all key things to find out about before you travel to a country, especially the last point about internet access. Finding out these things in advance can really help you to make your decision on whether to go to a country in the first place, so look for a location-specific forum and start asking questions before you set up your remote office overseas.

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1 Comment

  1. Rebecca Byfield
    January 19, 2014

    All of these approaches are excellent. Forums are a great avenue for making contacts prior to arriving. They’re also a great avenue for making new friends when you already live IN the country. I had put my hand up to help newcomers to Saudi on a forum, and made some of our best friends that way.

    When it comes to researching a new location, my husband and I have very different outlooks. As a journalist and writer, I tend to read absolutely everything I can get my hands on – good, bad and ugly. I also get in contact with at least 7 – 10 locals and pick their brains for information. I find that having as much information as possible helps me to feel more in control of the move, as well as settle in faster once we actually arrive.

    The husband, on the other hand, goes with the ‘read nothing, turn up and be surprised’ method. He knows I’ll tell him a few important facts and pretty much leaves all the research up to me. When we first moved to PNG, I read everything including the CIA public profile of the country. Hubby didn’t even know WHERE PNG was located before landing in the country! I know whose method I prefer.


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