As we mentioned on our Instagram feed, several people have asked and encouraged us to explain who we are, so that people reading Trust the Locals know who’s curating the content and asking the questions. We were hesitant to bring our personal lives into this blog, because it really isn’t about us (it’s about expert travel, cool cities and cool people who live in those cities) but in the end, we agreed that it’s a good idea as we continue to grow. People like to know the “voice” behind the words they read, and this voice often helps them connect with the information on a deeper level. We hope that’s true for those of you reading now!
And now, a twist… the “we” in our posts is actually just “me”. I use “we” in hopes that one day, Trust the Locals will take off and I won’t be the only one contributing:) But for now, there’s no team; it’s just one person writing and editing. And by way of introduction, I’m Caitlin. I live in Denver. I’m a travel junkie, a scorpio, a journalism major NOT using my journalism degree (I’m a real estate agent!). And I had an amazing experience in 2015 that inspired me to start Trust the Locals. My husband and I were at a turning point in our careers, and decided to put in our two weeks and travel to Central and South America. We spent an amazing eight weeks backpacking through Guatemala, Uruguay, Argentina, Chile and Peru. We finished our trip at Machu Picchu. And then, when we returned to Denver, we decided we weren’t quite done with our travels, so spent another few weeks on a road trip, heading West, driving up the Pacific Coast Highway all the way to Bainbridge Island, before turning back to head home.
My husband was ready to come home. He loved our experience, but he was excited to get back to our friends, a routine, and eventually, a steady income. Coming home, however, was tough for me. I yearned to pack my bags and go again, but also felt guilty that I couldn’t simply appreciate the time we had. During our travels, I wrote a personal blog that chronicled our trip and our experiences- mostly to keep friends informed of our whereabouts (and to ensure our parents that we were safe). When we returned, I realized that I liked and wanted to continue blogging, but I didn’t want to awkwardly keep up my personal blog and randomly post after a long weekend getaway or a summer vacation. Instead of heading that direction, I brainstormed about the type of travel website that could be useful for other people- and especially for travelers like me. And eventually, I decided on the concept that is now Trust the Locals.
Trust the Locals is a resource that I needed while traveling. Because we didn’t have a ton of time to plan our trip ahead of time, most of our decisions about where to go, where to stay, and what to do were decided on a whim. We had a rough outline of the cities and attractions we wanted to see, but outside of two flights, a few hotel stays, and a week of language lessons in Guatemala, we were winging it. I often found myself arriving a place, not having done a lick of research, and resorting to TripAdvisor, Lonely Planet, Yelp and a few other review/rating apps to determine our agenda. Admittedly, it all worked out. We polled people we passed on the street, friendly staff at restaurants, and people we met at hostels. We got great advice most of the time (except for one day in Cusco when we got stuck on a 12-hour Inca Ruin bus tour).
I distinctly remember arriving Valparaiso, Chile and realizing that we only had two days there and we knew nothing about the city or what we should see there. We decided to pop into a coffee shop and steal the wifi to do some quick research… and spent a full hour trying to find a concise list- in English- that didn’t sound too touristy or predictable. I left more confused that when I arrived. I thought, wouldn’t it be nice if there were a resource for Valparaiso that was written by someone who lived here- and had good taste- and wasn’t a tour guide getting paid by attractions for their referral? And- perhaps most importantly- that was concise? It probably exists, but in an hour searching the internet, I couldn’t find it. So eventually, that’s what I decided to create. P.S. If you’re reading this and live in Valparaiso, email me! We don’t have a local guide yet!!
Since returning stateside, I find myself constantly thinking about my next trip. I eat up any travel advice that comes my way, research cool new hotel openings and trendy travel destinations, harass my friends the minute they return from trips, and rely on my ‘Credit Card Guru‘ friend Drew for money saving travel tips every chance I get. While I continue to feel wanderlust-y, I’ve found that the interviews I conduct with locals for the blog has satiated some of that wanderlust. I feel lucky that through these interviews, I get to learn about a new city often. I’m told about beautiful parks, bustling streets, cute specialty shops, world famous attractions. I feel lucky that with shared photos, I can close my eyes and picture myself at a UNESCO World Heritage site, at a coffee shop tucked away in an alley, at the hippest new restaurant in an unassuming neighborhood, or deep in a forest on a mountain bike with the sun shining through. That last one is a stretch… I’m seriously afraid of mountain biking. I hope that the local interviews make you- the reader- feel the same way- and help you navigate the city that you’re planning to visit. If you learn nothing else, learn NEVER to agree to a 12 hour bus tour of any kind, EVER.
I haven’t decided if I’ll post again from a personal voice, but hopefully this bit gives you an idea of who I am and why I’m doing what I’m doing. Please feel free to comment with questions. And if you don’t see your hometown featured in a post yet, send us an email. I would love to get to know your town and what makes it such a great place to visit.