These tips below are so simple and appear to be quite obvious, yet they are often overlooked when planning the next adventure or vacation away. Keeping these in mind will keep you in the loop, as well as grant you more opportunities and options to consider, while narrowing others down.

1. Follow Local Blogs

Local bloggers are some of the best and most knowledgeable people to help you when traveling to a new city or country. Tap that knowledge by doing a Google Blog search and finding blogs covering the area you intend to visit. If you’re traveling to a large city, like New York, for instance, there will be hundreds of blogs, and so perhaps it is better to refine your blog search to specific neighborhoods or genres (NYC architecture, restaurants, art galleries, etc.). You could follow a larger publication, such as the Time Out New York magazine, but blogs connect you at a more personal level. If you decide to ask a question, an email or comment will generally have a response back to you in a short period of time, tailored to your situation. Comments on a relevant blog post may even have other members of that blog’s community chiming in, as well, and you may find yourself with way more than you expected in short order.

2. Update Your Facebook Status

We do this anyway, most of us, and many of us a gazillion times a day. Updating your status with even a generic “packing for my trip to Nicaragua!” may net you comments from friends that have been there before. They may offer suggestions, advice, foods to try, etc. Also, you never know which of your Facebook friends might have gone to your destination, so you may get feedback from people you barely talk to, which might never have happened otherwise. Updating your status doubles as a reminder for those you’d forgotten to tell about your trip, possibly saving someone the anxiety of trying to reach you without luck.

3. Tweet That Shit

Just like updating your Facebook status, tweeting quick little bits about a future trip may afford you responses from your followers. I’m not great at tweeting, but I definitely see the logic in it. It’s quick and easy, and you might reach friends who are always updating their Twitter accounts, giving you ears at any time of day.

4. Visit the Local Tourism Board’s Website

Almost every city and country that you will visit has some version of a tourism board. The official tourism arm of the city may have special deals and offers that may only be available through them, as well as other perks, such as free maps, an events calendar, etc.

Hint: Google “X Tourism” where “X” is the city or country you are planning on visiting. This is much better than googling “X Travel,” because the word “travel” will often cause Google to bring up results from travel guides, such as Lonely Planet. What you want is the city’s official tourism arm, and it will usually say that it is in the excerpt of the search result.

5. Register With Your Country’s Office

If you’re traveling abroad, it is a good idea to register with the appropriate government agency to let them know you will be going. For instance, in the United States, I would register my travel plans with the U.S. Department of State. This is not a mandatory measure, but a prudent one, especially if you may travel to areas with greater risks of disease or violence. By the way, that same agency will usually also have travel advisories and warnings for the countries it deems especially noteworthy or unsafe. Going to the website will allow you to kill two birds, and it’s all a free service.