first things first girl

Best of Tripfilms Twelve Travel Questions: First Things First

Over the last two years, we’ve interviewed 50 of our talented filmmakers and filmmaker teams. Here is a collection of some of the best travel tips, crazy travel stories, and filmmaking philosophies from these expert travelers.

We asked 50 filmmakers: What is the first thing you do when you get to a new place? 

We always try to get the lay of the land. Usually we try to find a local hole-in-the-wall pub where we can grab a local brew, get on-line and do our research. Research. So much more effective when paired with a cold beer, don’t you think? – Two for the Road

When I get to a new place the first thing I do is try to meet some local people, whether it be at the front desk of a hotel, a cab driver, or basically anyone. I do this because no matter how much planning and research I do beforehand I always trust a local to direct me to amazing experiences. – James Alexander Adams

Vân: Go out into the town for a beer. Morgan: I once went straight to a bar upon touching down in Edinburgh, Scotland. I had very little money and nowhere to stay that weekend and I wondered if buying beer was the smartest move. While at the bar, we meet a super nice young woman who said, “I’ll go stay with my boyfriend for the weekend. Here are the keys to my apartment and the address. Make yourself at home and just put the keys through the mail slot when you leave Sunday night.” – Nomadic Frames

I walk incessantly around whenever I get someplace, both to get a feel for the area, as well as due to my own excitement of being there. – The Expeditioner

Find a taxi :-) Get to our hotel and take pictures and video of the room before we put our bags down! Otherwise the room looks all messy in our videos ;-) – Eight Miles from Home

Check that there is no connecting door to the next room in the hotel room…. Yes, still obsessed about noise. Then usually get on a hop-on hop-off bus tour as soon as I can to get the lay of the land, a general overview and plot my trip. – Gary Bembridge

Find a place to leave my stuff, so that I can blend in better! – Etherium Sky Films

Eat. We love to eat and try something new right off the bat, and while we eat we discuss our game plan. – Rural Movement

We hit the streets. Try and get a feel for the place by going to a restaurant, talking to the locals, taking photos. We usually do a little bit of research before we go to a new place. Because we are both Vegan we always check to see if there are Vegan-friendly restaurants in the area. That way it saves us time from going from restaurant to restaurant looking at menus. – Mindful Wanderlust

Depends on where I’m at. In Europe I usually go find an espresso. They do it right over there. – Mike Corey

If it’s anywhere in Southeast Asia, get a massage. It’s the best way to melt away all the travel stress. – Alex in Wanderland

I look for a beautiful cafe to have a nice coffee and to connect to the internet. – Rubén Alonso

Wander around on foot and intentionally get lost. – Kristen Sarah

The first thing I do is try to take a bit of time to unwind before I start hitting the ground running. Also, I try to get my hands on a great map of whichever city I’m in. – David Hoffmann

Depends on the place, but usually I just get out and wander. I like to get a lay of the land, see what the neighborhood is like and…get a beer! – Joshua Johnson

Bounce on the bed! – Ryan Van Duzer

Just take a walk around, take in the atmosphere of the location without the camera. – Travizeo

Orientate myself. Walk around. Learn the lay of the land. If I haven’t already, I make sure I know where everything is in relation to where I’m staying, that way I don’t waste any time being lost. – John Piazza IV

Check local papers and speak with the people on the street. – Eduardo Gato

I feel like I’m always hungry when I arrive someplace new, so my first order of business is usually to find a good place to eat! – Gloria Powell

I like to drive around a get a feel for the area, scope out some places to film. Just being friendly and talking with people from the area helps a lot too. – Patrick J. McDaniel

As cliché as it might be if it’s a big city I take one of those hop-on hop-off bus tours. They are a great way to get a quick layout of the city and most of them have tickets that are good for two days so once you do the loop you can then keep taking it as free transportation to get around. – Cailin O’Neil

Meeting my friend from that place. – Josep Gutierrez

Get in a taxi, get to a destination + Drop my bags… Shoot. – Justin Weiler

Talk to the locals. Get the lowdown on the best places to eat. – Sarah Zareen

With kids, we look for a bathroom! Once we get to our hotel or campsite, and if we’re staying a few days, we’ll unpack and get settled. With six people we usually have to conserve our space so unpacking and figuring out what goes where makes things more relaxing and easier to maneuver. Also, we usually are out all day and get back late at night. Tammy and I are usually carrying one kid each so knowing where beds and clothes are lets us enjoy the evening more quickly. – Wesley Adventures

Walk around. – Andrew Kamphey

Seek out adventure! I always try to schedule in some free time to take a walk, wander around, do a little people watching, take a few photos, make friends with the locals, and explore. – Juliana Broste

Ask a local for the best place to eat then hit the ground exploring the neighborhood! – Jesse and Kimberly Moore

Panic, which usually comes in the form of shooting random B-Roll. When I’m shooting a series, music video, short, anything like that—I do tons of pre-production. I love pre-production. For a lot of low budget travel videos though, there is only so much pre-production I can do and even with that, the story or idea or concept can change. I’m always terrified (because it happens) that I’ll miss some piece of something that will fill out the whole video. Ok, I can see how I’m going to go with this, so why don’t I do this. I’ll answer the question really simply at first. Like saying, “I start shooting B-Roll”. Then if I’m unable to stop talking, you can just not listen because you’ll already have the bite. I just want to explain things because that was something no one did for me when I started and I feel even now it can be really hard to get people to actually talk about their process or their work honestly and with depth. – Bobby Christian

Step onto the street, calm my mind and compare the reality of the place we are in to the mental image I created prior to arrival. Sometimes they are pretty close (i.e., London) but others are way off (i.e., Yangon). – SPESUS

Eat. It’s the best way to dive into the culture and awaken the senses to a new place. – Gina DeGirolamo

Find the highest lookout point and the central market. – Gareth Leonard

The first thing I do after I unpack and shower is hit the streets and grab a drink. Whether it’s a glass of Champagne in Paris or a macchiato in Rome nothing says “Welcome to the neighborhood” like the local beverage of choice. – Monique Soltani

Figure out the quickest and most sensible way to get to where I’m staying. From there, I can orient myself and ask a few questions. I think you’re most susceptible to scammed, conned or being taken advantage of the first couple of hours of arriving anywhere new. – Kien Lam

The blogger in me says take photos and video. The traveler says, check out the bathroom and then flop on the bed. – The Planet D

As it’s often on a cruise, I explore the ship and try to get acclimated to the deck plan as much as I can. It’s always a fun time to see a ship that’s entirely new to me for the very first time. – Jason Leppert

I get my bearings and check for landmarks near the place where I’m staying. This always makes getting around a lot easier. I look at a map and make sure I have read up on the area I am visiting. Then go explore! – Adam Baker

Nap. Seriously. – Because We Camp

Unpack and go for a walk. – Eszter Vajda

Take a deep breath, smile and go on a run! I love exploring a city via foot. I do however wish that I could pack a bicycle so I could cover more ground. – Carri Wilbanks

Get local currency. – Travelista Teri

I like to just walk around the neighborhood, not take any photos or videos at the beginning, but just try to soak in the atmosphere and environment. – Mark Wiens

Go for a walk to explore and meet some locals. – Mick Hobday

Google for skate spots nearby for sure. – Gustavo Matias

We are usually starving when we arrive, so our first line of business is to get some great food! – Wander The Map

Walk around the area our hotel is in without any cameras or maps. Learn every inch because it’s your home for now. – Lost & Found Travel

We scout the neighborhood (in cities) or take a recon walk (in the countryside) for basics. Supermarket, WiFi cafes, water supply for the back, places to film. Figuring out the best backdrops or least crowded areas for the best shots. – Armando Costantino

I find a local market! Food, trinkets, whatever the locals frequent. Markets are the best way to tap into the pulse of a community or culture and figure out what makes the place tick. – Nathalie Basha

Well, we’re all different. Ebony likes to hit the ground running, in search of local fun. Onyx wants to find a meal. And Jeta wants to take a nap. – Global Lipstick