Nice, France. Wake up and smell the cappuccino: bloggers are the travel experts of the twenty-first century.

Vincent Chase didn’t leave Queens without E, Turtle, and Johnny – so why would you relocate to a new city without an entourage? One of your most important pre-departure rituals should be assembling a team of local expert blogs you can turn to for the latest scoop. 

The internet is filled with voices; from obnoxious tween YouTube trolls to brilliant TED talk visionaries, you can find a defense of any perspective and a how-to for any question with one Google search.  Though not so easy to sift, the reward of locating voices and information that truly speak to you is unparalleled.  That’s why RSJ suggests that all travelers assemble their own blogtourage—or entourage of bloggers and authors that speak to your region/interests—for easy access to the wisdom you crave.

Guidebooks are updated annually if you’re lucky, and Michelin stars are slowly morphing into black holes.  Who knows the restaurant scene better in Mumbai than a blogger on the ground?  When you find a writer with tastes and perspectives similar to your own, the opportunities for exploration are endless.  While you may not always agree with their picks, you will certainly find a current starting line for restaurant recommendations.  You can stay on top of new openings, hot events, and the best menu picks with a quick scroll through the blogosphere.

Stay up-to-date and entertained with the hilarious voices of local experts (like our very own Emily Holland at Red Scare Blog).

This wisdom is obviously not limited to the realm of haute cuisine.  Are you a fitness guru moving to Barcelona, a music junkie heading to London, or an environmentalist in South Africa?  You can find a local expert blogging their way through the gyms, clubs, and jungles anywhere.  The trick is to assemble your bookmarks before you leave, arm yourself with preliminary information, and then test their recommendations.

We suggest patrolling the high seas of Web 2.0 for a few weeks pre-departure.  Find bloggers in your new destination with niches that fit your interests, and then do your homework.  Ask yourself these important questions:

-       Do they have a large readership, and if so, is it an engaged one?

-       Does their “About” page suggest credentials that support this expertise?

-       How long have they been blogging?

-       Is there anything in the articles to suggest that they’re being compensated for their opinions? (ick)

You may not have Ari Gold by your side (thankfully?), but a stocked RSS of bloggers with strong credentials will keep you up-to-date.

How do you locate these voices, you ask? That’s easy.  Do a quick google search for your city + your niche + “blog.”  You may even find a top ten list pre-assembled.  Another incredible resource for seeking out new voices is Twitter.  Chances are, a hot blogger has a Twitter following that falls on his or her every word.  Do a quick search for your city and keywords; you won’t be left empty-handed.

Load up a list of the bloggers that pass your test, and make it a daily mission to scroll through their latest finds.  You’ll go from frightened newb to society pro in no time with the most vocal critics in the city by your side.  Who knows? Perhaps you’ll even cross paths with this local celebrity someday, or better yet, maybe you’ll be on their blogroll.

Just in case you were wondering, RSJ is willing to share a few of its favorite travel and regional expert blogs here: 

For general worldwide coolness in all spheres – The Cool Hunter
For the best cuisine in the food capital of Singapore – Lady Iron Chef
For becoming a local in South America – Tourist 2 Townie
For the best (and worst!) of Russian fashion – Red Scare Blog
For worldwide luxury news and reviews – Just Luxe
For up-to-date African music trends – Shakara
For exploring Hong Kong like a socialite – Lifestyle Asia: Hong Kong