Planning a visit to any major city can be a very daunting task. You'll no doubt have a guidebook and a long list of the things you want to see to get a feel for the place, and this can be a stressful experience... and that's even before stepped onto the plane! The best way to explore brand new territory is to take the guesswork out of your visit to get an authentic sense of city life. Get together with a Showaround host who can show you what living in the city is really like. There's really nothing better than having a local show you the hidden gems that you would never normally find.
Take London for example, you could visit the city countless times and still only get to see the usual tourist traps and eat mediocre food in restaurants that are vastly overpriced and geared towards you... the tourist. This is fine if you want to see a superficial view of a city with burning feet from miles of walking and a hole in your pocket from paying tourist prices. However, if you want to experience the real buzz of a city, the living, breathing, soul of a place, then there is literally no better way to experience this than to be guided around by someone who knows the streets like the back of their hand.
An experienced host can open your eyes to a different world, quite literally. London can be an intimidating city to those that are not familiar with its sprawling streets and vast transport system. You can spend an entire day simply travelling the underground trying to fit in as much as possible, or you can have an experienced Londoner show you the top sights from their perspective; which are often not always the 'must-see' sights you see in most generic travel guides. Making this wise choice you will probably learn that many famous landmarks and sights are within an easy walking distance from one another, cutting out the need for transport altogether and saving yourself a few pounds to spend on interesting finds you might find along the way!
The main drawback of tourist traps is that they can be very expensive and also very busy. A local will be able to tell you the best visiting times for a museum or suggest alternative art galleries that offer no entrance fee. Spending a few hours (or an entire day if you like) with a host, you're going to experience what living in a buzzing city like London is really like.
You can tailor a tour to suit your needs too: if it's art and culture in London that you want to experience, then that's no problem. Others may just want to experience unique shopping and London is not short of cool, alternative places to shop. Tourist traps don't just centre around museums and shops either as some of the restaurants, snack-bars and nightclubs around Central London seem to exist purely to overcharge unsuspecting visitors. If you want a great night out in London, then it's worth finding a local host that can show you the cool, alternative pubs and clubs that only those 'in-the-know' would normally visit.
There's really nothing worse than visiting a city like London purely to tick a tourist check-list... Buckingham Palace check! House of Parliament check! This isn't to say that these tourist attractions aren't worthy of a visit it's just to point out that to truly feel the beating heart of a city you really need to see it through the eyes of a local.