Wed, Jan 11th, 2012 by VIE® Magazine
Whenever I travel to a new city I always have the same desire, to find the places that only the locals know about. Normally, it would take months of living somewhere to make a city divulge its secrets to you. These tips will give you a head-start to exploring a new city.
1. Pack Light - Taking less with you can open up so many more possibilities while traveling. Having one small bag will allow you to skip a lot of the lines at the airport and save you money on checked bag fees. Bring only the essentials, if you find you need something when you get there you can always buy it. Bringing less with you makes you more mobile as well. Walk to your hotel if you can and take the long way, you never know what you might find!
2. Leave Your Itinerary at Home – While it is human nature to plan ahead, you will have no idea what you want to do in a city until you get there. Being flexible means you can stop in that restaurant you passed earlier or go see that band your waiter recommended. The only schedule you need to stick to is getting there and getting home. Let everything else be an adventure.
3. Use a Map – By far the easiest way to navigate somewhere new is to pull out your GPS and get step by step directions. However we miss a lot of the experience when we take ourselves out of the equation. Using a map allows you to understand how the city is laid out in a way that your phone never can. Also it never runs out of batteries. Look for the side roads and green areas on the map. Interesting places and hidden gems are often located here.
4. Forget the Hotel - Not everyone can give up the luxury of a hotel, having your own room and bathroom is certainly nice. But for those that can, hostels have a lot to offer. Besides their drastically cheaper rates, hostels are a gathering place for fellow travelers. These are one of the best places to meet some friends, and since some of these travelers have been there before they can often tell you of the places you will never find in a tour guide.
5. Quick access to the Essentials – Need any important documents or files? Email them to yourself. Almost everywhere you might travel will have easy access to the internet for you to grab what you need. Traveling abroad? Grab a business card from your hotel or hostel and keep it on you. If you get lost and can’t communicate you can always get back by showing your card to a taxi driver.
6. Farmer’s Breakfast – There is no better way to explore a city than by foot. Sure taxis and trains might get you around quicker but you miss all the stuff in the middle, the part that actually makes up the city. Eating a large breakfast ensures that you have the energy to walk around all day, and you never know when lunch might be delayed. It is nice to start out with a full stomach.
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