Whether your a seasoned traveller or just starting out, navigating a new city where the streets seem complicated or the people speak a different language, whatever the reason, can be quite a nerve racking experience. I am the kind of traveller that enjoys roaming new places and the thought of getting lost in an unknown world is exciting to me but I know some prefer to plan ahead. So I have compiled a few quick tips to help guide you through this city of your choice.
1. Do your homework
Now I’m not talking about preparing a presentation on London and showing it to your family and friends, I am meaning read up on your destination. Work out what the major sights are or streets are so that way you can have a list of what you want to see. If you are on a sight-seeing mission, the worst feeling is missing something (believe me!).
2. Map it out
Once you have worked out what you want to see, the next step is pretty obvious… check the map!! When I arrived into a city in Europe I bought both a train station map as well as a city map. That way I was able to work out which stations a needed to get to for what sites. Getting a map is also useful when overseas as you can’t always rely on wifi to get you around or help you find your way. Go old school and be a tourist! Or if you are a new age traveller who can’t stand hoarding around bulges of paper stuffed into your backpack, screen shot the sights and stations when you are at your hotel/hostel, that way they are in your images.
3. Parlez Vous Anglias?
Not all countries you will visit will understand English so learn some of the local language. People will be much more willing to help if you approach them and at least have a go. This is much more respectful than walking up to someone pointing at a map and saying ‘how do I get here’ in a very obnoxious tone. Hello, please and thank you will go a long way with the locals. Best app I found for this was Itranslate, it not only showed you the word in both English and the other language but also gave you an audio for it too, made it super easy!
4. Embrace being Lost
So, you left your map at home, your memory is hazy as you drank a little too many cocktails the night before at the hostel bar 2 for 1. You have taken a wrong turn and you ended up somewhere in the complete wrong direction and all the signs are in a foreign language. Don’t panic is rule number one. My second rule is, embrace it. Being lost in a foreign city can sometimes be a blessing in disguise. Some of the best restaurants and bars can be found off little back streets.
5. Do as the locals do
This is more of a follow on from the first point of doing your homework on the destination, this can mean making sure that if you are heading to a Middle Eastern country during Ramadan you know not to drink alcohol or knowing that come of the best restaurants in Barcelona don’t open until 9pm once everyone has had their afternoon siesta. If you are unfamiliar with any custom or culture, ask for help, being respectful of the local peoples beliefs not only gives you a first hand cultural experience but in some instances keep you from getting into trouble!
6. Get on the travel train
What I mean by that is, don’t be afraid to get public transport, especially in the big cities. It will be the easiest and definitely most cost effective way to get around and explore. There are storied about how getting public transport can be dangerous but like most things when travelling, just be aware of your surroundings.
“Take only memories, leaving only footsteps”