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Arriving in a new city, whether for a business trip, short visit or big move, can be intimidating, especially on your own. You’ve got to find your way around, try to check off everything on your “must see” list and make new friends – typically in a relatively short amount of time.
Travelling solo requires persistence and a bit of luck. But there ways to make the transition a bit easier.
Do your research, for free! – You don’t always have to splurge for a pricey guidebook to figure out what to do. Head to sites like Wikitravel to get an overview of the geography, tips for getting in and around, attractions and even cultural cues –for free.
Ask your social community for help – Tap your network to see if you someone who has ‘been there, done that’. Chances are you’ll find someone who can at least offer a few suggestions and perhaps, even a new contact who can show you around.
Meet your concierge – If you’re staying a hotel, your concierge is likely to have lots of helpful information to get you started. Instead of checking in and moving on, stick around to get their recommendations.
Stop in the visitor centre – It may not sound like the best way to have an “off the beaten path” travel experience, but a quick stop in the visitor or tourist centre, you can stock up on free maps and get a few ideas on what attractions look best.
Save your favourite spots – If you want to remember places to go or try, save your locations in Google Maps, so you can check them out later.
Draw on your maps – As you start to get a better sense of your neighborhood, mark notable landmarks on your map to make it easier to find where you’re going.
Hit the major tourist spots – Heading to busy tourists spots toward the start of your trip is a good way to get a sense of where you are and learn a bit more about your destination. Plus, you’re likely to meet other travellers who can offer tips on what to do next or even, join you.
Hop-on, hop-off bus tours – These are another option for getting a quick lay of the land, especially if you’re pressed for time and want to fit in as much as possible.
Chat with locals – It might be uncomfortable at first, but you never know what you might learn if you reach out. Sometimes, you discover that locals are just as embarrassed to speak with you but making a connection, no matter how small, is what travelling is all about!
Keep up with your hobbies or find a new one – If you’re taking a longer trip or have made a move to a new city, it’s good to have a bit of the familiar. Use sites like Meetup to find people who are into similar hobbies or challenge yourself to try something new.
Find new experiences – Each destination has its unique experiences to offer. Apps like Crooked Compass make it easy to find the best adventures in your area, whether you’re looking for an adrenaline rush or just a great place to eat.
Go to Local Events – Joining in on local events helps you feel more connected with your new neighborhood. Check out Eventbrite to see what’s happening near you.
Stay with a Local – Instead of the typical hotel, why not live like a local? Sites like CouchSurfing or Airbnb can connect you with expats and locals who are willing to share their spaces and their experiences.
Take public transportation – If you take a taxi everywhere, it will be a lot harder to get your bearings, and it’s typically not very sustainable for the long term. You will feel more independent and pick up more cultural cues using public transportation.
Get to know your neighborhood with Use Google Earth – It’s great to get out and explore but if you want to start learning your new city before you arrive, try using Google Earth to get a sense of how it looks.
Say ‘yes’ to everything – You’re probably in a new city to start a new job, meet new people and try new things, so why turn down invites or opportunities? You may be tired but the more you put yourself out there, the more the universe brings to you!
Volunteer – Volunteering your time to help out your new community will give you a deeper appreciation for the area and the people who live there and is just another way to expand your circle.
Make your space your own – An important step in feeling at home in a new place is making your space your own. Even if it’s just a hotel room, arrange your bags the way you want them, unpack and hang up your clothes and try to make yourself at home!
Get out early – The early bird catches the worm! While it’s important to get rest, I’ve never regretting getting up bright and early to start exploring a new place. You’ll usually just wish for more time in the day, so get out there!
Be adventurous – You’ve already done the hard part by deciding to visit or move somewhere new. Hey, it’s not something that everyone is capable of doing! Don’t take your adventurous spirit for granted and keep pushing yourself to try more things and meet more people.
Don’t get stressed if it doesn’t click right away – Remember, you can’t expect things to be perfect in a new city – it’s all about exploring and experimenting. With a bit of trial and error, however, you’ll be sure to stumble into great moments and who knows, you might just find your home away from home!
Featured image: Depositphotos
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