Here’s a quick list of things we recommend doing once you touch down in a new city. If you’re like us and choose not to plan much (or at all) before getting to the destination, these tips will get you settled without wasting any precious time and start your trip on the right foot.
1. Find a place to stay near central transportation
Most of our travels involve showing up in a city without a place to stay. Once we arrive, we’ll get a feel for the town and book something on Airbnb, Hostelworld, or Booking. We stay at hostels, hotels, and Airbnb’s equally as often, although for short trips (1-3 days) we go with hotels- you can leave your bags if you arrive early and the concierge will go over a map with you…leading me to step 2.
2. Get a map
Get one from a hotel (any hotel, even if you’re not staying there) or an information kiosk. Yes, it’s touristy to carry around a map but it’ll save you time and keep you from getting too lost.
3. Put on your walking shoes
Get ready to explore! Being from Manhattan, we’re used to walking many miles a day but if you’re in a place with cobble stone streets, lots of hills, or uneven roads (i.e. anywhere fun) we always make sure to put on some extra comfy shoes or boots. We prefer walking and biking around new cities because we get a feel for what it’s really like to live there so it’s common for us to spend 4-8 hours just walking around and checking out different neighborhoods.
4. Fill up your water bottle
I always bring an 18 oz. Hydro Flask on trips. Hydro Flasks aren’t particularly light and there are some really cool collapsable bottles out there so get whatever works for you. Of course, you won’t always find a place to refill a water bottle and you’ll have to buy disposable bottles- unfortunately it’s just part of traveling. We often don’t realize how dehydrating travel is, so please remember to drink water (and no, beer doesn’t count…even if you’re in Brussels). I’ve had too many trips ruined by dehydration headaches that turn into migraines so just remind yourself to drink water every time you sit down and carry a water bottle with you if you’ll be walking for more than an hour or go on a day trip.
5. Look up tipping culture in your area
You don’t want to offend anyone by not tipping appropriately and it’s also no fun to be at a restaurant with no wi-fi wondering if you need to leave some change. Spare yourself the anxiety by looking up tipping culture once you land- it’ll make all your transactions easier.
6. Talk to people!
Talk to locals. Talk to tourists. Traveling is about making connections, learning, and experiencing new things. Take advantage of every moment you’re fortunate enough to get.