How Do You Do It? (Part 2 – What to Do When You Arrive)

The first few days in a new city or new country are the most exciting.  I’ve developed a pretty standard routine that works for me to get settled in.

  1. Walk Around. On my first day, I typically don’t plan any activities. I just walk around. I find a coffee shop or park, and I sit and watch. If I only have one or two days in a city, I will not do any museums or tours or anything but walk around. I do like to have a map in addition to the google maps app on my phone, so I can find my way home. Also, I make sure I have the address of the place I am staying.  If I know I am going to be staying in the town or city for awhile, I like to scope out the best coffee shops and grocery stores.

    2014-01-20 15.29.52

    Walking around my first day in San Jose, Costa Rica

  2. Find the Highest Point in the City. I got this tip from another travel blogger, and I think it’s brilliant. Whether it’s a hike up a hill or an elevator ride up the tallest building, getting a birds-eye view of the city can help you to get your bearings and decide what else you want to see.

    Tallest building in the city:  Eureka Skydeck 88, Melbourne, Australia

    Tallest building in the city: Eureka Skydeck 88, Melbourne, Australia

  3. Find out the local food, drink, crafts, wildlife, activities, etc. I want to know what the national drink is. Is there a local delicacy? Do the locals really eat it or is it served for tourists? I was surprised to learn that most Peruvians do not eat alpaca (this meal is geared toward tourists), but they do frequently eat guinea pig (cuy).
    Ceviche, a Peruvian dish much tastier than cuy.

    Ceviche, a Peruvian dish much tastier than cuy.

    Are there animals here that I can’t see anywhere else in the world?  What silly souvenirs or unique crafts can be bought here?  Finally, I want to know if there is something I can do there that I cannot do anywhere else in the world or something I have never tried.  What makes this city unique?  Volcano boarding, visiting a jaguar rescue, seeing the world’s smallest orchid, walking through the largest gold museum in the world, or jumping off a bridge…let’s do it!

  4. Get a new cell phone SIM card. With my unlocked iPhone 4S, it has been easy and cheap (less than 10 bucks) to get a new SIM chip in every country. It is convenient and affordable to have a local phone number, for both keeping in touch with new local friends and for booking future travel.  At this time, I also like to find out and program into my phone the local 911 emergency phone number.

    For $5-$10 I can get a chip for my iPhone and a local phone number

    For $5-$10 I can get a chip for my iPhone and a local phone number

  5. Take a walking tour or a bus tour. Many people are dead set against organized tours, but I actually enjoy them. Especially with a walking tour you can get a taste of the best sites in the city, and make plans to go back to spend more time there later. I like to take a map on the tour and highlight the route, so I can find places again.  If I don’t want to do an organized guided tour, I will find a self-guided walking tour online.
    Self-guided walking tour of Lima, Peru

    Self-guided walking tour of Lima, Peru

    In a guided tour, I will try to get to the front of pack, so I can listen carefully and ask the guide questions. I almost always ask the guide where they eat.  I remember after a walking tour in Florence, Italy, I asked the tour guide where she ate, not where she recommends the tourists go.  She took me to an unmarked restaurant on a side street. It was one of the best meals of my trip. After my walking tour in La Paz, Bolivia, I offered to take my tour guide out to lunch, where I was able to ask all the things I wanted to know about Bolivia from the politics to dating to reality TV to relations with the U.S.. I made an instant friend who I’m still in touch with.   Also, specialty tours can be fun, too.  I took a chocolate walking tour in Zurich, Switzerland, a horse and buggy tour in Cartagena, Colombia and a boat tour in Granada, Nicaragua.

    Horse carriage tour in Cartagena, Colombia

    Horse carriage tour in Cartagena, Colombia

So that’s my first few day when I get to a new place.  Tell me what you like to do when you get to a new city below…

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Categories: Planning, RTW, Solo Travel | 1 Comment

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One thought on “How Do You Do It? (Part 2 – What to Do When You Arrive)

  1. Pingback: You Got Questions? I Got Answers! | Living La Vida Laurie

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