The first time you visit a new city can be exciting and equally terrifying. How do you know where to start?
My first priority when I get to a new destination is to get settled and come up with a game plan as to how I will spend my time. I’ve got serious FOMO and hate the idea of missing out on something cool. So here are some tips on how to get started on the right foot in a new city!
1. Check into accommodation & connect to wifi
*Steps off train / bus / plane / hovercraft*
I’ve probably been traveling for at least a few hours, so instincts kick in: Find shelter. I generally make sure to have the adress saved in a note or screenshot the step-by-step directions.
*Arrives to accommodation*
Drop bags. Curse gravity and wish for the millionth time I hadn’t packed those extra shoes. Find restroom. brush teeth. Do girly stuff like fix the mascara that is inevitably all over my eyelids. Tour the hostel / Airbnb, see what I’m working with.
Connect to wifi, confirm my safety and wellbeing to my parents (don’t forget to do this! there are people at home who care about where you are and that you’re doing okay). Check email, cause bitches be popular. And by that, I mean I’m subscribed to far too many Groupon, LinkedIn, and flight deal email lists.
Even if I arrive at my accommodation before check-in begins, generally speaking they will allow guests to leave bags in lockers or in storage (although sometimes for a small fee). It’s way better than lugging them around all day.
2. Find nearest coffee shop / grocery store / market
Coffee shop – because normally hostel coffee is instant sh!t, and second because my favorite mornings normally start with a long walk followed by a latte. Generally I will ask the hostel staff for suggestions for this, or look it up on Trip Advisor / Yelp.
Depending on the state of the self service cooking situation at the hostel and how long I’ll be staying there, I’ll head to a market or local grocery store to stock up on basic stuff I need to eat like a normal person. This probably includes fresh veggies, eggs, noodles or pasta, and fruit. I really don’t believe backpackers should have to live on cereal and Nutella toast like hostels provide for breakfast and garbage frozen pizzas from a chain supermarket. You can look forward to a documentation of my #snackhacks when I get to Portugal in a few weeks 😀
Having food waiting for me when I get back from a long day of exploring helps me relax and not worry about what’s for dinner – it’s sorted, and I can enjoy my day without stressing about blowing my food budget.
3. Take a free walking tour
… Or a budget-friendly walking tour designed for backpackers. Most hostels have agreements or partnerships with daily free walking tour companies. It’s a great way to:
- Get an over view of the history/ landmarks of your destination
- Give you an idea of geographic layout of the city
- Figure out what sights / attractions / neighborhoods you want to spend more time in
- Meet fellow travelers – I’ve made tons of friends on these tours!
If I’m in a major city, the free tour will generally be with a company called Sandeman’s. Their guides are freelancers, meaning they don’t make money on ticket sales (since they’re free) and are therefor incentivized to give you the best tour to earn tips. I’ve never had a bad tour with them, and always feel happy to tip the guide based on the experience I have. Did I mention they’re free?
That’s just a few easy and basic tips on how to get started in a new destination! What are the first things you do when you arrive to a new city? Comment below!