Growing up my family vacationed in the same spot, year after year (and they still do!) – each summer we spent 1-2 weeks on Hatteras Island in the Outer Banks, bouncing between a few houses in a row right on the ocean. It was consistently the highlight of my summer and Hatteras remains one of my most favorite places on earth because of the amazing time spent there with my family and the memories that have been made in the same beach house over the past twenty years.
Recently something changed for me though, I’ve been stuck with an intense craving to see more and more new places. To adventure rather than vacation – there are few things better than stepping foot in a new city. It’s a moment full of possibility of things to do, places to see and people to meet, and the right mindset is often what shifts your perspective from overwhelmed to excited.
A few tips for shifting your mindset from tourist to explorer and creating a trip that’s uniquely you:
Ditch The Plans: Don’t over-schedule your trip and lock yourself into a rigid itinerary. You’ll end up rushing from place to place and creating unnecessary pressure on yourself. Traveling should be breaking free of the schedule and your every day routine so go ahead and ditch the plans and instead soak the city in as new experiences come up. Out seeing the sights and get tired? Take a break at a local cafe and grab a window seat. Don’t have a full day to dedicate to a museum? Do a little research ahead of time and instead only focus on the exhibits you truly love.
Choose Comfortable Clothes: Packing the right clothing and shoes can make a huge difference in your happiness and comfort level while traveling. Choose breathable fabrics and pieces that can be layered for easy temperature control and stick to a neutral color palette when packing so everything can be easily mixed and matched. Bring only comfortable footwear that’s practical for walking and avoid heavy jackets or bags that can weigh you down while you’re out and about.
Prioritize The Sights: Remember that you don’t need to see everything in one trip! Pick which sights are an absolute must for you based on your own personal interests and preferences and tackle one or two a day while leaving the rest of the day unplanned. Sightseeing is wonderful but often crowded and very different than the vibes and culture of the city as a whole.
Act Like a Local: Instead of surrounding yourself with other tourists, observe what the locals are doing and try to experience the city as they do on a daily basis. Spend an afternoon shopping the farmer’s market for fresh fruit, hang out at the local pub and see if you can spot the “regulars”, grab a bite to eat from a food truck or street vendor or spend time reading the local newspaper in a park. Doing and acting like a local will make your experience more genuine to the city while also avoiding the stresses and exhaustion of sightseeing.
Strike Up A Conversation: The people are what make each city truly amazing and the locals are the best resource for recommendations on what to do while traveling. Don’t be afraid to spend a little extra time while dining and strike up a conversation with your waiter or a person sitting next to you. Ask them about their daily lives in the city, find out where their favorite cafe is, get the scoop on the best place to watch the sun set. After your trip is over you’ll have deeper memories and stories from your interactions with others than you will about the huge landmarks that have already been seen by so many others.
What are some of your favorite ways to explore a new city? Anyone have a trip booked to travel to somewhere new?