Traveling today is demystified thanks to websites like TripAdvisor and Yelp. Sightseeing is no longer a battle of orienting a map or comparing menus on windows to find the cheapest restaurants. Our smart phones simplify the process; as long as we know how to follow a blue dot and count the dollar (or currency) symbols, sightseeing is easy!
My advice? Put your phone down, throw the maps away, and start walking.
(Admittedly, I only started abstaining from Google Maps because I was conserving my battery life).
Our smart phone culture removes immediacy and presence, two valuable virtues of traveling. More than likely, we’re in an unfamiliar city where the buildings’ walls tell stories older than our home countries. Look around and pay attention! Not every landmark is flagged with a large sign or rated on Yelp. While these reviews help us save time from hunting for the best deals, there is a great deal of experience to learn from exploring without technology.
Feeling lost? Good. Here are some quick tips to start your adventure:
Preview the city map before your exploration.
Safety must be still be a priority since you’ll be exploring uncharted territory. Give yourself a quick overview of the area you want to explore. Use common sense; try to get home before dark and keep your headphones out of your ears. Pay attention to the new world around you.
Set aside a half day to a day just to wander.
Kick off your day with an activity, like visiting a popular attraction. Leave the rest of your day open and experiment. Try finding your way home. Find a restaurant. Make a shopping list of gifts to buy for your family.
Go with the flow.
Spare change for street performers. Read street signs for cafes you didn’t plan to visit. Keep an eye out for street art and graffiti. Blaze your own trail in your city. Don’t worry if you miss the popular tourist attractions. Your experience abroad matters to no one else but yourself.