After reading a recent article from Real Simple online, 10 Things Every Traveler Should Do, I decided to make a few adjustments based on my own experiences traveling around the US and Europe. Here is original author’s list, followed by my revision and commentary on why mine is clearly better.
1. RS: Savor every moment of your first few hours.
NG: CAPTURE every moment of your first few hours.
Take pictures of EVERYTHING AND save all your receipts, brochures, leaflets, postcards, etc. Amazing memories will rush back when you see them again! Memories that are only saved in your mind can fade but tangible mementos last forever (or until they are destroyed)!
2. RS: Embrace the prospect of being a tourist.
NG: Embrace the culture and do as the locals do!
Don’t do what tour guides say. Venture off the beaten path to get a more realistic experience. When in a foreign country, or another US city, I always get so sick of being around other tourists and honestly, I feel like I look like an idiot. It’s so adventurous and makes for a better story when you go down a back road and find a random hole-in-the-wall restaurant.
3. RS: Devour the hotel literature.
NG: Ask a local.
You had plenty of time (maybe) to brush up on all the travel guides before your trip. Now find out the juicy secrets from locals. Just don’t be a typical, annoying American tourist. Be insightful and ask questions!
4. RS: Run an errand for a friend.
NG: Meet a new friend.
Spark a conversation with a person in the grocery store. Meet up with local chapter members from a national organization you belong to. You’re bound to have connections anywhere in the world. Use your networking skills!
5. RS: Take in a performance or a sporting event.
NG: Do what you’ve always wanted.
Screw others people’s opinions of what you HAVE to do in a city. Say you’ve never been to a performance of Wicked, and there’s one going on that night in central London—DO IT. Don’t just go to something because you feel obligated, especially if it ends up being a flop you’ll have an even more sour taste in your mouth.
6. RS: Check out a bookstore.
NG: Check out a Starbucks.
Especially if you’re feeling homesick, definitely hit up Starbucks. I have yet to visit a city that doesn’t have one. You’ll feel at home and little more comfortable striking up conversation with the barista about information on the area.
7. RS: Ride a bus to the end of the line.
NG: Ride a bus to another town.
The end of the bus line could take you to the ghetto…where you will NOT enjoy your time. Pick a town outside the city and visit! I did this in Brussels with my friend Emily. We visited Bruges and it was absolutely gorgeous and quaint. Too bad we didn’t know people spoke Flemish there so we were corrected and felt like idiots saying “Oui.” I also did this with my Aunt Janine and cousin Jayda in London (we went to the Cotswolds) and friends Mo and Kendra in Berlin (we went to Oranienburg). It’s much more memorable and extremely BEAUTIFUL!
8. RS: Read the daily newspaper.
NG: Save the daily newspaper
Don’t just read it and toss it—keep it forever. You’ll probably forget you were in Rome Nov. 1, 2010 (okay, that was my 21st birthday so I’ll never forget), but having the newspaper will remind you of both the date and local occurrences that day.
9. RS: Go to McDonald’s.
NG: Get Chinese food.
Don’t be the stereotypical fat-ass American and go to McDonald’s, hit up a Chinese restaurant instead. Again, I did this a lot when I was studying abroad and visiting many countries. It’s a mixture of comforting and exciting—you kind of know what it’s going to be, but not really.
10. RS&NG: Get lost.
Well, okay I agree with this. I can honestly say I don’t remember a single museum or cathedral/church I visited in Barcelona in 2006 (Wait…was it 2005??), but I can definitely recall getting lost with Emily and talking to random street vendors and locals in my broken, horrible Spanish. We eventually found our high school tour group after a few hours, and you will certainly get back to wherever you need to be…eventually.
DO NOT BE SHY! Explore!
For more photos from my adventures, check out my Flickr account.