Visiting a new city can be daunting, especially if you don’t speak the language. But the point of traveling is seeing new places and experiencing other cultures, so here are the 7 things you absolutely should try to do when visiting a new city:
It sounds silly, but some of the most fun you’ll have is just walking around a city you’ve never been to before. Put your phone in your bag and focus on what’s happening around you, like people commuting to work, families playing in a park, or coworkers grabbing lunch. It’s also a great way to see what the city is like outside of the tourist zones.
BUT, before you go walking ask your host or the front desk of your hotel or hostel if there are any areas in the city to avoid for safety reasons.
Find a park
Finding a large city park is crucial when you’re traveling. Most of the time they have food carts or cafes where you can grab a light meal, spots to relax and people watch, bike rentals and most importantly: they are typically very safe.
Use the public transportation
Trying to navigate the underground or bus system in a large city, especially if you can’t speak the language, can be a terrifying task. But when you successfully arrive where you intended to you feel like a champion.
Ask a local where to go
Despite stereotypes or what others may say, people all over the world are nice (especially if you’re polite to them first). So whether you need directions or want advice about where to eat, they’re probably more than willing to help you. If they’re not, just ask someone else.
Traveling is a great way to work on overcoming shyness or work on developing your communication skills, mainly because you’re getting to practice on people that you never have to see again.
Learn the key phrases (and actually use them)
Phrases like “hello”, “thank you”, “I’m sorry”, “goodbye” and “I don’t speak (insert language here)” will get you far. Like very, very far. Even if your pronunciation isn’t correct, the fact that you’re trying will not go unnoticed.
Eat somewhere local
It is obvious to a barista or waiter that you’re a tourist, but if you’re polite they appreciate the fact that you’re trying to immerse yourself in their culture rather than following the advice of a brochure or map. Local food will also taste more authentic and be at more reasonable price because it is off the beaten path.
A travel friend can be someone you sit next to on a train or plane, or someone who is in the same excursion or tour group as you. Some of the greatest life advice or interesting characters you’ll meet are people you strike up a random conversation with. If they are locals they can also help you figure out where to go and what to do in a city that you’ve never visited.