When I travel, I like to experience a place on a deeper level. More like a local, less like a tourist (though there is nothing wrong with being a tourist—trust me, I do that, too! [link]). The best way to engrain yourself into a city’s local culture?
Go for a walk.
Just set out. Walk out of your hotel or Airbnb. Put the map away. Ignore Yelp or Foursquare or whatever app you might normally lean on. Just go down the streets because you think they look good. Go where the day takes you.
My first stop (and probably yours!) is almost always for a cup of coffee. Somehow, there always seems to be the best coffee shop you’ve ever seen in the next block. You will stumble upon the little diners and cozy wine bars. You don’t need 35 reviews from strangers from Arizona to Peoria to Vietnam telling you where you should get a cup of coffee. Figure that out on your own.
Since the beginning, going for a walk has always been a part of how I approach filming a show. I hit the street and feel how neighborhoods change from one to the other. This always takes me to where people actually live and not necessarily to the tourist squares and attractions.
Create a daily ritual.
Want to take this a step farther? If you’re in a place for a few days, create a daily ritual. I know a lot of people think they don’t want to visit the same place twice, and I get that, but creating a ritual in a new city is a way to get centered. It really only needs to take 20 minutes. Whether it’s the coffee shop in the morning or afternoon (or both!), enjoying a glass of wine on your patio, the reading of your emails at the same park bench, just that sense of really slowing down time will actually enhance your travels. Most of us feel really bullied by time in travel and in life. That’s how I try to get that time back and be in the moment. Try it. I think you’ll like it!
How do you like to connect to a new city? Share in the comments! PS Here are more of my best travel tips.