With the travel planning series coming to a wrap, I wanted to end with my top tips for on ground. Your trip is set, your itinerary finalized, and you’re en route to your destination. What happens once you’ve arrived?
Travel Planning Part 5: Tips for On Ground
It’s undoubtedly the best feeling — stepping off the plane in foreign lands. I get the same shot of energy every time and it’s hard to contain my excitement. Over the years I’ve developed a few habits and practices when I land somewhere and still to this day, I practice these. Take a look at my top travel tips for on ground:
1. Let your family/friends know you’ve arrived.
I do it every. single. time. I send a text to the family to let them know I’ve arrived. It’s important to your loved ones and general best practice that someone knows where you are when you’re traveling.
2. Settle in, refresh on arrival, and kick the jet lag.
When I arrive in the accommodations, I always take an hour to unwind. I always shower, re-do my makeup to feel human again, unpack my suitcase and get organized, and have a coffee. I never take a nap on arrival — this may be the worst thing you can do for jet lag. Let your body adjust to the local time zone, eat at normal times, and don’t be tempted to lie down for “2o minutes.”
3. Get out and explore your neighborhood the first day.
I always take inventory of what is available around me — grocery store, pharmacy, local coffee shop and more. I make mental notes of the roads and familiarize myself. I always leave my hotel with Google Maps saved offline and with an extra battery for my phone as well incase I run through my battery.
4. Early mornings are key to having a place to yourself.
The morning after the first night, I love to wake up early and go out on foot. I hit the ground running and make my way through the city or destination. I’ll try to time it with a sight and be first in — like the time we watched sunrise at Park Guëll in Barcelona.
5. Don’t over book the time and leave room for something spontaneous.
It’s good to generally have the edges of the puzzle outlined, but for the rest in the middle, leave room for surprise. I think that’s the best way to integrate into a city is by exploring it by foot and then something catches your eye. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve walked by a new cafe, noticed it, wrote down the name, stalked it on IG, and returned for a great meal.
6. Practice common sense.
Just like you would at home, there is often a neighborhood you should avoid at night. It’s worth the extra money on a taxi late at night then taking the subway, especially if you’re solo. For pickpocketing concerns in major cities, always keep your bag in the front and well-zipped.
7. If your itinerary has travel delays, make the most out of it.
A travel delay sucks no matter what it is — a cancelled flight or a missed train. I’d say make the most out of it — can you go back into town for few hours, maybe you extend an extra night. Whatever it is, don’t let it determine the rest of your trip negatively.
8. The local coffee shop is your best friend for recommendations.
It’s great to get recommendations from locals so I always try to ask someone at a coffee shop. For whatever reason, they seem to always know a good spot to go to and are in the know.
9. Be smart about cash and your passport.
I always have extra cash left at my hotel in case of something going missing. Your passport should always be somewhere secure — it’s rare you need to have it on you.
10. Most importantly, break out of your comfort zone.
This is what travel is about — going somewhere new, somewhere foreign, and opening yourself to the unknown. Sit at a restaurant by yourself, take a cooking class, go out dancing, explore without a plane, whatever it may be, do something new.