How to own a new city … 5 tips to make you feel right at home.
When arriving in a new city either as an expat or a tourist, it is always guaranteed to be a little daunting. Trying to establish your bearings, public transport, where to get some decent food, possibly a new language and all the little unsaid rules of a new city (for the love of god, DON’T stand to the left on an escalator in London!!) can send you a little stir crazy in those first 24 hours.
Having packed my bags and moved myself to the other side of the world, and traveled solo to more countries than I can count. I have learnt a few tips that make those first few moments and days seem slightly less terrifying
1. Download your destination on Google maps.
Aside from the issues with the little blue dot occasionally leading you astray, this is an absolute life saver! Even without roaming or data turned on, your position on a map will always be plotted so long as you have pre-loaded the map on your phone. You can then navigate your way to your desired destination without having to pull out a map and stand lost and disorientated in the streets .
2. Download public transport apps
If you are heading to London, Paris, Madrid, New York, Berlin or Barcelona you have to get Citymapper on to your phone right now! Once you have selected your destination, it will give you a number of possible options for various public transport routes which includes cost and time to destination. Extremely user friendly, even for the most technologically inept of us!
If there isn’t an app available for your chosen city, try subway, metro or tube map applications to allow you to inconspicuously assess just how far in the wrong direction you have traveled without anyone being the wiser. You can use these underground and without WiFi also.
3. Take your hobbies global
There is no better way to meet like minded people than to involve yourself in one of your regular activities, in a new city.
As an expat, the first thing I do (even before sorting out accommodation!) is to book myself into an array of classes or sports. During my time living in London, I took part in yoga, crossFit, pole dance, contortion, aerial silks, hoop and rope classes and later on took on Spanish and photography lessons! Obviously, you don’t need to take on this number of interests, but I found this an invaluable way of meeting people and making those very first new friends!
If you are just visiting a city, try taking a fitness class or a photography class as means to meet some of the locals. Even if it’s just a brief chat in class, they are full of invaluable knowledge to help you get around and direct you to get yourself well and truly fed! You may even make a new friend.
4. Try something new
In a similar theme as above, try something completely new! During my recent visit to NYC I found my inner Monet and took part in a fabulous evening known as Paintnite (https://www.paintnite.com). Not only did I get to eat, drink and socialise in a local hand picked bar, I created a very unique memento of my time in NYC. New skill, great atmosphere and people, and as many vino’s as you can down with a paint brush in your hand – what more could you want!
5. Connect with those around you
Chances are your neighbors mothers best friends daughters boyfriend has been to the city you are arriving into – OK so maybe not that extreme but there are usually six degrees of separation in which you can connect with someone who lives in your new city. Though this may seem daunting, more often than not these loose connections are more than happy to help show you around, advise you on where to best spend your time or better yet offer you somewhere to stay! The kindness I have received to date when contacting almost strangers is absolutely mind blowing.
If all else fails, just smile! Nothing makes you more approachable than a big old smile on your face.