GO TO THE LOCAL TOURIST OFFICE: When I travel I always try to find and visit a local tourist office. They always have useful information about the destination, accommodation, sights, events, festivals, activities, etc. People who are working here are often there to promote “their” destination. And sometimes they have some pretty good deals to offer you or discount cards. You can get maps, brochures, leaflets with lots of information. Before you travel, you can find your tourist office online and look up the address. And in case you will not be able to visit them, online you can find lots of information and deals as well.
FREE TOURS/WALKS: When visiting the tourist office, ask about free tours or walks. In more and more destinations volunteers offer free walking tours. A great way to explore and lots to learn for the guides.
DO OR DO NOT GET LOST: So far I go through life without even a navigation system and; I still travel with old fashioned maps. Whether you use an online map/app or paper map: it is important. It does not matter if you are on a road trip or walking through a city, just use a map. It is nice to get lost now and then, get off the beaten path. You will end up in places you did not plan to go and you will be pleasantly surprised. But you can also end up in the wrong neighborhood and that you definately want to avoid! Preparing the route you are taking will help you, but still carry a map with you.
ASK THE LOCALS: If your online navigation or map will not get you in the right direction, do not be afraid to ask for directions. I know, nobody wants to look or act like a tourist. But hey… we are most of the times, so there is nothing wrong with asking for help 🙂
YOUR ACCOMMODATION: when you are at the reception of your accommodation, make sure you ask about upgrades. You never know what is available. I always bring Dutch stoopwafels wherever I go and that helps. Be nice, be friendly… that way you can get things done. And if it does not help: at least you tried!
ASK YOUR HOTEL STAFF: Not only the tourist office will be able to give you valueble information, the staff in your hotel or hostel usually has a lot of information to give you, especially about the area where you are staying. They know what is a must see in the area, where you can eat (cheap or expensive), where the closest ATM is and so on… Like I wrote at nr. 2: ask the locals. Not only when you need directions, but also for information.
TAKE YOUR TIME: I always want to see, do and experience as much as possible when I am at new destination. But most of the times it is simply not possible. So take you time for the things you really think are important and try to relax a little a bit as well in between.
WIFI: these days WiFi is to be found almost everywhere you stay. When you have a WiFi spot, you can check your mail, messages, etc. but remember you are on holiday… do not spend to much time on the phone, unless you are looking up something for your holiday 😉
MEALS: of course you have to eat. Just do not eat at a touristic attraction. I have found out that usually the food is crap and expensive. I am sure there are exceptions, but still. I try to find places where only the locals visit. If the restaurants has a menu in multiple languages: then skip! These days with all the search engines you have on your phone or tablet, it is no so difficult to find great places to eat. And while we are talking about food: try local dishes, try something new, have some street food; that is part of the whole travel experience.
NIGHTLIFE: If you go out at night, do not take valueble belongings with you. Leave them in the safe of your hotel room or in a locker. And do not take a lot of money with you. Take your credit card; a safer option.
RESPECT: wherever you go, respect the (local) rules, stay polite… just behave! You are a visitor, a guest and you do not want to end up getting a fine (or worse) for being an …!