You’ve been planning your vacation for months, and you’re finally there. You’ve checked into your hotel, settled in and feel like you can conquer the world. But before you do so, here are a few things to make the experience better and hassle-free. Yes, you are welcome:
Grab your hotel’s business card
You’ve gotten yourself a great deal on a quaint hotel in the heart of the city, but the flip side of such fortuitous discoveries is that when you’re lost wandering the city, you can’t always ask people for directions with accuracy. So, to avoid late-night confused wanderings, make sure you grab a couple of visiting cards from the hotel and put them in your wallet, between the pages of the book you’re carrying, in the pockets of your several coats and anywhere else you can think of for smooth passages.
If you’re tech-savvy and work well with your GPS apps (and they can be lifesavers!), “Favourite/Mark” your hotel location before venturing out. This will see you through any wrong turns, drunken stupors or over-smart cabbies looking to make you contribute generously to their day’s income. Also, downloading offline maps are always a big help.
It’s good to know where the convenience stores are
Walk around your hotel on Day 1 to get an idea of the 24×7 stores so that you’re sorted for any last-minute emergencies or midnight cravings.
Chat up the receptionist
Most receptionists are founts of information. They know how to get the stuff, and where to get the stuff — so be nice. (They also have a key to your room!) If you like to eat local and enjoy cultural programmes, ask the receptionist for tips around the city — there may be special events or festivals you could check out, breweries/restaurants that are new and haven’t quite made it to your edition of Lonely Planet yet.
Grab a map
This is of paramount importance. You may have the latest smartphone, and a cracking map app, but it’s always good to keep a hard copy as backup. Most hotels have city maps which not only help you plan your way around, but by marking places and routes, they also make for great souvenirs.
Grab a transit pass for the city/state
Taking public transport is a great way to explore any city. Most cities have day/week passes that work for different types of transport services, and they’re also cost-effective. These are usually available at the terminus or even mom-n-pop stores and kiosks. If you find any travel booklet with details like bus/tram/metro routes, get one.
Get a local number
Even if you’re in a country for just a week, getting a local number with an internet connection gives you freedom like nothing else, especially if you’re travelling alone. Most countries have cheap prepaid cards with tourist-friendly internet plans. Grab one at the airport, and you won’t feel handicapped at all.
Be safe, fake a conversation
If you’re a solo woman traveller and are out a bit late into the night, faking a conversation with a friend or family is a good way to alert those around you. Alternatively, take a photo of the licence plate of the vehicle/driver and email it to a friend.