Today I want to tell you about something that helped me stay focused and feel normal while traveling for a longer period of time. It is hard to feel like you have a normal life if you keep traveling, so I decided that in each city I would do these things to help me get a routine. It also gives me a great way to compare different cities and tell how I feel about them.
Walk around the center
I always take a walk around the center mostly without an aim. I just start walking in one direction and walk until I feel like I got a good idea of the area. This normally leads to me having a sense of direction very quickly in a few places. I can say I have been in this street before and figure out where I am according to that. I love seeing new places this way and enjoy the real city. It has taken me to places I would have normally not seen. There are so many cute streets, small restaurants or cafes that only wait for you to discover them. Do not worry about getting lost. You can always figure out where you are later, and then get home somehow.
Sit in a cafe and people watch
I love people watching. It is fun to look at the people walking by, think about where they might be going, how they are different from the people back home. Normally I take a book or my laptop with me to look like I'm doing something productive. Most coffee shops will not kick you out if you sit there for an hour or two. Order a coffee and enjoy the new environment.
Explore one of the local parks
Exploring a park is such a great way to get a break from all the city life. You can come here with some friends you might have met at your hostel to sit around and just chat a bit. Or wander around and enjoy the trees and other plants around you. Parks are a great place to come on Saturdays because they are normally full of life. In Barcelona, we found many street performers and other artists in the park on Saturday because they had the time to come and show their talents to the public.
Eat at one cute restaurant
During my explorations, I always come across so many little places that I want to stop at. Usually, I am intrigued by the small hidden restaurants you find in courtyards or small alleys. I tend to stop at a random one for lunch and eat something local. This might be something normal if I'm somewhere in Europe, or something I am not as familiar with in other continents. I try to eat at least one local dish during my time in a place because food is such a strong expression of culture. Most of the time the dishes very delicious and the people friendly.
Go to one place locals tell you about
We all know that locals always know best. They know the places that are overrated and the hidden spots tourists almost always miss. During my trips, I ask the receptionist to give me suggestions on what to do, where to eat, and places not to miss. I have had great luck with this in Barcelona, Laos, and some of the other places I traveled to. These are places you will normally not find in any tourist guide and might not always be the easiest to get to. For example, in Cuernavaca, we visited the Parque Ecologico de Chapultepec. I would have never found this on my own, but really loved it and would suggest it to other travelers.
Buy one thing that will make you think of this place
Now you do not have to do this in every place, but if you see something that you like, just get it. It does not have to be a souvenir per se. I, for example, love buying things I will use. This could be anything from a pen to a shirt. When I am at home I will now forever keep thinking of this place when I use that item and remember all the great memories. I have a shirt I bought years ago in Singapore and still, every time I take it out of the closet, I remember all the great memories from that trip and it makes me a little nostalgic. This idea will also help you not have a lot of useless stuff at home and still have memories from your travels.
There you have my tips to have a little bit of a routine in your travels. If you keep doing these things they will start feeling familiar even if it is always a new place. They also help you get to know each place you travel to a little better. Hope these tips you in some way or another. If you have any others, feel free to share them with me in the comments below or on social media.