12 Tips For Getting To Know Any Neighborhood When Traveling – TravelAwaits

You’ve arrived! Whether it’s Boston, Berlin, or Bogota, you’ve checked in, unpacked your bag, had a shower. Now what?

Whether you’ll be there for a morning or a month, you’ll deepen your travel experience by spending an hour becoming familiar with your new surroundings, identifying spots you want to go back to, and anchoring yourself with a sense of place.

While I love to travel, my first day in a new environment was once a huge challenge for me. Because I don’t have a good sense of direction or the ability to create a visual map of where I am, an unfamiliar place can feel chaotic and overwhelming. Many times, I’ve found myself feeling emotional after a few hours, longing for the familiar comforts of home and wondering, “Oh, why did we bother to come? This is just too hard.” It doesn’t help that my husband, Barry, who calls himself a “recovering civil engineer,” has excellent spatial intelligence and develops a clear sense of orientation within five minutes.

But after 40 years of travel, I’ve developed strategies that not only help me get past my initial overwhelm, they nurture me throughout my stay. If you also feel disoriented on your first day, here’s my proven, evidence-based methodology designed for you!

Shortly after arriving, head out on a scavenger hunt to find one or more of these 12 urban features that will awaken your curiosity, yet relax and calm you, too.

1. Locate Yourself In Space

As in, north, south, east, west. Use the compass