I’ve been asked many times after talking about traveling to people- “how do you meet so many people?” or “why do you always have such exciting stories?” – Well, I suppose I just have a different type of to-do list when I’m out and about.
When I go places the main thing I want to absorb and get a feel for is their culture. In my opinion, museums are great, but you can also see pictures of paintings and read about a place’s history in a book, so I would rather spend time feeling the “vibe” of the city and learning through experience!
I do typically plan one touristy thing per major place such as a walking or boat tour, a guided day trip, or a pub crawl. I’ll also try to do my touristy activity towards the beginning, just in case it sparks interest in something else!
The other things I typically look into are:
- Concerts and Music Festivals
- Social Swing Dances
- Glassblowing and Artist Studio Tours
- Open Air Markets
Concerts and Music Festivals
I have been to a lot of these, both in and outside of the US, and you can never really go wrong! I’ve used Songkick.com to look up what events are happening in cities I’m visiting. Even when traveling alone, I’ve found that seeing some live music is a great way to spend an evening, and it’s really easy to meet people! I typically look for lesser known EDM or Indie artists or people that are playing in venues that have good ratings. One thing to remember, if you are using public transportation and staying out late, make sure you secure a way to get back to where you are staying. Sometimes trains and buses will stop running late at night.
Social Swing Dances
This is something I picked up in college, and have continued since then. Swing dancing is a lot of fun! If you have rhythm and like music, it definitely worth checking out! Most cities have social dancing at least once a week where there’s a quick beginners lesson then open dancing the rest of the night. I would recommend checking it out in your own city then trying it while traveling! It can be a great way to both meet people and have good clean fun! Also, even if there is a strong language barrier, the steps are still the same, and you can still have a wonderful time!
Glassblowing and Artist Studio Tours
This one is a personal favorite of mine. Many different places have different styles of art, and often local artists and studios will open up for tours! I did a lot of glassblowing in college and I’ve always enjoyed watching other people work with glass. I have found the best way to do this is to email or call a studio before arriving in a city, and ask if they would give you a tour! Some places even offer workshops!
Open Air Markets
This includes farmers markets, flea markets, Christmas markets, etc. Most cities will have a market or two somewhere, you just have to find them! My personal favorites are the Christmas markets. They are so pretty, lit up with lights, and often have wonderful food! When traveling alone sometimes I will just eat at the markets rather than going to a restaurant. These are also a wonderful place to fine unique souvenirs.
These are just some of the things I enjoy while traveling! If you have any suggestions, feel free to leave a comment!