As most of you know, I don't plan too extensively before I get to a new place. I enjoy being spontaneous and having adventures find me. However, the more I get acquainted into this travel life, I realize that I have certain things that I always do no matter where I am, domestically or internationally. So while I hate routines / strict itineraries while traveling, I like my list, and it usually ends up being a great time anyway. My mini routine is also helpful in meeting some like minded individuals when I'm out and about during my solo travels.
1. Finding the water.
This is an obvious one. I am the person that wants to get married on the beach in my bare feet so I can feel the sand and be calm. While I prefer a beach while traveling, I realize that there will not be a coast everywhere I go. However, if there's a river or lake I can take a stroll by, I'm game. The beach is where I have some of the most intimate conversations with Big Homie and I will never grow tired of being around bodies of water.
2. Feel peaceful in a botanical garden.
I don't recall when I started becoming obsessed with gardens, but I am not mad about it. I know it sounds like a spring / summertime activity, but I have even visited botanical gardens in the dead winter (i.e. Toronto and Washington D.C.). Most of the time, visiting a garden is a free activity and can lead to some awesome photos. I also think it's virtually impossible to leave a garden without smiling. If you do, you need Jesus.
3. Geek out at neat museums.
I truly believe there is a museum for everybody. Sex museums. Alcohol museums. Branding museums. Science museums. Whatever you like, I'm sure there is one out there in the world for you. As an educator and a creative, I pretty much consider myself to be a lifelong learner. My favorite museums as of lately are ones linked to culture and the more interactive the better. I'd also suggest that you research when your new destination offers discounts on museums and their overall schedule. In some cities, all museums are closed on Monday but offer a 10% discount after 3pm on a Wednesday. Do your research on the destination, make a plan, and execute!
4. Cut a rug at a jazz bar.
If you ever walk into my office in Dallas, you will more than likely hear jazz music. I feel like I am turning into my grandmother / godfather, but I've become obsessed. Naturally, when visiting a new destination, if it's a city, I'm checking out the jazz clubs. I love the intimacy and the fact that folks will cut. up. Even if jazz isn't your favorite music genre, I would still highly suggest visiting one.
5. Drink local coffee.
Some travelers automatically seek out Starbucks when they arrive to a new destination. If that's your ministry, hey. Go for it. As for me, I love finding quaint coffee shops that are focused on pretty coffee art and ensuring that I have a great experience. I also feel better about giving a minor contribution to the local economy. An extra bonus is that usually, if I had a question about suggestions in the area, baristas will point me out in the proper direction.
6. Seeking out the best views.
#NoDrake, but I'm all about the views. I don't mind waking up early to catch a sunrise although more than likely, I'll see the sunset. I love capturing panoramic views of cities in its highest building. Perhaps it's the photographer in me, but quiet moments capturing a city give me quite a bit of joy.
7. Fall in love in a book store.
I am obsessed with books. Once upon a time, I would spend $100 a month on books at Barnes & Noble with my discount included. It was a problem, but not a problem, if that makes sense. Naturally, it only makes sense that I visit the funkiest book stores in various cities. I have been in some in which I felt like Belle from Beauty & the Beast because the libraries were ceiling-to-floor.
8. Hop on a boat.
When I took my first international trip, I went to the Caribbean alone (duh) and wanted to visit the British Virgin Islands since I was already in the US Virgin Islands. I was a bit apprehensive about standing on the top, but after I conquered that small amount of fear and got to the top, I haven't looked back. Ever since, at any and every opportunity, I will give away all of my coins if that means I can be on a boat. I love the water, the wind, and how exhilarating I feel when I'm on a boat.
9. Get my entire life and lose my mind at the dope street art.
This is hands down one of my favorite things to do. I can fall in love with a city based on its art alone. Street art narrates the tale of a city without needing to hear words. Sometimes, I will take a street art tour (like the epic one I did in Lisbon), but more often than not, I'm going to Google where to go in the area, and keep it pushing from there. I, for one, am here for the influx of art popping up in cities and never want it to go away.
10. A "first time" activity.
Part of the fun in traveling is the fact that you can create a new adventure. When I am visiting a new destination, I do my best to do something I've never done before. This has led to me snorkeling alone, tubing, paddleboarding, and more. I think when I am at a new destination, my guard is down and I am a lot more open minded. I am hoping to recreate that willing attitude in my daily life and to expand out of my normal routine. First stop, I want to try out golf, so pray for me.
So, what about you, travelers? What activities do you always do when you are visiting a new destination? I'm always open to suggestions and would love to hear from you! Let's chat.