Assuming you don’t live out in the absolute middle of nowhere, you don’t have to go far to go on vacation! Read on for some ideas of how to see your city from a new angle and be a tourist in your own city.
Book a stay downtown at a hotel or AirBnb, and enjoy exploring your own backyard. Now that you’re close to all the action, start planning a weekend packed with activities!
BOOK SOME TICKETS
Find out what’s happening that weekend and get some tickets! Whether it be for the theater, a concert, ball game, a trip to your local museum or a comedy show- get out there!
ENJOY AN EVENING OF FINE DINING
Take your staycation up a notch with a reservation at one of the best restaurants in town. Dining out can be expensive, but you’re paying a premium because the chef’s know how to prepare foods in ways you don’t, they have access to premium ingredients, and they take the time to slow roast that pork for multiple days.
This also goes for a craft cocktail! It is woooorth it to spend money on a good drink. I can bet you that you aren’t going to want to drop a couple hundred bucks on quality obscure cocktail ingredients that you then are going to barely utilize at home- in fact some of the ingredients may even be hard to come by in your local liquor store.
GO TO THE PARK
Ok- this activity isn’t as lame as it sounds. Think about Central Park and how touristy it is. There is so much going on there! If you live in a major metropolitan area with a similar type of outdoor gathering area- go! You’ll have food vendors, buskers, and you can do loooots of people watching. Grab a picnic blanket and basket and plop yourself down for an afternoon of relaxing in the sun.
HAVE A FRIEND SHOW YOU AROUND
The way you explore a city and the places you go within it may be vastly different than that of your friends! Have one of them show you their top spots. You might be in for a surprise!
HOP ON, HOP OFF
One of the most touristy things you can do anywhere are those “hop on, hop off” tour buses. But don’t hop off: sit and stay for a while, and watch the city pass you by.
You might be the kind of person that prefers hotels, or you might prefer hostels. Maybe, you’re in between the two. There are pros and cons to staying in both of these types of establishments. Yep- there are cons to staying in a 5-star luxurious hotel.
When you stay in a hotel- you know what you’re getting. You get a crisp bed set tucked in so tight you have to untuck it to get in. You have six pillows too many. A large flatscreen tv that turns on to the local hotel channel. A mini fridge with a coffee and tea setup above it. A bathroom with a small hotel-spa branded kit. What you get, is predictability.
I love hotels for that very reason of predictability. I love that it is a familiar experience and I can fully relax and enjoy my vacation with a slew of amenities right at my fingertips. Especially if you’re at a resort, it is its own little world. And, the nicer the hotel, the nicer the stay.
Now here is the con- hotels are isolating. Chances are you don’t leave the resort grounds during your stay because everything you need is at your fingertips, so you might not see any reason for leaving. Of course this is exactly what some people are looking for but if you’re trying to really experience a new city, culture, and country, staying in a hotel might not be the best place to ensure you get the experience you’re looking for.
If you’ve never stayed in a hostel before- what are you doing?! Sure, it’s not going to be as pristine as a five star hotel, it won’t have an in-house spa, or pillowy duvets… or… a lot of things. What it will have though, is a whole lotta character and a whole lotta characters.
The con I mentioned about staying in a hotel doesn’t apply to hostels. Staying in a hostel is going to keep you on your toes and you’ll be surrounded by activity. Hostels have all the deets on the best places to visit, best tours, and local secrets. Like a hotel concierge, the front desk at a hostel can help steer you in the right direction of an activity both interests you and fits your needs. Because hostels are also so budget friendly- it can be a cost effective way to travel.
Hostels also have the most interesting people. Sure- there are interesting people staying at a hotel, but they’re likely not going to be mingling with with the masses. Everyone is friends with everyone in a hostel, and you might even be lucky enough to gain a host the next time you go abroad- you meet people from all over the world. Some people are passing through and others have been camped out for some time, but everyone has the same intention: have fun, and have an adventure.
The con to staying in a hostel is it’s pro- that it is so lively and communal. But if you’re trying to hit the hay early for an early departure, you might have trouble doing that, especially on a weekend night. With communal rooms, you could have some hostel go-ers coming and going, so if you’re a light sleeper bring those earplugs. Because there is a lack of privacy, you also need to be wary of your items. If you’re going to cry over an item getting stolen- probably don’t bring it with you! However some hostels will have secure lockers, or you could leave items at the front desk/in the luggage room while you’re out during the day.
Because hostels aren’t as cut-and-dry as hotels, here are a few tips when you’re looking to book a hostel:
Read reviews! Make sure you are choosing a reputable hostel that has a solid amount of reviews. Because these aren’t big names like the Four Seasons or Mandarin Oriental, you won’t automatically know if they have a good reputation or not.
Choose a hostel close to a city center. The last thing you want is to be too far from the main event- unless you’re on a trek or something and you’re supposed to be in the middle of nowhere. Part of the reason many people book a hostel in the first place is to save on costs while traveling. If you’re too far out from the city center, you might end up spending too much money getting places when you could have just walked or biked instead.
Research the neighborhood. Make sure you have an idea of where your hostel is located and what surrounds it. Tourists get taken advantage of left and right, and you don’t want to put yourself deeper into that position by staying in a bad area.
Know what living situation you are about to book. Hostels can have a variety of living corridors set up. There are private rooms, doubles, dormitory-style with upwards of 20 people, single-sex dormitories, and co-ed dormitories. If you aren’t comfortable staying in a co-ed dorm, know that if you still were to book it, you might not be able to switch to a single-sex dorm if the hostel has no vacancy!
Be aware of how the hostel takes payment and handles cancellations and extensions. Beyond your deposit, make sure you know if paying by card upon arrival is the preferred method or if you will need to have the local currency on hand and pay in cash. Also be aware of their cancellation and extension policy- you never know what is going to happen when you’re at a hostel!
Hostelworld.com is a great place to start your hostel search! You’ll learn that there are a wide variety of hostels, with some that are old and worn, and others that look modern and even a little hotel-like.
SO, HOTEL OR HOSTEL?
Neither one is better or worse. It just depends on the kind of trip you are looking for!
Let’s just say it- traveling isn’t always easy. That ocean bungalow in the Maldives is not going to be easy to get to. Read on for tips on how to survive the long journey ahead of you.
Wear comfortable clothing This one should be a no brainer. If you’re sitting on a plane for 8 hours, you want to be wearing something that you can relax in. I like stretchy or nonconstructive clothing- I’m not going to be wearing my tightest pair of skinny jeans. I often opt for leggings or joggers on the bottom, and a loose or form fitted but stretchy top. Basically…athleisure. If you want to step it up a notch, “paper bag” style pants, or a nice linen jogger with a casual top is a great option.
For shoes, there are a few key elements that make up the perfect travel show. First off is comfort. Don’t wear a shoe that is pinching your toes or will hurt your feet from walking around in. Secondly, easy on and off. All eyes will be on you if you’re holding up the line and fumbling around trying to get your shoes off at security. Make sure you have a shoe that requires minimal effort to get on and off. Lastly, make sure the shoe stays on your feet. If you’re running off to your connecting flight, shoes without backs might not cut it. Get a shoe that will securely stay on your feet as you book it to the next terminal.
Give yourself time You’re already on a 8 hour flight. Maybe it’s a red eye. Maybe you have a screaming child near you. Maybe you don’t sleep well on planes. Give yourself a long enough layover that you don’t also spend your current flight worrying about making your connecting flight.
There was one time I was at baggage claim in Santiago, Chile, and this girl was freaking out because she had 30 minutes from the time our flight landed and her next one took off. Mind you- it was an international flight so she had to wait for her luggage and go through customs etc. Understand what you’ll need to do to catch your next flight and book accordingly. Please, just save yourself some stress and don’t be like that girl.
Headphones Don’t forget your headphones! Luckily you can probably find a pair in a terminal shop, but they might not be what you want and you’ll be paying a premium for them.
Invest in a comfortable pair of headphones or earbuds so that you can tune out your fellow passengers.Watching a movie, listening to music, or listening to a podcast will help pass the time.
Bring a snack Before you board your flight, make sure you grab a snack from the shops. You’ll be glad you have your own water bottle instead of relying on the beverage cart every X hours, and you can snack on something a little tastier than plane pretzels and nut mixes.
Get up and walk around Give your body some exercise and stretch. You’ll become cramped and stiff sitting in the same spot for 8 hours. Take a bathroom break, or a faux bathroom break, and get that blood flowing.
There are some things you just can’t leave without when you’re going on a trip- big or small. Below are ten key items you should bring along on your next trip.
A camera Whether it be your smartphone, a point and shoot, mirrorless, or DSLR- bring a camera! Yes, do be in the moment during your trip, but be in the moment and snap some photographic memories or videos that you can look back and smile on. Don’t forget to bring more than one memory card!
Comfy shoes They might look good, but you’re not going to have fun walking around a city in uncomfortable shoes or heels. There are a ton of stylish sneakers these days, or you can opt for a strappy flat sandal that won’t fall off your feet.
Mini Power Bank Don’t end up lost in a new city because your phone ran out of battery. Bring along a mini power bank and make sure it is fully charged before your trip, and of course don’t forget to bring its charging accessories for multiple uses.
Headphones How long will you have to be cancelling out a screaming child on a flight? Invest in some comfortable and good-quality noise cancelling headphones so you can crank on some tunes and block out little Bobby’s wails.
Dopp Kit/Toiletry Bag Have you ever gotten to your hotel and realized you forgot your toothbrush, or some other toiletry? Have a Dopp kit or toiletry bag ready to grab and go, filled with the basics.
Mini Compressed Towels Don’t try and eat these- they aren’t mints! Get yourself a pack of mini compressed towels and pop some in your travel bags. They take up almost zero space and are very handy to have on you.
Outlet Adapter If you’re going between countries an outlet adapter is a must. Gotta get that phone charge in on your international layover!
City Mapper Ok so this isn’t really an accessory…. but it is an app you should have on your phone! City Mapper is a must have for public transportation if you’re exploring a new city. They’ve made it easy to get from point A to point B- with directions on what subway, rail, or bus lines you need to take.
Packing Cubes Make packing your bags easy with packing cubes! It might seem dumb to pack things in a cube and then pack the cube… but trust me- it is so helpful. You’ll be able to pack smarter, and keep everything organized.
Packing List You might be thinking to yourself, “why do I need to bring a packing list”? The answer to that, my friend, is because all too often you realize you left an item behind when you start unpacking back at home. Have two packing lists, one for going on your trip and one for coming back home.a
Rebecca’s place is an impeccable, modern cottage with beautiful views of the orchards all around it. It’s clean, comfortable, modern and a great basecamp for exploring the Hawkes Bay wine region. I enjoyed every minute that I spent there and wish I could have stayed longer.
I can’t stress enough how much I love this place. Private with a view of the orchard/garden. Very economical and trendy design. close to all the main attractions (within 15min drive). Apartment was immaculately clean. Would highly recommend staying here if you want your own little private retreat.
Rebecca’s place is perfect for a getaway from the city! A nice private space, beautiful fit out and very cool view of the gardens. Pretty close to Hastings and Napier too which was perfect for a day trip. Loved it and would definitely stay again!
WOW! This place is one that you don’t want to snooze on. This was our favorite place that we stayed during our trip to New Zealand. The view is absolutely stunning and the stylish space is one you won’t forget. We loved the big sliding doors, giving a great feeling of indoor/outdoor living. We also LOVED using the tub at night. It was so fun and we got some great stars one night! I would highly recommend this place to anyone that is looking for a peaceful, beautiful place to stay. The location is also amazing with the Abel Tasman Track, Wainui Falls and beach all right down the street. Thanks again for the amazing stay!
Seriously, this place is absolutely incredible. If you’re looking to relax, disconnect, and decompress, I can’t imagine a better place to do it. We LOVED that there was no TV and no internet – just peace and quiet and incredible sunsets over the bay. That being said, if you want to go out and have a meal or explore, you’re really only a 15 minute drive from town. We really enjoyed learning about the construction of the house and the green design elements. We didn’t actually meet Lawrence, but he was prompt to answer any communications and the instructions provided for arrival and check-in were easy to follow. Jackie, the property manager, who greeted us on our arrival was very friendly and helpful. We feel privileged to have spent a few days in this beautiful house and we hope to visit again soon.
Eco friendly house with the most incredible view! Wainui Bay is so beautiful. Location is excellent to the Abel Tasman Coastal Track (which is equally as stunning). The house was always warm. We had a friendly weka that visited us each day. 30mins drive to Takaka – a cute little town with lots of charm and local cafes. Would recommend for an off the grid weekend of relaxation.
Inger’s apartment was absolutely gorgeous. It was more spacious than pictured in the photos, tastefully decorated, and immensely comfortable. Any amenity we could have possibly needed was available to us in her compendious apartment. Inger’s hospitality was also very thoughtful, as she called us a taxi to and from the airport, and gave detailed instructions on when and where to meet our driver. One of the best AirBnB experiences I’ve had this year (and I’ve had very many)!
What an amazing place to stay, stylish, comfortable, spacious, light and homely! It really was amazing! It was such a treat to come back to after a day of exploring Stockholm. It was equipped with everything you needed ( the kitchen was incredible! ) and was very close to good restaurants, cafés and food shops. It was in a lovely area within 15 / 20 mins walk of the centre. We walked to most places and hired bikes for getting further afield. We loved the terrace at the back which was great for breakfast and evening drinks. I highly recommend this apartment. Inger was an excellent host, replying quickly to any questions and was really helpful with organising reasonably priced taxis from the airport. We really appreciated the welcome pack of food and drink and this meant we had a few supplies the first day we arrived weary from travel. I would definitely recommend this place to my friends and are planning to use it again when next in Stockholm. Thanks, Inger for making us so welcome and for being such a great host.
Inger is a great example of what Airbnb means by “superhost.” Her hospitality, local knowledge, and descriptions are all excellent, and her home is a wonderful place to stay in Stockholm. It’s about a 25-30 minute walk to the waterfront, along safe, interesting streets (which means the walk often becomes an adventure in itself). That means you will have to take a bus or hike a bit to get into Gamla Stan, Djurgarden, etc — but the advantage is you are away from the tourist crowds and living among the locals….which is the whole point. The space is excellent and perfectly laid out for 2-3 adult guests or a family of 4, with a master suite “wing” (bedroom, full bath, and office) which can be closed off from the rest of the house. The building is older, which means thick walls and superb ventilation from many windows, and the bedroom windows all look out on a large, lovely courtyard shared by several buildings, which is completely quiet at night (although some mornings a school or child care goes out to play around 0830, which is fun to see). There is a delightful antique cage elevator right outside in the hallway which makes access to the third floor home easy and quick (although we usually took the beautiful and roomy marble winding staircase instead). Peter is a gourmet chef and the kitchen shows it — very well laid out and every possible implement comes ready to hand. We enjoyed picking up produce from the local markets (it was chanterelle mushroom season, mmm) and cooking our dinners in the house after spending the expected fortune on Swedish restaurants for lunch. There is a major t-bana stop only ten minutes walk down Odengatan which provides access to the whole city, including airport and central train station transfers, and a beautiful (and architecturally significant) library to be seen along the walk. This is truly a fantastic base from which to explore the city, and we couldn’t have wished for a better host.
Inger and Peter’s apartment was incredible and exceeded our expectations! It was such a comfortable space with every facility available and was so very clean and spotless. The apartment is beautifully decorated and artworks adorn every corner and this was so very pleasing. The position is absolutely ideal for getting around Stockholm and the ‘eat-street‘ is just out the front door. Inger and Peter were perfect hosts and for this we thank them.
We loved the apartment, so much space, very comfortable – inside it was very clean and with cool art on the walls was a really fun place to stay in. Everything was without fault – the showers had good pressure, the bathroom had heated flooring, the bedding was comfortable, there were towel dressing gowns provided which was amazing. As Stockholm is very expensive, we cooked in on two night and the kitchen had everything we needed; plus the dinning room was very smart. There was a coffee machine with fresh ground coffee that was great for our morning fix. Just by the apartment was an amazing French restaurant, Belzac – that we had a slap up meal in. We mainly took Uber (taxi) around town – which we found to be the cheapest form of transport; but there was a bus stop very close; we had nice weather during our stay and walked from apartment to the center of town and onto Gamla Stan, which took about 20 minute but was really interesting as we explored the buzzy shops and cafes. All in all this AirBnb was wonderful and make our trip to Stockholm very memorable.
This beautiful flat is the best we have experienced in years of various sorts of international rentals. The place is exceptionally well designed, very elegantly appointed, every tool for comfort is available without clutter or difficulty. We enjoyed the thoughtful communications from our hosts. Sure do hope to stay here again! THANK YOU!!
Matthieu & Francesca’s place is just wonderful. The location is amazing, close to the metro and easy to get to from Charles de Gaulle. The flat itself is great – a very comfortable bed and an extremely comfortable sofa bed. They were very kind and provided us with fresh sheets and towels. The apartment is naturally lit with huge windows and is perfect for relaxing in after a day in Paris. The area is good with plenty of bars, restaurants and shops on the door step. Matthieu made checking in really easy and he was very thorough when showing me around the apartment. He was communicative throughout our stay, we couldn’t have wished for better.
Cute loft in a super cool old building. Big windows for some bright sunshine. Steps away from the metro and the beautiful Luxembourg gardens. Nearby the port royal RER for easy CDG travel. Amenities were plenty and communication was clear and efficient and the check-in process was smooth and easy. Overall, we loved the place and wish we spent more time there! Thanks for the lovely stay 🙂
We enjoyed a week in this fabulous apartment and didn’t want our time in Helsinki to end! The neighborhood is wonderful – cafes, parks and restaurants. Kaffa and Levain should not be missed! Also very convenient to have Alepa grocery just around the corner. Very walkable to anywhere in Helsinki. The 5th floor penthouse was perfectly appointed, spacious and quiet. Will definitely stay here again in future!
I stayed in Bob’s place with great pleasure. Communication and check-in were perfect. Host thought out lots of pleasant things for guests, which create mood of comfort and care. You are welcome here! The main impression I want to share is – interior space. Bright, open-plan space of the attic floor is amazing. Author of interior did not just hide engineering communications behind central columns, but created real sculptural volumes from them. Two vertical elements, highlighted in light-gray against white walls, play a major theme in the interior. Having a contrast shape to orthogonal geometry of surroundings, cut with smooth curves, the central elements create a combined flowing space around them. Going around these interior dominants (by eight in the plan), you do not notice boundaries of individual zones, feel unity and harmony of space. Same time each of individual zones have it’s own mood and degree of spatial privacy. Bob, thanks for an opportunity to have experience of living in such interior space!
It was a lovely apartment that was very tastefully decorated, and we had a very comfortable stay for 3 nights while traveling in Helsinki. Coffee & tea were available for guests – definitely a welcome touch especially after traveling for hours! The apartment came with a fully equipped kitchen which was useful when we wanted to heat up food/prepare some meals instead of eating out. There’s a wonderful bakery called Levain that’s just down the road as well which we would recommend. Overall, would definitely recommend Bob’s apartment to whoever wants a cosy and warm “home away from home” to stay in while in Helsinki.