Have you ever had a long layover while you’re travelling?

Maybe you’re driving cross-country to go to a friend’s wedding, and since you’ve reached your destination early you decide to explore the surrounding area. Or perhaps you’re flying internationally and your connecting flight gets cancelled, so you have to wait nearly a whole day to catch the next available one.

Lucky you! While most travelers hate any sort of layover, you should view them as a fortunate opportunity to explore someplace new! Whether your layover locale is rural or urban, domestic or foreign, don’t miss an opportunity to go sightseeing in an unexpected place—even if you only have a few hours to do it.

Here are a few tips on how to make the most of your city-exploring in under 24 hours!

Take A Few Moments to Plan

Okay! So you’ve decided that you’re going to ditch the airport or your hotel room and see what this mysterious new place has to offer. You might be in a total rush to get out there and explore. But if you want to make the most of the limited time you have, you should take a few minutes to make a game plan.

First, you need to determine the basic characteristics of the area. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Are you in an urban or rural area?
  • Is the area small or large?
  • Is there sightseeing or tourist-centric places?
  • Is everything close together or spread out?

These questions will help you plan a short itinerary or to-do list. If you’re in a big city, there are bound to be plenty of fun shops, restaurants, and neighborhoods to dive into. If you’re in a rural area, there might be some beautiful scenic areas where you can take lovely pictures. If you’re in an area known for big tourist attractions (like New York City or London), you might be interested in doing some of those. If you’re in a smaller, less-travelled part of the world, you might have to find places and activities that are preferred by the locals.

Talks to Locals

Regardless of where you are, talking to locals is a great way to figure out the best things to do and places to see. Obviously, locals know the area better than you do. They’ll be able to point out the best things to do and places to visit. Even better, locals can point you toward lesser-known places and activities that aren’t often enjoyed by visitors.

Locals can also save you time and money by telling you which places are uninteresting or overrated. No one wants to waste time at an attraction that’s overcrowded with tourists or isn’t as fun as it’s advertised. Locals can steer you away from these activities. More importantly, they can tell you if there are any unsafe neighborhoods that you should avoid while exploring.

Find a Map

Obtaining a map of the city is the final step in the planning stage. Most people nowadays can use their GPS, but some folks still prefer a paper map. Paper maps could be advantageous because they’re often designed for out-of-towners and they can point out fun things to do (you’ll also preserve your phone’s battery). However, there are plenty of travel apps that are just as accessible.

Use your map to get an overview of the area you’ll be exploring, and chart out where all the things you want to do are located. Depending on the size of the area, you may get to do all of them, or only some.

Circular Movements

If you’re exploring a large area, like a big city or rural expanse, one of the best ways to go about your venture is to move in a big circle. You want to avoid randomly moving back and forth across the whole city because that’ll waste a lot of time. Moving in a circle will take you around most parts of the city, and you’ll ultimately return to the exact place you started.

Have the Right Gear

Wherever you’re travelling, it’s important that you have the right travel gear. You’ll be in pretty good shape if your luggage is being transferred by the airport, or if you have a car in which you can stuff your travel bags. If not, you’ll have to haul your bags wherever you go. Consider travelling with a backpacking bag. These are heavy-duty bags designed hold a large supply of travel essentials, and you can ergonomically wear them on your back.

Make sure that you also have comfortable clothing! If you’re going to be trekking around all day, you’ll want to wear you comfiest shirt, pants, and—most importantly—shoes. Slip on sneakers or tennis shoes are perfect for city exploring and are also stylish so your Instagram posts will be off the charts.

So get out there and explore! You might not be able to get to some fun attractions, but you’ll most likely find fun things to do that you didn’t know existed. Be prepared to change up your game plan, and you’ll have the most memorable time if you go with the flow!

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