10 things every traveler should do

Travel Perspectives — By on June 19, 2009 at 7:15 am

Anyone who enjoys good travel writing has doubt become acquainted with the words of Pico Iyer. He’s written some wonderful books and essays about his journeys around the planet. And now he has penned a piece of travel advice for the website Real Simple. It is, appropriately enough, a simple and elegant listing of 10 things that every traveler should do in a new destination. An excerpt:

Savor every moment of your first few hours. First impressions really are worth a thousand others. I often scribble a hundred pages of notes when I visit somewhere new. But then, when I get home, it’s always the first page or two?the taxi ride in from the airport, my first foray out onto the streets?that captures something vivid and essential before my ideas and prejudices begin to harden. So stay away from e-mail, CNN, and anything that reminds you of home and just soak the place in.

Embrace the prospect of being a tourist. Some snooty types will tell you that they’re “travelers,” not tourists. But if being a tourist means wanting to see all the attractions that make a town unique, then what’s so bad about that? Take the three-hour city tour on your first day in Atlanta so you know where things are and what you wish to return to. When traveling abroad, visit the shops recommended by tour guides, if only to see what’s available from people who speak English. Don’t be shy about asking a local stranger how to find the national museum; she may just offer you a guided tour along the way.

Check out a bookstore.It’s a great way to learn about the interests of the locals. On almost any street in New Delhi, for example, a bookshop is bulging with works on palaces, textiles, spirituality, and the Kama Sutra; in Salt Lake City, the offerings are somewhat different. And in a store like the independent-minded Elliott Bay Book Company, a local institution in Seattle, you’ll find a universe so compendious that it seems to be an anthology of the city’s distinctive grace notes. Poking into even the smallest of these places not only opens a new door to a city but also offers the promise of a good read to keep you company at night.

All good advice. See the entire article for his seven other tips.

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2 Comments

  1. jen laceda says:

    Excellent pieces of advice. Who could argue with him nor you?!

  2. Dave and Deb says:

    I love that he says to go to McDonalds, because we do that! I don’t know why, but we always find ourselves at a Md’s or two during our travels. It is same same, but different.

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