Let’s play pretend, shall we?
Ain’t travelling great? Some of my favourite memories with loved ones fall during trips abroad. Like that time I made Mark recreate the Titanic scene with me on the ferry from Manhattan to the Statue of Liberty when no one was looking, or accidentally taking drowsy anti-travel sickness pills when I was away on a trip with Lily that made us so tired that we fell asleep in our hands during dinner. Oh how we laughed the next day when we realised. Trips tend to fall into two categories; either they’re the real touristy ones where I’m visiting a new city and want to see ALL THE THINGS, or they’re repeat visits to places that I’ve been to before where I try my best to blend into the neighbourhood and live like a local. I personally love both, but sometimes it’s hard to switch into ‘local’ mode when really you’re a tourist and feel like you should be standing in a never-ending line somewhere for something that you’ve already seen last time you visited. So here’s how to make the best out of a spot that you’ve visited before and shake away the ‘I should be queuing‘ guilt…
ASK YOUR MATES
Now is the time to ping over a WhatsApp to your mate who knows your destination like the back of their hand to hit them up for recommendations. We’re pretty lucky in this sense. We’ve got a friend who lived in Madrid for a year, pals who have just packed off to Amsterdam and I met a lovely lady during my travels who knows New York and L.A so well that I keep on telling her she should write a whole dedicated blog about them. If your friends and family are really organised they may have even written notes or a diary last time they visited. Get your hands on it if you can and snoop away – take notes yourself. Mark’s cousin who lived in Barcelona has a pre-written email guide that he sends out. GENIUS. Bypass the usual tourist spots if you’ve already seen them and instead focus on food and neighbourhood recommendations; think a café to read a book in or a place to mill around with no end goal except to get a bit lost.
BE AN INSTAGRAM STALKER
Once you’ve annoyed your friends by pestering them for suggestions off the beaten track, it’s time to become an Instagram stalker. This works really well for bigger cities where there are a hive of bloggers constantly churning out location-tagged content. SWEET. If you have a gal or guy that you follow already and find yourself tapping away on their Instagram pictures then have a scroll through their feed and stories to see which spots they’re always hitting up. Chances are they won’t be the tourist hotspots and you won’t find yourself waiting an hour for a table, but instead you’ll have infiltrated the local circle. Play it cool. No ‘Instagram food photoshoot that takes 15 minutes until your food gets cold’ allowed. Nonchalant Instagram Stories only.
BUY A SUPER COOL GUIDE BOOK
Buying the relevant Wallpaper guide before we visit a place has become tradition for Mark and I, and not only do these guides look visually appealing (and are super small, so are actually good to carry around with you), they feature spots that have always impressed us – whether it be a museum suggestion or a food recommendation – but aren’t crazy, crazy busy. I’d definitely recommend. Another super cool guide book comes in the form of Cereal. There aren’t many cities included (some are available online and some in print), but they pick out the most achingly cool spots. Definitely not one to wear your bum bag too. In terms of online guides, I’m always impressed with The Guardian’s picks, which again seem a little off piste from the usual, but feature spots that your mate who lived there previously will ask upon your return if you visited. SCORE.
GO FOR A MOOCH
When all else fails, go for a wander. Explore a neighbourhood that’s attraction-free and go get a bit lost. Last time I visited New York I ended up finding a little green spot in the centre of Soho, sat on a bench and read a book. The book was so good that I ended up crying behind my sunglasses and the guy next me handed me a tissue. It was lovely. If you’re on a repeat visit then imagine that you were at home and you had the day off work – what would you do? Try and not spend 24 hours holed up in the hotel room watching U.S Netflix (which is SO MUCH better than U.K Netflix btw), but go and have a drink on a rooftop bar, spend the afternoon in a bookshop, go and get your nails done or book in for a pilates class. You’ll look like a local with a day off and no-one will even know. Just keep your guide book in your bag…
Photos by Mark & yours truly
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