If you and your family are traveling to a big city for the first time, you may be feeling slightly worried about the prospect of the very different travel experience you’ll have compared to your former vacations. Though it may be overwhelming at first, there are a few easy tips you can remember that will help you make the most of your trip.

Plan Ahead

Couple Planning on Traveling to a Big City for the First Time

This may seem obvious at first glance, but when preparing for a vacation you can sometimes get too excited about the main attractions you want to see and forget to plan for practicalities first. For example, if you’re booking cheap flights in August, you should start doing some research in the spring or early summer. It’s wise to get a good idea of the area you’ll be staying in and how the public transportation in the area works ahead of time. You can figure out how to get to specific stations and look at maps once you’re at your hotel and planning your daily activities. But subway and bus stations are hectic, confusing, and crowded. If you know what kind of tickets you need to buy and how and where to purchase them you’ll cause less aggravation to local commuters and draw less attention to yourselves as confused tourists.

Have a Map, But Don’t Keep Looking at It

Woman Traveling to a Big City for the First Time With Map

Of course, we all need maps to find our way, but try your best not to whip out your spanking new guidebook or huge fold-out map in the middle of a crowded city block. Looking down at your smartphone instead of looking where you’re going with your own two feet also falls into this category. Not only are you probably blocking pedestrian traffic, but you’re also an obvious target for people trying to take advantage or rob unsuspecting tourists. Pop into a coffee shop or drug store and browse casually while you get your bearings in a safer environment.

Find Yourself an Insider

This is a great travel tip for anywhere you’re going but it’s especially helpful in a big city environment. Large cities have so much going on and so much to offer, you don’t want to miss out on something you would have especially enjoyed because you couldn’t find it in a guidebook. Ask around or seek out friends of friends to help you find that super special underground you’ve been searching for.

Travel Light

Traveling light when you’re traveling to a big city for the first time is key. Never is this more convenient than when wheeling your luggage through busy city streets, and you’re out of luck if you arrive in your city during lunchtime or rush hour. It’s hell. Try to pack as light as possible and most importantly have luggage you can pick up quickly and carry if necessary.

Take Walks During the Day

Man Traveling to a Big City for the First Time and Walking

If the city you’re going to is walk-friendly, this can be a fun family activity in itself. Plus, it’s a great way to get around while getting some exercise, which is great for travelers of all ages. Also, you’ll get to explore the city! Walking during the day will give you a good idea of what areas you should avoid after dark. But, keep in mind that doing research on the city’s neighborhoods beforehand is important. Another advantage of walking rather than driving is that you’ll beat the traffic! Of course, you may still have to deal with crowds on the city’s sidewalks, but it will still get you there faster.

Always Take Steps to Protect Your Valuables

Even if the city that you’re visiting has a fairly low crime rate, it’s always extra important to protect your valuables when you’re in a major city. Keep in mind that thieves often target people who stand out as tourists, which makes it important to blend in as much as possible. Avoid walking around with flashy jewelry, expensive handbags, clothing, or accessories. Also, you’ll need to make sure that you carefully protect all valuable items in your hotel room during the day. Luckily, many hotel rooms offer a safe. With that being said, never store valuables in your room without a safe.

Plan Multiple Activities in the Same Area

Woman Traveling to a Big City for the First Time Crossing the Street

It’s much easier to get around if you plan multiple activities in the same part of the city. Not only that, but you’ll be able to spend more time doing the things you enjoy. You’ll also be able to save money on gas since you won’t be driving around as much. Ideally, it’s best to make sure that you reach the section of the city that you want to go to and then walk to the rest of your destinations. However, this is not possible in all cities. Some tend to be much more pedestrian-friendly than others.

Use Public Transit to Get Around

Man Traveling to a Big City for the First Time by Bus

If you’ve never been to a big city before, one thing that you’re likely to be taken aback by is how difficult it can be to get around. Luckily, public transit offers an easy, cheap, and effective alternative. That’s because you’ll be able to get on a bus, subway, or train to get just about anywhere in most major cities. While the route may not take you to your exact destination, you’ll usually be able to get there with a relatively short walk. Additionally, public transit can be exceptionally fast. In fact, it’s often possible to get where you want to go much more quickly by taking a subway or train than driving. This is especially true during rush hour and other times when you can expect lots of traffic.

Try to Avoid Looking Like a Tourist

Couple Traveling to a Big City for the First Time as Tourists

If you’re in an unfamiliar city, it’s important to make sure that the way you dress blends in with the locals. If you’re traveling to another country, this is likely to involve a significant amount of research before you reach your destination. However, making sure that you don’t look like a tourist is a little more complicated than this. It will be important to familiarize yourself with the local culture. Keep in mind that there can be significant regional differences in certain countries. Also, there can be differences in the culture of different regions of a specific city. In some cases, these differences can be quite substantial, especially if you’re traveling to a city that’s very multicultural.

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