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5 Tips for Exploring a New City on a Budget

As much as we love spending time in nature, there is so much to explore in a city! At FE Active, we're all about The Journey Forward, and that means embarrassing new experiences - no matter where you are!

Regardless of which part of the world you want to visit, you'll eventually come across a city you'll fall in love with, and will want to explore to your full capabilities and with as much time as you can devote.

Today, we are looking at the Top 5 Tips for Exploring a New City on a Budget - and how you can get the most of your time exploring these urban delights.

#1 Public Transportation

One of the most expensive parts of traveling is getting around. When visiting a new city, don't fall into the trap of taking a taxi everywhere you go. We always say "think like a local".

What does this mean?

It means, pretend you live there. How would you get around? How do locals get around? Can you walk? Is there transit? Taxi alternatives (like Uber)?

Choosing public transit like buses, trains, and subways are a great alternative to hailing a cab - and will save you mega bucks! Many large cities offer multi-day, unlimited use bus and subway tickets, design specifically with tourists in mind, so be on the lookout for these as you plan your trip.

See if you are staying in a location that offers great walkability. Walking not only saves you money, but provides you the opportunity to find shops and stalls you wouldn't come across other ways. Plus, it is great exercise!

Pro Tip: Plan ahead by having an app that will help you get around. Instead of downloading a specific transit app for the city, use google maps. You are able to plan out your route ahead of time to reduce the stress and uncertainty. Did you know you can download the map to use without the internet? This app also allows you to use GPS (even without data) to help you locate yourself on the map.

#2 Leave Spare Time in Your Day

It's not uncommon to cram as many things into your trip as possible. We all have that "must-accomplish" list that we'd like to check off on our vacation, but don't overdo it. Over planning often means rushing, which can lead to simply "getting things done" instead of enjoying what you're doing.

When planning a trip, schedule 4-6 hours of activities per day, leaving the rest of the day free. Use this time for unplanned exploration and "free time". By following these guidelines, you should find your day runs smoother, and if you happen to get delayed at anytime, it won't throw off your entire day.

Pro Tip: As you're exploring town, be sure to talk with locals. Chances are, they'll suggest something that didn't make it on your radar. Use these extra "unplanned" hours to visit these locations and fit them into your schedule.

#3 Try Local Food and Drink

Food. It's the one commonality that connects cultures from around the globe. As you travel, be sure to take the time to explore the local food and drink. Finding food unique to the city (or area) is one of the best ways to connect with your new surroundings.

Not sure where to eat? There are several things that can help.

  1. Use apps (like Yelp) to review food and drink locations. Consider the reviews left by others to help determine if this location is right for you

  2. Consider specialty restaurants. In Texas? Choose a place that specializes in BBQ. Finding yourself in Tokyo? Stop at a place that is 100% dedicated to sushi sushi. In Mexico City? Skip the restaurants and find a popular food cart for the best tacos in town.

  3. Ask around. As you're touring the city (and going through museums, historic sites and other attractions) ask the employees for recommendations. As (most) employees who work at these locations are local, they often have insider information of the best (and cheapest) places to get food, drink and entertainment.

Pro Tip: Follow the locals. Wondering which restaurants are worth stopping at? A general rule of thumb is to do as locals do. They'll often lead you to the best food, with reasonable prices. If you're in a third-world country, following the locals often means finding a food stall or restaurant where the meat is cooked properly, the water is clean, and your risk of acquiring food poisoning is less. Go where it's busy.

#4 Bundle Your Activities

Many large cities will offer activity bundles to some of the most popular tourist attractions in town. Buying passes (like the CityPass, Go City or HFX Bucket List Pass) will help keep your pocket book happy, while still allowing you to the visit the "Must-See" places on your list.

Pro Tip: Many tourist locations (museums, art galleries) have free or discounted nights. Take advantage of these (when possible) to save even more money!

#5 Stay Local

Most city centers are filled with high priced, luxury hotels. Although these options are great for many, if you're looking at saving a few bucks without compromising location, be sure to look at other accommodation options.

Options like hostels, Airbnb's and home shares can be a great. If you have access to public transit, or even your own vehicle, consider staying slightly out of downtown and commute in. You may be a little further out, but your accommodations should be a lot better priced.

Pro Tip: Did you know that some cities have campgrounds within their limits? If you enjoy camping and you brought your FE Active Grindavik or Escondido Tent with you, consider staying at a campground! This may be the most economical option available!

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