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I’m inspired to travel when I hear other people share stories of their adventures. So here’s the next installment of our weekly series where the Million Mile Secrets team shares their travel successes (and failures) with you!
Jason: When I’m in a new city, I enjoy seeing the major tourist attractions. But they are usually some of the most expensive options as far as entertainment goes.
Plus, once you’ve seen the city’s cathedral or famous monument, what do you do with the rest of your time?
Whenever I find myself in a new city (or an old city I want to experience in a new way!), these are the 4 things I do to find adventure.
Create Your Own Awesome (and Affordable!) Experiences
Finding excitement in a new place does NOT mean you have to spend a lot of money. In fact, sometimes it’s just the opposite!
1. Find an Obscure, Strange, or Out-Of-The-Way Place
I love tourist attractions as much as the next guy. But eventually, I want to see a city’s hidden treasures, too.
If I’m in Boston, I’ll check out the Museum of Fine Arts or the Harvard Museum of Natural History. But at some point, I’ll make it to the Museum of Bad Art, where ~90% of submissions are rejected for being too good.
These are the sites I use to find odd attractions:
- Atlas Obscura – The best resource for everything from unique architecture to quirky foods
- Roadside America – Find the best roadside attractions in the US, like the Gays, IL 2-story outhouse
- Weird US – The website isn’t as extensive as the books, but can still be helpful
2. Eat a Great Breakfast or Brunch
It’s easy to eat the hotel’s free breakfast every morning. Especially for all of us thrifty folks in the miles & points hobby!
But I suggest getting out and finding a great breakfast, at least once, in every city you visit. Because when you’re looking for great food, dinner is MUCH more expensive than a quality breakfast. Plus, you can get a fancy breakfast for a fraction of the cost of an extravagant dinner. And you generally won’t need reservations for breakfast!
When I’m looking for the best place to grab breakfast, I’ll check review sites like TripAdvisor or Yelp. And sometimes, other sites like TimeOut, Thrillist, or Zagat, will have a good article covering a city’s best breakfasts.
Once you’ve found a few great options, narrow down your choices based on who has the best pancakes. Because you’ll NEVER be wrong when you’re chasing the best pancakes. 😉
When all else fails, go where the line is. If other people are willing to wait 45 minutes to an hour for brunch, there is a good reason why.
3. Stay Someplace Cheap
I love using miles & points for luxury travel I wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford. But as nice as it is to be pampered, I’ve found that meeting people is my favorite part of traveling. And when you’re holed up in a nice hotel, you’re a lot less likely to be interacting with other travelers!
In my experience, the cheaper the accommodation, the more likely you are to find community. So save your points and consider staying at a hostel, campground or Airbnb.
Any place with a shared kitchen is a great way to meet like-minded folks. And getting advice from other travelers will make it much easier (and more fun!) to navigate the area.
4. Slow Down With a Walking or Bike Tour
You can get to know a place faster if you slow down. So take a day and have a walk or bike ride around the city.
There is no shortage of free walking or bike tour routes on the internet. But if you’re stuck, I suggest GPSmyCity, which has tour routes for 100s of cities all over the world.
Some tours aren’t rated as highly as others, so read the reviews before heading out!
If you prefer to have a professional show you around, but don’t want to spend a lot of money, try Free Tours By Foot. They offer tours with licensed guides for no upfront cost! You simply pay what you want at the end of your tour.
When you’re visiting a new place or rediscovering a familiar town, you don’t have to spend a lot of money to uncover the secrets a particular spot has to offer.
Also, don’t forget to have a memorable breakfast wherever you go. Because everyone should eat more pancakes. 😉
How do you find a city’s hidden gems? Please let me know in the comments!