I’m a firm believer in trusting your instincts, turning down random roads just because they look interesting and getting absolutely everything out of every place you go. It’s why we made the Getting Lost Game – to make it easier for people to dwell, to give them an excuse to explore and adventure no matter where they were. But we still seem to put these adventures on weekends rather than bring them into the week day.
How many times have you been on work trips and just gone straight to the meeting and then home? Worse yet, how many times have you stayed in your motel room and ordered in? Stop it right now! Motel rooms are boring. Plan to spend as little time in there as possible. And if you are lucky enough to get to travel with work embrace every second you have in a new city without work and get out there and explore! Don’t let this be the only picture you bring home with you!
This year I’ve been very lucky with travel in my day job – I’ve been to Singapore, Christchurch and Wellington this year! Rather than treat it as a chore and stay closeted in my hotel room I’ve chosen to embrace it and get the most out of every second I’m in a new city.
So here are my tips to make the most of a short stay (or a work stay) in a new city.
Set your alarm early
If you’ve only got a few days in a city why would you want to waste them sleeping! Amazing things happen at the start of the day. The city looks entirely different before it’s woken up.
I set my alarm early in Wellington and went for a walk along the waterfront. I’ve always loved the Wellington waterfront – there’s nothing like it. The wind pushing back against you. The reminders as you look to the water below you in the places where it is visible that you are walking on reclaimed land. Those hearty Wellingtonians out already running and new businesses popping up everywhere.
Take a detour in your Uber
The best place to watch the sun rise in Wellington is Mount Vic. It’s a long walk though and even though I’m a fan of early starts when travelling (see point above) that’s maybe a little too early. So I did the sensible thing and paid the Uber driver to stop at the top of Mount Vic to watch the sunrise on the way to the airport. It added about $10 on to my bill and it was so worth it!
Take the long way to your meetings
I adore Christchurch. It’s such a beautiful city and it seems almost criminal to go there without seeing some of this beauty. So I took the long way to my meetings! I went for a stroll along the Avon before my early morning meeting. I stopped and read all the new street art popping up over the city.
Press all the interesting buttons on the lift in the hotel
How do people not do this??? Your room in a hotel is such a small part of the story. Look in the lobby, the gym, the pool, the members only floor, the rooftop. There is so much to explore by just pressing buttons randomly on the hotel lift.
Sunset or sunrise?
Every city has a perfect spot to watch the sunset or rise (and if you are really lucky both!) Find out where it is and get yourself there to watch the best (free) show in town.
Catch up with friends
If you are lucky enough to go to a city where you have friends make sure you catch up with them. I’ve had the best mid week catch up’s and drinks with friends on work travels this year just by making the effort to book in those after work drinks.
Make the most of jet lag
Going walking while the city is still asleep is incredible. You will be amazed at how different it looks. I woke up at 4am in Singapore and decided to go exploring in Chinatown. It looks so different before the sun comes up.
I was talking to a Singapore local who said even they had never visited Chinatown that early in the morning.
Don’t settle for in room dining!
Yes it’s easy and yes, it’s awkward explaining that it really is just you for dinner but you get to experience so much more by going out for dinner.
Stopping has always been what I do.
I once detoured on my way to work to take pictures of the fog that blanketed the city. I can’t remember what time I got to work that day but I do remember I won an award for that picture.
Another time I stopped to take a picture of this boat. It was the opposite way that I was supposed to be going but I found out years later that my great, great Grandfather had died on that boat. More on that story over here…
When I was 24 I lived in Brooklyn (not the New York variety, but the hills of Wellington kind). Each morning I would walk through Central Park and eye up the swings. But I was dressed in heels and a work dress with loads of other suited and booted people walking by. I couldn’t possibly. Until one morning I just did. I was hesitant at first but then I closed my eyes and it didn’t matter. The ants raced by me uncaring on their way to their important jobs but I had broken free of the ant line. It could do without me for a few minutes. And I was going to be unstoppable that day (and all the days I stopped after that) because of that swing. It’s impossible not to smile and feel alive with the gravity pushing your face back and oxegyn rushing into your lungs. Bring that to work everyday.
We made the Getting Lost Game to help you on those days that you need inspiration and a spark to find something new. And that includes when you get to a new city for work (or even just on the way home from work). Keep a pack in your bag and when you’ve next got an hour or so spare start pulling out some random cards – you never know where you’ll end up! My favourite time I got lost on a work holiday – getting lost on Sentosa Island in Singapore!