Guest Post By: Katie McBeth
You’ve moved into your new apartment in your new city for your next big travel nurse adventure. You’ve unpacked and gotten comfortable, and you’ve found your way to the office and back. You’ve made it, and you’re ready for your new assignment!
But … now what?
Now that you’ve gotten settled, it’s time to really branch out and explore your new temporary home. Half the excitement of being a travel nurse is seeing a brand new part of the world, so why not explore when you have the time? Here are five tips on how to properly explore and experience your new city:
1.) Be A Tourist
When it comes to exploring your new city, don’t shy away from the idea of becoming a tourist for a day. Particularly if you’re staying in one of the bigger metropolitan areas of the United States, there are plenty of sites and attractions that can fill up your days. If you’re staying in a smaller town, there are more than likely still some lovely tourist spots to check out.
Mostly, take advantage of whatever free tourist attractions there may be in your area. For example, if you’re in the San Diego area, there are plenty of free activities that draw in tourists from all over, including brewery tours, scenic beaches, beautiful historic parks, and nationally renowned forests just outside of town. Embrace your inner explorer, and take advantage of the local fare while you can. It might even help you find your new favorite restaurant or hangout spot!
If you’re willing to spend a little money, you can check to see if your town offers tourist passes. The passes vary depending on the city, but many of them combine public transportation, admission to popular museums, and discounts at shops all onto one card for a select amount of days (typically one to five days). This way, you can save money on the price of admission and get all your tourist travels out of the way in a single weekend.
2.) Create a Mission
When you arrive in your new town, you might feel a bit intimidated. Especially if it’s a big city, where are you supposed to start exploring?
One of the best ways to overcome this obstacle is to sit down and draw out a mission. Do you want to find the cheapest grocery store? Do you want to figure out the public transportation system? Maybe you want to try to find the rainbow bagels everyone is talking about in Brooklyn.
Whatever your mission is, sit down, plan it out, and then execute it. Use local transportation if it’s available to you so you can learn the ins and outs of the system. This will also come in handy if your car ever breaks down, or you want to go out for drinks and not spend money on a cab. Also, make sure you have a way to find yourself in case you get lost. The last thing you need is to find yourself in an alleyway with no cellphone coverage and no idea which way is up.
However, creating a mission and setting out to do little tasks at a time can really help you fully explore the new city. You’ll be able to ground yourself, know your surroundings a little better, and find your way through tough situations if they ever arise in the future.
3.) Learn the History
Each town has its own story, and you won’t fully be able to appreciate the town until you know its history. You might be able to find some of that history in the local parks and museums, but the real hidden gem of every city is its library.
That’s right: books! Whether you’re traveling with your family or just by yourself, take advantage of the free local library and read up on the town’s history. Most libraries will have sections devoted just to local legends and significant people, and librarians are more than happy to help you dive into the legacy of your new town. They also can suggest popular places to explore, if you want to get more hands-on experience.
Although not every town will have as an in-depth history as Boston or New York City, your new city will no doubt offer up some unique surprises. Diving into history will help you discover its hidden gems.
4.) Live Like the Locals
Once you get your tourism bug out of the way, you’ll want to get fully settled into your new town. Although you might only be there for a few months at a time, sometimes playing a tourist can be exhausting. Instead, start to make the transition to “local.” One of the best ways to do this is to chat with other locals in the area.
Ask your coworkers where their favorite spots to eat out are located, and chat with the people you meet around town for further suggestions. Find out what food is considered the “local fare” and explore the various restaurants that specialize in that food.
Visit the farmers market (almost every town has one in the summer), explore the outdoors around the town, and volunteer with local groups to really get comfortable with your new environment. Volunteering is not only rewarding but opens up plenty of opportunities to meet new people and help those in need. Additionally, as a nurse, it will help you become more familiar with the communities you’re serving and how they live their day-to-day lives. It can help you improve your own cultural awareness. Join an interfaith group or volunteer for a “rake the town” event, and contribute to the community like a local.
5.) Be Spontaneous
In the end don’t make plans, because one of the best ways to explore your new city is simply to go on spontaneous outings. Getting invited out to after-shift drinks with a work colleague? Have an opportunity to visit a museum for free? Or maybe you simply want to go on a walk and happen to find the perfect little coffee shop just around the corner from you? Embracing spontaneous outings might be the ticket to truly exploring your new city.
Wherever you are stationed for the next few months, every new town has its own host of hidden gems. Sometimes taking the time to explore those areas can be the best way to unwind after a long shift. Take care of yourself, become an explorer, and embrace your new temporary town!
Watch for part 2 of this series of the best ways to explore your new city.