Tips for finding your way around a new city
One of the most fun parts of attending a conference is getting to travel to a new place. Conferences are often held in major metropolitan areas, so you can explore the city while you attend the conference. But it can be tricky to find your way around a new city, as any seasoned traveller will tell you! Today we're sharing some tips with you to help you find your way around and to get the most out of your conference travel.
Get to know the public transport system
Sometimes you might be able to take taxis everywhere you need to go. But often, university travel expenses won't cover you taking taxis unless they're necessary. And anyway, using public transport is a great way to get to know a new city. Before you leave for the conference, try to find a map of the pubic transport options in the city you're travelling to, and find out about tickets. Once you know this, you can use the transport to get around like a local.
Walk whenever possible
Public transport is certainly a useful way to get around. But it's even nicer to see more of the city by walking. If you're physically able to walk and you have the time, it can be a very pleasant way to get around. Even if you don't do it every day, walking from the conference to your hotel one evening will give you a different view of the city than what you'll get from transport. Pack a pair of trainers in your suitcase so that you can walk in comfort, and start exploring.
Ask your hosts for recommendations
If you want to find a nice restaurant, cafe, or place to visit, then what better way to find recommendations than to ask people who live in the city you're visiting? When you're at a conference you have a great excuse to talk to the hosting professors or students about where they like to go out in the city. Hosts will usually be delighted to share this information with you – sometimes you'll even find recommendations for places to visit in your conference packet.
Join the conference social trips
As part of the conference schedule, there will usually be social events like dinners or parties in the evenings. These events are totally optional, and you can skip them if you're extremely tired or very busy. But if you can, it's a great idea to join the social trips. As well as getting to know other attendees in a more relaxed setting, these trips give you the chance to visit places in the city that you might not see otherwise.
Give yourself plenty of travel time
One useful tip for any time you take a trip to an unfamiliar location is to make sure you always have plenty of travel time. If you're catching a train at 2:30, get there at 2:15 at the latest. If you think a walk will take 45 minutes, then leave yourself an hour. Adopting this approach will help when there are inevitable delays like when you can't find a ticket booth, or if your bus is delayed in traffic. This will mean that your travel is less stressful and you will have more time to enjoy the view as you go.
Use recommendation sites like Yelp or TripAdvisor
Finally, if you want to know where to eat dinner but you haven't got any recommendations from your hosts, then you can use websites like Yelp or TripAdvisor. These sites have recommendations for restaurants, cafes, and tourist spots in cities all over the world. The reviews are public and non expert, so take the opinions offered there with a grain of salt – but if you want to know what some really popular spots in town are then this is a great source.