That feeling of panic after you arrive slap bang in the middle of a new town or city you plan to stay in for the next few days, months or even years, is completely natural. New surroundings are exactly that, fresh and intimidating. They were for me.
But instead of letting these feelings beat you and holing yourself up in your dingy hostel or hotel room, dribbling into your socks, you can combat them by jumping straight in and begin discovering a new place at your own pace. Cope quickly with location shift and you’ll soon start getting the most out of your travel or immersion experience.
How to get started? Easier than you’d expect. All you need are a pair of big monster feet and the ability to walk a fair bit without keeling over.
Pick a Street, Any Street
Once you’ve lain down your bags, rinsed off the sweat from the ride and chucked yourself on a bed for a few hours, I’d say you’re pretty well ready to get out there and begin exploring.
Move your behind out into that light. See that oddly named street leading to god-knows-where? Get in gear and head on down it. Facing the unknown head on is the fastest way you’ll get to know a city in rapid speed, ensuring that you can cope with anything location shift throws at you.
I remember the first time I arrived in Saigon to find a city jammed with speeding kamikaze motorbikes, each one appearing hell-bent on dismembering my parts. As a result I skimped out like a little girl from on foot explorations for what almost was a few months or so. Thankfully Spain isn’t so bad, apart from the odd careering motorbike or two. But do you have to watch out, especially when walking unfamiliar roads.
Don’t make the same mistake I did in Asia and get all road-shy. Step boldly out, exercise those good ol’ tips Darth gave you about the Green Cross Code and get your wander on. You’ve as much right to be out there on the tarmac as anyone else!
Signs Are Only a Guideline
If I had my way I’d recommend jumping out and discovering a new place without a mobile, card or money to find your way back. That’s the only way you can experience the worst that could happen and know that you can still survive.
But I’m no Bear Grylls and I’d never rely on freshly squeezed elephant dung to satiate flagging energy levels. I’d much rather prefer to just give up and die than pour a monstrosity like that into my mouth.
Perhaps it’s best then to take, at the very least, some money or the name and address of where you’re staying along for the ride. Just don’t play it too safe. Not every sign has to be followed or every map to be trusted. You’re the best judge of whether something looks safe or not.
Get your creativity in gear from the get-go. You never know what you can discover about yourself with the aid of a camera. Just look how carrying one changed Colin Wright’s life; opening up new visions and perspectives.
What’s to say the same can’t happen with you? Record everything.
See everything on that first wander as a new discovery waiting to happen and you’ll most likely be surprised at what you’ll find. Each staircase is there to be climbed, each off-road track there to be followed.
Thinking outside the box and viewing location shift as a golden opportunity, with unlimited capacity for discovery, will have you settling in and creating your own stories about what’s where and what’s worth going to in no time.
Appreciate the Little Details
Clothes drying outside a block of residential flats in the midday sun aren’t the most pat-wettingly climactic of sights but its small details like these that help contextualise, what can at first be, an overwhelming or distinctly foreign experience.
Sometimes mundanity brings comfort. Seek it in whatever goddamned thing you like.
Get Out Into the Country
There’s no better place to take stock and breathe than out in the big open space and fresh air of the countryside. Might be tough if you’re in a big city, but scouting out a major park shouldn’t be too hard.
Speak to the Locals
There’s no better way to hit the ground running and cope with location shift than to make a few new friends. You’re discovery time is also time you can seize upon to speak and interact with the locals.
Don’t what to say? Say the first thing that pops into your head, people are more than willing to stop and listen. Unless you’ve got a maniacal stare!
So what better way to get acquainted with a new place, to feel less trepidation and less fear, than to jump right on in?
Not only will you find yourself having covered large swathes of a new location in next to no time, you’ll have put a few safety measures in place too. So even when you’re outside and at your most drunk, love struck or diarrhoea-stricken, you’ll always be able to find your way back home.
What do you find is the best way to fit into a new city or place?