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5 Tips for seeing New Towns

As I was standing in the airport this morning at an hour I care not to repeat (I don't like to swear), the lovely morning crew at McDonald's reminded me that I had been traveling a lot lately. I think this is my 13th or 14th solo trip this year, in fact. And it's not yet May.

Frequent solo trips can become repetitive and, quite frankly, uninspiring. As an intrepid solo traveler, I've come to enjoy a few things, and one of them happens to be not planning my trip much - if at all - if I can avoid it.

Now I don't advocate standing in your driveway and flipping a coin to decide if you'll head east or west on the closest interstate for EVERY vacation (even I'm not that crazy), but I do advocate when you plan time off, especially if it's an infrequent thing, or have to take another business trip, especially if that's a frequent thing, to leave a bit up to chance. Nothing that would compromise safety, but a few surprises here and there are good for the soul.

Today, I crawled on a plane that was leaving at an extremely early hour, bound for the desert southwest. The 85 degree weather is a welcome respite from the unseasonably cold spring that we're experiencing in Idaho. The trees are blooming, the breeze kisses your face instead of sucking your skin dry, and people are happily running around in shorts, sandals, and sunglasses. And today, I'm happy to join them.

I had 4 hours prior to my first commitment once I landed - and I had no plans. None. Zero. Four hours in a town you're not entirely familiar with presents a solo traveler with the following options:

1. Go to the hotel and ask if you can check in early. Considering I landed at 7:30 am, I didn't think the hotel would appreciate seeing me before 9 AM, when check-in is 6 hours later.

2. Go find a coffee shop, scrunch into a chair, and enjoy reading the paper. Check. Did that. But four hours of that - no.

3. Go find a Target or some other retailer and peruse the local shopping. I had challenges with that plan - it was a Sunday morning, so my options were pretty much coffee shops and breakfast places, but had it been a day when shops opened at 9, I would've been all over that plan.

4. Since it was Sunday, I did contemplate crashing a church service... and then thought the better of it as I looked at my t-shirt and Tevas. But definitely an option to consider.

5. Plan enough time for two stops. Coffee and then a bit later, lunch. I am lucky that one of my favorite burger joints is prevalent in the Valley of the Sun - In-n-Out Burger! The crew - even at 10:45am - at the Frank Lloyd Wright location in Scottsdale is superb! If you're ever here, check it out.

My first meeting is in 40 minutes, and then I have a couple of hours to my blissful self before the next commitment. I wonder where the road will take me then?

Safe travels.

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