More often than not, my solo travels take me by car, by plane and by train to destinations that I would not have had the opportunity to see otherwise. I saw Manhattan on the first anniversary of 9/11 and the two light columns striking their way through the sky. I have seen the Bay Tour of San Francisco on a clear day because our pilot requested it. I have seen towns and cities at night and wondered who was below that was looking up at the blinking red light in the sky wondering who could be looking down from there. This weekend, I had a unique opportunity to see a city in a way I hadn't in a while. I walked.
Now, walking solo is not for the faint of heart. It does take a bit more than a keen sense of direction to make your way around an unfamiliar city. So here are my top 5 tips for solo travel walking tours.
1. Its all about the shoes.
I brought 2 pairs of shoes with me this trip: loafers and super-comfortable Nunn Bush sandals that have been in my shoe arsenal since last summer. I left the loafers and opted for the sandals. I walked for at least 4 hours around Salem, Massachusetts without sitting and never skipped a beat. It was fantastic, even in November.
2. Get your bearings.
A decent map can save you when you're doing a walking tour, but so can Google! Google Maps or any other mapping app can help you navigate unfamiliar territory - as long as you have the addresses of where you're going. Use Google Maps to plot out what addresses you want to visit, and plan for plenty of walking time between destinations - and browsing in case any cute shops catch your eye!
3. Don't forget your bag.
When you're walking, anything you get gets packed with you. If you are a notorious shopper, this is a great way to keep your purchases in check! It's a great day to focus on jewelry. You also need to remember your water. Stay hydrated when you're walking.
4. Park centrally.
Choose your parking spot carefully, especially if you have to pay to park and keep an eye on the meter time. In case you have to run back to pay for extra time, you won't be crossing the entire town to do it.
5. Top it with a great meal.
Any great walking tour should end with a great meal. Ask shop clerks for their opinions of where they would go for a bite to eat in the area. I've never had a bad recommendation.