Whether you’re backpacking or on business, arriving in any big city for the first time can be a daunting experience. The vibrancy of a global metropolis like New York, London, Paris or Rome can make for an exhilarating experience, but you’ll need to keep your wits about you.
App your map to avoid getting lost
Getting lost is a great way to attract the wrong kind of attention in a big city. When you’re in unfamiliar surroundings, you don’t want to be the obvious tourist with your big wall-chart-sized street map and a confused expression on your face. Fortunately, technology is on hand to help you out.
We’ve all be burned by expensive roaming charges, but if you get a data pack for your smartphone before your trip, Google Maps can come to your rescue when you’re having trouble finding your hotel. There are also some great apps that you can download in advance to help you explore a new city like a local, such as TripAdvisor’s City Guides and the Rough Guide City Apps. This avoids another “I’m new in town” advertisement and also cuts a bulky, heavy item from your luggage.
When it comes to steering clear of particular areas, there were rumours last year that Microsoft was working on a smartphone app that would flag “bad neighbourhoods”. After getting some negative publicity around how the app might work, the idea looks to have been shelved.
Wise up before you travel
People travel to big cities every day without losing a bag or having their wallet stolen. But if you are unlucky enough to be separated from an important possession, you can limit the damage with a little preparation.
Before any trip, you should split up your credit cards, cash, ID and other important documents so you can lose one without losing the lot. An emergency credit card in an inside pocket will mean you can swipe your way out of trouble even if your purse goes walkabout or the airline loses your suitcase.
Every big city has its popular scams. Whether it’s the Old New Orleans sting to relieve you of your shoes or “transport police” issuing on-the-spot fines to tourists with the wrong tram ticket, it pays to do a little research before you travel. This won’t make you immune to a particularly canny con artist, but you will at least be alert to the danger. This top 10 classic street scams is a good place to start.
Better insured than sorry
People often think travel insurance isn’t necessary when taking short trips, but the cost of the premium is nothing compared to the expense and hassle of sorting out a lost wallet or a trip to the local hospital on your own. If you’re travelling for work, check that there’s a company policy that covers you. If not, you can buy last minute travel insurance online at the airport.
If you want to do a bit more research of your own, you can always review the options available through Virgin Travel Insurance.