Adapting to a new place

Travelling consists of a lot of moving around and visiting new locations. Before travelling, how did you feel in your home city? Comfortable? At ease? Of course! You have spent a long time there getting to know the location. Travelling throws you into brand new countries and cities that may differ completely from what you are used to. Taking yourself out of your comfort zone is an important aspect of life that can challenge you and bring out strengths that you would never have known existed if it wasn’t for this experience.

Some people can arrive in a new place with complete ease and adapt immediately. Others need a few pointers to get going. There is no shame in this. Arriving in a new place can be really overwhelming, so it is important to do a little preparation beforehand to help you arrive with confidence. I know that I like to do quite a lot of preparation before visiting somewhere. As well as getting me excited about the trip, it gives me vital information that is required to be safe and also have a good time.

Exploring the ruins of Angkor Wat, on my own, gave me a lot of confidence in dealing with the organisation and safety of my trip

Google Maps

Using Google maps before you arrive can be vital, especially if you’re not going to have internet access on arrival. Whilst you are using Wi-Fi, download the map of the place to use offline. Usually you would select a place to visit because of something that is there, an attraction or particular experience. You can pin point on your offline map where these sites are to get an idea of how far away they are from each other. This is a really useful tool to help you get your bearings before you even arrive!

Find the Rhythm

It is important to find the rhythm of a place when you first arrive. Once you have dropped your bag at your hotel/hostel etc. try not to hide away in your room. If it is day time and you aren’t too tired from travelling, go out and find a place to sit and relax. A park or a Café can be a really great place to start. It allows you to watch what is happening around you. If you are somewhere where there are markets, this is also a great opportunity to mingle with the crowds, local and travellers alike.

The Walking Street in Pai is on every night and it’s a great place to meet people and get some local food

Watch how people converse. Watch how the traffic moves. Maybe then you can talk a short walk to get a visual layout of the area. If you slow travel then you can spend the first couple of days doing this. It can be a good opportunity to match the pace and vibe of a place. Using public transport is also a really great way to infuse yourself into local life. Public transport routes tend to take longer as well meaning you will see a lot of areas you maybe wouldn’t if you were walking.

Be Social

Meeting people is an integral part of travelling and there are so many ways to do it. Also, there are heaps of benefits. Not only can you meet friends for life and make beautiful connections, but you can also feel safer as part of a group of travellers. This can help build your confidence to do more things on your own in a new place. If you are staying at a hostel this is easy! Introducing yourself and inviting someone out with you is a natural thing to do in that environment. It could be that the person you meet is travelling, but may also actually be from that country and can make the cultural norms easier to adapt to.

In Saigon, this lovely family invited us into their home for lunch and took us down the Mekong River

Obviously, if you are not staying in a hostel then there are other ways to meet people. In fact, there are a variety of ways! One of the easiest ways is literally to just talk to people around you. Talk to waiters, café visitors, and people at bus stops and shops. Socialising with the right people can open up so many doors. Something I love to do when I travel is take cooking classes. I love trying new cuisines, so it’s something that gives me some peace and enables me to meet like-minded people. Find something that you like to do. When you are feeling overwhelmed by the new situation, it can be a great moment to do something specific that you know makes you happy.

This cooking class, in Siem Reap, was an intimate setting with just 3 of us. It allowed us to better get to know each other

Be Confident

It is important to exude a bit of confidence when you arrive in a new place, whether or not you actually feel it. ‘Fake it until you make it’ is a saying I’ve heard a lot, especially when it comes to solo travel. Try not to act timid around other people and make sure your voice is heard when you speak. Although the majority of people are good and kind, you want to make sure that no one sees you as a target to take advantage of. Naturally, I am an introvert and, as such, can lack confidence in new places and around new people. In the first few weeks of my travels I was really scared to go places on my own. However, I pushed through this fear and forced myself into situations that I usually wouldn’t. Eventually, the confidence I was faking became real and my fears just melted away as I began to trust myself and my instincts.

Use Apps

 Another way to get a good grasp on local life is to use the Meet Locals App. These experiences can be free or cost money. However, you can have a great time with a local and they are usually more than happy to give you tips. Another app that is quite popular is Couchsurfing. If you feel confident, you can use this app to stay with local people in exchange for help around the house or some particular chore. Sometimes it’s not about an exchange of ‘work’, but also about locals who just love to meet new people too. There are a tonne of Apps out there that are all geared towards travellers. Explore them and see if there is anything that suits you.

Although arriving in a new place can sometimes be intimidating, it is also really exciting and can get the adrenaline pumping! When you first arrive try not to panic and remain focused on what you need to do to organise yourself. Once you have done this let the experience flow. The suggestions above aren’t absolutely vital to adapting to a new place, but they can help you when you are feeling a bit out of sorts. Remember the reasons why you are travelling and the freedom it allows you. Feel the positivity of a new place when you arrive.

Happy travelling friends!