Slow Down and Have a Real Trip
Slow down and smell the roses. Know that you will be returning another time. Realize that every neighborhood has its own story and its own glory. It's up to you to stop and embrace it.
Every first-time traveler makes the mistake of trying to do too much, see too much, and ends up short-changing themselves.
I was fortunate on my first trip to Europe to be on a high school German Class tour that did it right.
I spent the first week of the trip in a small town in northern Germany called Springe. It's located about 22 kilometers (14 mi) southwest of Hanover. It was the perfect introduction to the German culture.
Since we were all German students, we could communicate with the locals without too much difficulty. In fact our teacher had arranged for each one of us to have a German pen pal.
My pen pal was Petra Ziegenhagen. She was pretty, blond girl also in high school who was great help in explaining a few of the surprises we found in Germany. One was a proliferation of motor scooters and motorized bicycles that made us Americans laugh. We called them, “Buzzers” since that's what they sounded like. Petra explained that in small towns, it was an easier form of transportation to use. Parking places were at a premium in Europe, since everything was closer together here than in America.
This of course made it easy to explore the town.
I learned a valuable lesson that the slower I go, say, walking or bicycling, the more I saw and the more fun I had.
Big and fast was bad and expensive, where slow and easy was magic. Slow down.
So my suggestion for first-time travelers is to pick a city or town to stay in for the first couple days or better yet a week.
There is plenty to see and a lot of culture to absorb. Culture shock, travel logistics, real-time adventures, touring the sites, strolling at dusk and meeting the locals are all much easier to deal with in this manner. It's so nice to return to the same hotel, night after night, and not having to worry about trying to do and figure out everything at the same time.
Slow down. Relax. Learn. Paris is just one big set of villages. London has great neighborhoods. Amsterdam is bicycle friendly as it gets. So is Munich, surprisingly. Metros and undergrounds zip you around cities without any problems.
Museums, restaurants and bands playing in the park are there for your amusement and joy. But it takes time to find these, to discover what's best. Rome was not built in a day and neither are your first attempts at travel in a foreign land.
So slow down, enjoy and have a great trip.
Here is a quick list of Travel Secrets I found out about on my trips. I hope it helps you in your search for better travel:
Go to the Page on My Way to Travel
Nervous about travel?
Travel is Scary
Learn to Like Yourself as You Are
Time Slows Down when Traveling
KISS - Keep It Simple Stupid
The Power of the Open Question
Ask the Unbusy Police Officer
Ask the Locals - They know
Listening - An Important Skill in Travel
Contrast the Old and the New
Some Unusual Travel Insights
Be a Good Guest
Take a Walk - Relax - Enjoy Good Travel
Get Lost on a Bus - I Dare You
Change Course - Follow Someone Else's Idea of a Good Trip
Good Exercise is a Travel Bonus
Interacting with Children in a Foreign Land
Treatment of Americans Abroad
After All - It's Your Vacation