How to get your bearings quickly in an unfamiliar place

Travelling for work can mean you get to see a lot of places and some of them are world-class cities. This is an exciting way of life, but being transported to bustling metropolises with just a few days or even hours to get yourself acquainted with the area and a job to do, can be a little daunting.

With this in mind, we thought we would supply you with a selection of travel hacks to make getting your bearings as easy as possible. Some of them can be set up before you leave home, while others will help you in situ. Good luck and happy exploring.

Load your phone with apps

If you know you’re going to be heading to a new city in a few days’ time, take a look at apps that can be loaded into your phone in advance. There should always be a map one and another for helping you with public transport. This will enable you to plan any journey within the city with ease. Doing it in advance will also maximise your productivity when you arrive.

Plot your landmarks

Choose three large and instantly recognisable landmarks – there are usually some fairly obvious one to choose from in most cities – and work out where they are on your map. If you can pick ones that vaguely form a triangle it will help you to locate where you are in relation to these throughout your stay. In The City of London, we recommend St Paul’s Cathedral, The Gherkin and London Bridge.

Get up high

It’s all well and good looking at the two-dimensional layout of a city on a map, but nothing compares to obtaining a viewpoint where you can see everything in three-dimensional real life. This can mean climbing to the top of a hill or tower, which takes a little effort, but will make it much easier to understand what you are seeing and the distances involved when you return to ground level.

Ask a local

Nothing compares to being shown around by a local or offered a few top tips, so if you know somebody in the city, hit them up to help you out. Even if they can’t spare much time, just getting directions from a resident can be much easier to follow than a map, so don’t be afraid to ask anyone you come across.

A view from the roof

While open-top bus tours may seem a little touristy, they are now available in loads of cities. If you are going to be in a destination for a few weeks or returning on a regular basis, get yourself a ticket and spend an afternoon seeing all the sites. This many seem like a jolly, but you’ll be amazed how it helps you to plot the city and means that when asking for directions you’ll know many of the landmarks that are referred to.

Give yourself enough time

If you have completed everything on this list you will be getting to know your new location pretty well, but just remember that it can be daunting to try and get somewhere quickly if you’ve never been before. Giving yourself enough time to get a little lost before an important meeting will help to keep stress levels down and allow you to think carefully about where you’ve gone wrong. You are new to the city after all, so cut yourself a bit of slack.



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