Today while taking a shower during the last day of my trip to Japan, I was thinking about the different approaches to traveling, and I came to the conclusion that when getting to know a new city one either takes a deductive or an inductive approach.
Deductive would be when you make extensive research on the city prior to experiencing it, you have an idea of where the important places are at, and it’s after visiting them that you get the feel of what that city is about. This is what most of us do when traveling.
I want to talk about taking a different approach. Instead of doing prior research of the city, just go. You’ll find yourself feeling the city first, and as it unfolds in front of you, you’ll easy figure out what are the important places. Feeling first, important sightseeing afterwards.
I like this approach because:
- You’ll interact with locals. You practically are forced to, since you have no idea of where to go, they’re your best bet at figuring it out. This has worked brilliantly for me in the past, I’ve found many little places you’d never hear of otherwise, the best little bars and hostels. Sometimes I’ve been invited to someones home for food and I’ve even been offered housing, which often results in friendships that continue well long after the trip.
- You’ll be more observant. Since you need to be alert to any opportunities, your senses will be awake the whole time, and you’ll absorb the city more openly.
- Adventure. The obvious one. When you’re up for anything, you’re up for an adventure. In Cuzco, after jamming in the streets for a couple of hours with two musicians I was invited to their home in the mountains, which was a once in a lifetime experience.
When I traveled to Barcelona earlier this year, I had no idea of where to go or what to do, I did zero research on the city. All I knew was I’d get the bus from the airport to the city center, I could take it anywhere from there. During my 1 week stay I slept in three different hostels, played guitar on the streets, drank wine well past midnight and had brilliant conversations, all with people I intend to stay friends for a very long time. And most importantly, I believe I grasped a great feel of what Barcelona is all about.