I have never done one of those “hop on hop off” bus tours. They seem like a great idea but the places I want to go, see and experience are not always the classic spots. My favourite way to travel is like the locals do.
I prefer to do a little research first by browsing blog posts, travel articles and instagram feeds. I then find tasty places to eat, local hot spots, and unique things to experience or see. I pick a combination of off-beat museums, places that will appeal to my family and to each person’s individual interests. It may be a Manga museum, a ballet class, a vegan soft serve shop or a hike that is short enough no one will complain.
Once I have found our destinations, then we map out getting there. The daily travel is part of the experience. In London,we traveled by double decker bus to visit my grandmother. The bus ride itself was one of my favourite tourist experiences as we drove through neighbourhood after neighbourhood seeing Camden Market, beautiful parks, old huge estates and Hampstead Heath among other sites.
On a recent trip to LA, we took Uber and Lyft to seek out some really good Mexican food. Gourmet Pigs had a recommendation that was a 20 minute ride from our hotel, but as I said before, the trip is 1/2 the fun and we will always travel for a better meal. The ride gave us a chance to take in LA’s hills and all the entertainment industry buildings. We ended up at a cute spot with a great West Coast vibe (little dogs everywhere & LA fashion that would not fly at home) and amazing tacos and cocktails at Salazar.
In Tokyo we took the metro everywhere. Thanks to Google Maps you can plug in a destination (even one in Japanese that you can neither read nor pronounce – you just have to cut and paste from the blog or Instagram location) and Google Maps will show you exactly which series of metros to take. We used it to find everything from the best Pizza in Tokyo to Carrot Tower (the cheap way of seeing Tokyo from above.)
My 1st choice is always to walk. I couldn’t resist walking from Grand Central to the Jacob Javits Center when I was in NYC recently for NY NOW even though I knew I would be walking all day inside. I like to stroll, see and soak in a city and the best way to do that is by foot.
By foot is free but not always an option. Uber and Lyft can be a more affordable way to get around than a taxi. I recommend also checking if you hotel or destination has a free or inexpensive shuttle too.
I noticed as I left the Javits Center that there was a shuttle back to Grand Central. I skipped the shuttle though because I wanted to squeeze one more stop in.
I had the MTA train schedule and ticket app so I knew I had a little time before my train departed. I had to stop at a place the kids and I stumbled upon three years ago and fell in love with: Bibble and Sip. I picked up some treats to bring home. I took an Uber there and then found my way back to Grand Central and my train was waiting for me. I checked my tickets in on the app and was ready for a train ride home.
Useful apps and tools
Uber (affiliate link)