An obvious perk of being a travel nurse is going to new places and seeing new things. For many, knowing what is available for exploration and enjoyment is a part of deciding where you are going.
One of the first things to do, even before you leave, is go to the city’s and the state’s tourism board website. They usually have links to various happenings around the area, lists of restaurants, museums and other tourist sites. You also can get guidebooks and coupons for money off admission at various attractions.
Don’t forget to look for associations tied to your interests in the city you are heading to. A local historical or art society can be a gold mine for not only museums, but also provide leads to area galleries or studios.
Browse online for local magazines and alternative newspapers. Type in “things to do” and the city’s name for many options to consider. These often offer information on choices that are not always in the mainstream.
Look Past the Obvious
Don’t forget to look past the obvious. For example, Indianapolis is known as the racing capital of the world, making a tour of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Museum a must even for non-gear heads. However, the city is also home to the world’s largest children’s museum, is second only to Washington, DC in the number of military monuments, and hosts the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s (NCAA) headquarters and Hall of Champions. Oh, and did I mention Fanimation, the fan museum?
Pinterest can be a valuable addition to anyone’s search for things to do in a new place. In addition to the large number of contributors adding their own experiences, you can be very broad in the search bar and then narrow it down as needed by using specific filters.
Although the self-diagnosing Dr. Google is not always popular with physicians, Travel Guru Google can be your friend. When you first arrive in a new city, study a Google map of the area to get an idea of what’s around you.
Tap on the three horizontal lines in the search bar and hit “Explore”. This will take you to frequently reviewed places that other users recommend, such as “best lunch” or “cheap eats”. Read what other travelers and locals have to say and save the location on the map so that you remember to check it out later.
This is useful for finding such baseline necessities as yoga studios, coffee shops, and grocery stores. You can also put in the city name and specifics such as live music, and results of relevant events will populate.
Pick a Point and Walk
Once you are in town, walk around. Pick a compass point from your housing or hospital, and just go. You will often find local shops, local bars, or a nice park to hang out. Many of these are places you might have missed using the other options. To go farther afield, grab a local bus or trolley.
Ask your colleagues where they hang out and what they like about their city. Local expertise can lead you to a pleasant surprise or two. This can also help with establishing friendships and better integrate you with the rest of your new team.
Although it may seem counter-intuitive, ask locals and co-workers where they don’t go. Remember, you are still a tourist and not a jaded local. There are some places that locals see as “just being there” - the ones they don’t always think about can still be places you need to see.
As with many other facets of life any more, there is an app for that. TripAdvisor is a catch-all app when it comes to travel. You can quickly find reviews, opinions, videos, and photos pertaining to just about anything related to your needs. Its "Near Me" function finds well-reviewed places close by.
Fodors, a well-respected, veteran travel guidebook publisher’s website, which includes information on a city, restaurants and places to go. Other long-lived and respected sites include www.Frommers.com and www.thelonelyplanet.com.
Don't forget that there are places to go, people to see and things to do outside of the place you are living. Consult a map to see what other cities and towns are in the area and consult their websites, or do your Google searches for the surrounding area.
Search on your city and “day trips” to find gems outside the city limits. Among helpful websites are theculturetrip.com and www.thecrazytourist.com.
Although your main focus will be on the work, there is no reason you can’t get out and explore all of the treasures of a new city. Why be a traveling nurse if you don’t travel?