Beyond the suitcase - 5 things to bring with you for a better travel experience

Whether you’re traveling for business or pleasure, and in whatever season you take off, make the most of your experience with these simple habits. Touristree’s Yota Tsilopoulou shares her secrets:

1.            Exercise - even if your daily routine features regular exercise, traveling often forces a break in the everyday schedule. Instead of the hotel facilities, why not use the city as your own personal gym? Pick a street and head uphill, or take the waterfront walkway as far as you can go. An hour of brisk walking (or even slow wandering) will open your senses as much as your muscles!

2.            Appetite - leave your normal preferences behind and let the local smells and flavors guide your meal choices. New spices and ingredients also make great souvenirs, and I find these the perfect way to relive a trip once I get back home.

3.            “Like” the locals - resolve to say a quick “Good Day” (even better in the local language) to the first five people you meet after you leave your lodgings, and don’t be afraid to ask a question or two. Most locals are pleasantly surprised when you take an interest in their city, and given the chance, will gladly direct you to their own personal “favorite” spot.

4.            Cultural curiosity - whether your hobbies tend towards music or museums, take the chance to ask about lesser-known venues. Chance conversations with barmen or baristas can lead you to places not so easily discovered, but definitely worth the trouble to find them! Hidden monuments, and underground clubs, often reveal far more of a city’s culture than the guidebooks and websites can.

5.            Keep in touch - once home, I make an effort to keep in contact with my new acquaintances. Posting photos of places and experiences helps, but also a chat or email to keep the conversation alive means that a once-foreign place is now more like a home-away-from-home!

Here in Thessaloniki, the climate and landscape lend themselves to all these practices, and the city is hospitable in many ways for many types of travelers. Signposts with distance markers are found throughout the greater downtown and residential areas, making it easy to estimate your time and location. A waterfront walk can take you almost 6 km from your dowtown starting point, with plenty of places to stop for refreshments along the way. A hike into the Upper Town will get your heart and tastebuds going strong, or stay close to home and explore the sidestreets behind the big plaza. Any direction you choose is guaranteed to be an adventure!