I am preparing to head out for a business trip to Athens, Greece, this weekend. Having been there several times already, I know the city pretty well. However, colleagues of mine who have never been are very excited about painting the town and seeing all the ancient ruins.
I admit that spending a day out exploring a new city is certainly a thrill. But being ill equipped during your excursion can sometimes put a damper on things. I would like to share my top list of essentials to have with you for a big day out.
Comfortable shoes and socks
The last time I went to the Acropolis, I remember seeing women struggling on the uneven terrain with high heel shoes (bless those committed fashionistas). One thing you can usually count on during a day of sightseeing is lots of walking, which can be miserable if your feet ache.
Wear fancy shoes if you must, but also tote along sturdy shoes to change into when (not if) your feet start hurting. Equally important are socks, since blisters and chafing from shoes rubbing against bare skin can bring a grown man to tears.
Sunscreen and hat
Being out in the blazing sun or even wind and cold can cause painful burns, which will ruin your night and possibly the next few days of your trip. You may be oblivious to it if you’re too excited and absorbed with your explorations.
I have had many occasions when I’ve spent a day out only to find myself with a ruby red sun burned nose by dinner. Always keep a tube of sunscreen with you in your bag and remember to apply one layer before you head out. Hats are also a good supplement to further help keep you protected.
Wearing shades isn’t just about looking cool. Sun and wind at high elevations, where many famous monuments or ancient ruins may be situated, can irritate eyes not to mention contact lens wearers.
Windy terrains will also kick up sand or tiny debris that can harm you. I remember how strong the wind was during my visit to Sounion, the beautiful temple just outside of Athens on a cliff overlooking the water in tribute to the God Poseidon. My eyes tear very badly in the wind, and I was really glad I had my sunglasses with me. Never leave home without them.
Fully charged mobile phone
First, it is always good planning to have a mobile phone in case of an emergency. But, even if your phone plan does not include global calling, I see mobile phones (and its camera and video features) as a handy backup in case your expensive digital 18 megapixel breaks, drops, or runs out of battery power. How sad it would be to reach a historical spot only to find you can’t take any pictures.
Water and snacks
Sometimes trekking to a popular tourist attraction can take you longer than you expected, leaving you totally worn out. Always bring with you at least one bottle of water and a few snacks (fruit, nuts, or snack bar) in case you find yourself in need of a break and an energy boost with no street vendors in sight.
Speaking of those street vendors, you can almost guarantee that none of them accept credit cards. Trade in your larger notes for smaller bills at your hotel before leaving for the day. This way you can freely buy inexpensive souvenirs or snacks along the way, or be prepared in case access to public bathrooms requires small entry fees. Getting a mix of coins and bills is ideal.
As always, I wish you successful sightseeing and happy travels!
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