Guest Post: Lindsay Denton
We've all witnessed (at least once) that "umbrella" tour guide saying, "Follow me, on your right..." and it's true, as an innocent bystander, you're probably bound to feel a bit giggly or unamused. It can look a bit dull, too premeditated, a pastime reserved for "older folks." And it's solid speculation. It's very 20th century; it's got that "analog era" feel woven right through it.
If you have never participated in such an activity, there's reasonable room for benevolent prejudice. But what if we're wrong? Living in a fast-paced world, younger generations (millennials and onward) fear ADHD setting in, lengthy monologues, and feeling overwhelmed with too much information.
Well, let's prove them wrong. Love for knowledge and history knows no age. We've prepared eight astonishing benefits of going on a walking tour. Please put on your comfortable shoes and follow my umbrella, everyone. Or we can do it via Zoom; you choose.
Say you're visiting NYC, and you only have a couple of days. Manhattan alone is 2.3 miles wide and 13.4 miles long. Where do you start? What is worth visiting? How do you compress its rich history in such a short time and actually make it stick? Exactly.
You're there to maximize your experience, not tiptoe through one of the most important landmarks in the U.S. Exploring Soho, Little Italy, and Chinatown alone would take a couple of weeks of your time if you're to wander around without a helpful guiding hand. Famous mafia locations first-hand? Yes, please.
Your Boots Were Made for Walkin'
From car rentals and electric scooters to bicycles and metro cards, a transportation buffet is available to all tourists 24/7. But, how convenient is it, really? Traffic jams, parking, bike locks, and crowded subways. Sounds appealing?
Walking tours will get you literally anywhere without parkouring your way around the city. With your feet actually touching the ground, you're experiencing the sight in a moment; you're present, and your senses are wide awake. Most importantly - you become an integral part of the city. Beat that, wheels.
Every traveling soul needs a local guide. Find one, or embrace the unexpected; that's the storyline. Your walking tour guide will hand-pick solely high-quality sights, and they will work hard to impress you.
Your guide will unravel the city's mysteries and rarely known facts from must-sees to some of the most peculiar museums and art exhibitions (the anti-tourist brochure kind). And it doesn't stop there. While you're enjoying the goosebumps hour during the Philadelphia ghost tour, you can ask for some under-the-table info about the best low key restaurants and shops - and who would know better than your trusted local?
Sounds good, right? You're on vacation; working meticulously on your itinerary is draining and time-consuming. You're there to relax, enjoy and learn something new (and fun). The only thing you need to worry about is charging your phone that morning and having a pair of well-rested legs at your disposal.
Your walking tour guide is there to take care of everything else. And we mean everything. If you've always wanted to see the Times Square and Broadway Theater, but you're not that keen on walking, Midtown virtual tours are always available.
A walking tour with your feet up? Yes. Sign me up.
Walking Tours Are Very Green
What are the benefits of going on a walking tour? It's 100 percent green. Crystal green. Emerald green. You name the shade.
We've all become exceptionally conscious regarding our environment and the planet's breakneck warming alarm. Unlike other forms of transportation, our bodies are as eco-friendly as it gets - and that's precisely why walking tours are experiencing a big comeback.
Walking is pollutant- and emission-free; there isn't a better way to express your activist alter-ego while visiting a foreign country or state. By walking, you're showing tremendous respect for the ground you tread on. And, just how amazing is that?
You're right; we're living in a digital era. Mingling sounds very analog. One more reason to try it. It's an incredibly bonding experience, especially for those traveling solo. Meeting people with wildly different backgrounds and experiencing a sense of belonging sparks new friendships (and love at first sight).
And who knows, halfway through your Manhattan hidden gems tour, you might realize - this is the place for me. And trust us, your gut instinct isn't wrong - once you settle down after moving into your new home, there are many places to check out. And we mean - numberless.
It keeps you fit
It's hard to resist local delicacies when you're on vacation - exotic drinks, new snacks, pastry wonders, a bit of this, a bit of that - and we end up going a size up by day 7. Not with walking tours, friends.
Walking burns calories (one-hour walk burns up to 360 calories). By the time you finish your Lower East Side tour with your guide, there will be plenty of room for Katz's goodies; take our word for it. Not only are you being kind to the city's environment, but to your body's health, as well. Walking releases endorphins and waves a bad mood bon voyage.
Safe - Everything
As much as we dislike the phrase "social distancing," it's become an integral part of our everyday functioning. Our bags have waited long enough for the post-COVID era to come and take us places.
Still, precaution. An outdoor walking tour (in small groups) is your perfect post-COVID travel agenda. Personal safety is also essential. You will feel safe within a group when sightseeing. Plus, your local guide will provide you with helpful advice on safe neighborhoods and how to avoid/deal with potentially dangerous situations.
You'll Never Know...
...Until you try. The benefits of going on a walking tour are genuinely infinite. You won't find a more fulfilling way of exploring a new city, hat down. Walking the neighborhood and learning its history is the closest we get to seeing it through a local's lens.
And that's precisely why we're there, no? - "Alright, on your left... Follow me."