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Make the Best of Your Free Walking Tour With the Essentials

Make the Best of Your Free Walking Tour With the Essentials

When it comes to joining a free walking tour, local guides like myself want to make your life easier with a list of the essentials we recommend you take along. Guides often meet travellers who would have a more successful experience if they just packed lighter, or had a few extras to make their time a bit more comfortable. The advice is clear and simple: you don’t need your whole backpack, tent, sleeping bag and guidebook. You mainly need yourself, some cash for tips (optional!), and a handful other things that you’ll find listed here:

 

1. COMFORTABLE SHOES


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Pixabay


Free walking tours have always been walking tours. Up to three hours! So choose your most comfortable and sturdy shoes in order to fully enjoy the morning or afternoon without aching feet. We believe walking is the most successful for the geographical orientation of a new city. Not only that, it also shows you the sights up close rather than rushing past them as you can easily do on a bus or car. And if the city you visit is hilly, it’s quite likely you’ll climb a few sets of stairs or you'll come across hidden paths and cobblestones, especially in cities with medieval centres. It’s part of the charm, but can be nasty if you're not wearing proper footwear. So take my word!


2. CAMERA


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Pexels


You’ll see the best sights of the city and you simply don’t want to miss all the great photo opportunities. And don't forget the fact that right after- or during- the tour you might find yourself trying out some local dishes and delicacies or getting to know new friends. These moments definitely call for a photo! Just remember to keep the battery juiced up for the day and be attentive with your valuables during your fun night out at a pub crawl.

 

3. RAINGEAR


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Flickr


Free tours run in good and bad weather, rain or shine. As guides, we always have an umbrella or raincoat in our daypack if we're expecting some showers, especially during the Spring and Autumn seasons. Prepare for the worst by looking up the daily forecast and dressing for the weather and you’ll have a great time with us. But don't fret if it does rain! Sometimes tours can be even more memorable with a little help from a drizzle or two.

 

4. LAYERS


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Pixabay


A free walking tour in June does not necessarily mean sunny summer weather with 25-28 °C. On a general walking tour, you walk as much as you stand listening to the commentary while on a thematic walking tour you usually stand more, listening. Make sure to be well dressed for the occasion as well as comfortable. Depending on the time of the year, this means layering with a light sweater, windbreaker, and/or scarf, or easily portable items when you don't need them. And one of the great advantages of a free walking tour is that you’ll meet like-minded people who might want to continue hanging out into the evening when it could potentially get chilly. But that's okay because you'll be carrying your jean jacket on you anyway!

 

5. NOTEBOOK & PEN / OFFLINE MAPS


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Flickr


Want to save some time when all the other travellers approach the guide for recommendations at the end of the tour? Take along a notebook and pen and jot down our recommendations as we go. Too old-school to grab a pen and notebook? Use your phone and check things off on an offline maps application, many of which are available for free. And in most cases, your tour guide will be able to provide you with one of their company's brochures with a map and information for the city you're visiting.

 

6. NEW FRIENDS


 

Bring a new friend along for the tour. It's free, educational, and an experience that can change your mindset on a city in just a couple of hours. Seeing a church or a square, for example, doesn't mean you know the story behind it and what it means for the locals. Gain an authentic and enthusiastic insight of the city- prepare for some jokes!-  rather than a guidebook’s “informative” and likely boring script. When I first joined my free tour in the city I've lived in for 4 years, I learned a lot of new things! And now I have a lot of information to offer that you'll find interesting.

 

7. GREAT MOOD


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The free walking tour guides are doing their best to show the essence of the city they live in, their culture, best-hidden gems and places are only known to locals or themselves. With a smile, you’ll encourage them to do their best and create an unforgettable atmosphere for you and the group!

 

Final note


The best advice is just not to worry too much.

Though having a camera, proper clothing and the mentioned couple other things will make your life easier on these tours, what you really need for a free walking tour is just yourself.

What is the thing you wished you had brought along on a free walking tour? Let us know in a comment!

Daniel Draskoczy