London, United Kingdom
Things to do in London: Skip the standard tours, grab a city guide, and all day bus pass and jump on one of the double decker buses. You can hop on and off as you please and explore all of London’s treasures, including Buckingham Palace, London Eye, Trafalgar Square, London Bridge, Westminster Abbey, and many more!
Getting around the city: Seamless travel! It’s easy to get around via public transport or taxis. Use Hop On Hop Off bus to reach popular attractions, purchase a London Pass with travel, or purchase an Oyster card.
Recommended areas to stay: I like Oxford, Chelsea and Brixton. My favorite area is Paddington because it’s convenient and won’t break the bank.
Potential Safety Concerns: I wasn’t concerned with safety but as with anywhere be vigilant and aware of your surroundings.
Things to do in Tokyo: Eat, Eat, Eat! Japanese are serious with their food. Tokyo is the city with the most Michelin starred restaurants in the world! But no worries there are a lot of food options for all budgets, just enter in a typical izakaya (Japanese restaurant) and salivate over the hundred dishes the menu has to offer. My favorite is Jomon in Roppongi or Gompachi (several in the city). Also it is the perfect place to be spiritual with all the shrines spread in the city. The biggest and most impressive ones are in Asakusa and Meiji Jingumae. It is great when you wander around in the city and you find a shrine by chance.
Getting around the city: Train and subway are the best ways to get around the city! They are not always easy, but google map or the app Japan Travel Navitime are your best friends especially for the train! Use taxi as a last resort as it is quite expensive.
Recommended areas to stay: I like Daikanyama and Naka meguro for the cool and casual vibes. For something more convenient the neighborhoods of Shibuya or Shinjuku are very central.
Potential Safety Concerns: Having lived in Tokyo for 3 years, I have had no safety issues! Speaking from my personal experiences, it has been for me the safest place I have ever experienced!
Things to do in Paris: Purchase a Paris pass. The pass comes with a ticket to use the Hop On Hop Off bus along with provide you with access to major attractions like the Louvre Museum, Seine River, Notre Dame Cathedral, Arc de Triomphe, and so much more! You can spend a day at the Louvre museum, be sure to see famous pieces like the Mona Lisa and Venus De Milo. Head over to the Eiffel tower, and make your way to the top; you can walk the 669 steps up (bring flats or tennis shoes) or take the escalator. At night the Eiffel lights up, and it is such a beautiful sight. If you have time be sure to do a wine tasting.
Getting around the city: Take the train or Hop On Hop Off bus to get around to the major attractions. Taxis are also an option for getting around the city.
Recommended areas to stay: Staying in the 1st or 4th arrondissements on the right bank allows you to be able to walk to most places and take a quick trip on the metro to others. At night you will have so many restaurant choices within walking distance. If you are looking for more ambience, you may enjoy 5th or 6th arrondissements, which are touristy but lively.
Potential Safety Concerns: I had no safety concerns while traveling in Paris. Like any other city I made sure to follow my instincts, and was always aware of my surroundings.
San Francisco, California
Things to do in San Francisco: There is so much to see in San Francisco! Take the Hop On Hop Off bus to see the highlights of the city! Visit Alcatraz, do a Segway tour, go to Fisherman’s Wharf, ride the cable car from Fisherman’s Wharf to Union Square to do some shopping at Mecca, try a walking food tour, ride a car through Lombard Street, and don’t forget to see the Golden Gate Bridge!
Getting around the city: Use Uber or Lyft to get around the city. For a cheaper option the buses are very easy to catch. A taxi will be the most expensive option.
Recommended areas to stay: If this is your first visit to San Francisco, the touristy area near Fisherman’s Wharf is a great option. Pacific Heights, and Union Square are also nice options. My personal favorite neighborhood is the Mission. I love the Mission District because Dolores Park and Valencia Street has some cute little shops.
Potential Safety Concerns: I travel yearly to San Francisco and have yet to have any safety concerns. I have walked the streets day and night with no problems, but you should be aware of your surroundings at all times.
Things to do in Chicago: Chicago has many public parks, and museums (The Art Institute of Chicago, The Field Museum, etc.) which are great to take a day and visit. During the summer months there are also various street festivals happening most weekends around the city. Chicago has some great tours; Hop on Hop Off bus, walking tours, bike tours, and architecture tours on the Chicago River. There’s also the John Hancock, Buckingham Fountain, Willis Tower, and the Navy Pier, which has free fireworks Wednesday and Saturday nights in the summer.
Getting around the city: Public transportation is phenomenal! There are elevated trains, buses, and the Metra is available when coming into the city from the suburbs. You are able to use taxis, Uber, and Lyft as well. Chicago is a great walking city and I highly advise taking advantage of that.
Recommended areas to stay: Depending on what you’re looking for, there are popular areas like Downtown, Wicker Park, Lincoln Park, Hyde Park, and Wrigleyville to name a few. Each neighborhood has something unique to offer tourists and visitors.
Potential Safety Concerns: Like any city, Chicago has its safer parts and not so safe parts. As with any travel, one should always be mindful of their surroundings. I’d recommend visiting the CPD website to look at any crime statistics and maps of a particular neighborhood.
Things to do in Amsterdam: There is something for everyone in Amsterdam! I highly suggest visiting Kuekenhof Gardens, it’s full of beautiful tulips and windmills. It’s so beautiful that it looks fake. Also check out popular sights like the Anne Frank House, Van Gogh Museum, and Red Light District. Take a Heineken Factory tour, rent a bike, and take a photo in front of the famous IAmsterdam sign.
Getting around the city: Public transportation is fairly easy once you get used to it. You can purchase an IAmsterdam City card that gives you unlimited use of GVB public transport system for 24, 48, or 72 hours; for the metro, buses, trams, ferries, and trains. However, Amsterdam is a city of bike riders so rent a bike and jump right in. There are also canal and Hop On Hop Off tours if you want something a little more structured.
Recommended areas to stay: Museumplein, and Singel Canal are great areas. Staying in Museumplein is very convenient if you want to visit the museums, and the hotels are a bit cheaper. Singel Canal is great for strolling and seeing picturesque sights.
Potential Safety Concerns: I felt really safe the entire time. I was alone for a full day before I joined friends and had zero issues. Just do the same things as you would back home. Be aware of your surroundings, watch your belongings and listen to your gut.
New York City, New York
Things to do in New York: A great and inexpensive way to see the city is definitely the Hop On Hop Off tour bus. You can purchase a ticket that is valid for 24 or 48hrs. It will take you to famous landmarks like the Empire State Building, 911 Memorial and Museum, Madame Tussauds, Statue of Liberty and Times Square. You can get on and off as many times as you would like to explore the city!
Getting around the city: Very easy to get around! You could use Uber, Lyft, or catch a taxi. There are also public transportation options like the subway, just be mindful when taking the train. I would recommend walking around Times Square because there is so much energy to experience.
Recommended areas to stay: I recommend staying in a central location like Times Square! It puts you in the heart of the city, and it is a great central location that is within walking distance of great restaurants.
Potential Safety Concerns: As with any place you go solo, just be aware of your surroundings, especially if you use public transportation like the subway.
Ocho Rios, Jamaica
Things to do in Ocho Rio: There are so many great sights in Ocho Rio. A few of my favorites are Blue Hole, Wata Land amusement park, Dunn’s River Fall, Dolphin Cove, Mystic Mountains Amusement Park, and Chukka Cove.
Getting around the city: Ocho Rios (aka Ochi) is centrally located so all or most tourist attractions and beaches are within walking distance or a short taxi ride especially if you stay in the heart of the city! Some hotels and hostels also do bicycle rentals.
Recommended areas to stay: It depends on your budget, and the type of person you are. But staying in the city center puts you within walking distance or a short taxi ride to many of the attractions.
Potential Safety Concerns: At no point during my trip did I feel unsafe, people were very friendly and helpful. It’s pretty safe to walk around alone, just don’t walk alone in very secluded areas. Don’t be afraid to ask for directions. There may be locals trying to sell things, some may see this as harassment but it’s just people trying to make a living.