by Lauren Zelek, Pack Up + Go Contributor

Alright! You did it. You arrived somewhere new and are full of wonder, excitement and adventure. There are so many things to do, sights to see, and people to meet. It feels liberating to be solo and a master of your time and energy.

But then the hours (and even days) go by, and whoops, you wonder,  “Have I actually dug deep into this place and culture, and am I doing what I REALLY intended to do on this solo adventure?”

You’re not alone.

Last week a girlfriend and I were discussing just this — arriving in a new city either wandering around for hours or planning full days visiting museums, restaurants, shops, outdoor sights, etc. Talk about feeling scattered or overbooked. Can’t it be easier?


It’s all about setting a daily intention— an “anchor” as I like to call it. It’s like pursuing adventures in your top-tier bucket list. After all, an anchor keeps you steady, not letting you drift where you don’t want to go.

Say you just arrived in the beautiful city of San Francisco for 5 days. You’ve determined your accommodation and have a general understanding of the must-see and must-experience sights and activities like Golden Gate, Chinatown, Fisherman’s Warf, and Godiva factory. Cool, there are countless options to fill your day. Rather than bounce around the city or schedule your day back-to-back, you wonder, “How do I determine what to do, in order to fully maximize my day?“

Determine your anchor.

While it may seem hard, the key is to recognize what area of your life feels emptier than others. Do you feel lacking in your physical well-being? How about emotional, spiritual, or mental well-being?

When I was in Cartagena, Colombia last summer, my spiritual well-being didn’t feel 100% up to par. I desperately wanted to spend my whole day exploring the charming city in the three days that I had, but really what I truly needed was a spiritual boost. Unfortunately, heading to churches or gardens to meditate didn’t work. It was when I was heading to my hostel that I stumbled on a group of young girls dancing away to a street band’s champeta music. It was literally spiritually moving, and I wanted more.

I set my anchor and every morning set out to discover a new music scene, whether it was in the historic part of town or an edgier, rough-and-tumble neighborhood.

It was a good strategy. I’d find myself watching a band at the 16th-century-old wall overlooking the ocean. I’d be dancing to "morning salsa” and making new local relationships while enjoying fresh, hearty empanadas filled with love.

To read the rest of Lauren’s blog post, visit her website!