1. Preplan with city guides.When sightseeing on a business trip, time is very limited. You might have only an afternoon or a day to see the main sights, so having is plan is crucial. I like the Top 10 from DK Eyewitness Travel series. Their walking tours, mass transit maps and top ten attractions aid tremendously in planning. I usually read the guide on the plane ride, and highlight the places of interest to me so I’m ready to hit the ground walking. Here’s a link to their website. http://us.dk.com/static/cs/us/11/travel/intro.html
  2. Beware of tourist maps.Whether I’m walking or traveling on public transit, I love to map out my itinerary. And that was always okay until I was touring Tokyo. The tourist map was beautiful – the streets were clearly named, the train lines were colorfully marked, and the sights were plainly featured. So map in hand, I went to shop the Ginza.  I recognized the right train station, but when I walked to street level, I was hopelessly lost. My map had the street names written in English, but the actual street signs were in, you guessed it – Japanese!
  3. Take public transportation. I love mass transit for lots of reasons – I’m a former NYC girl, so I grew up on trains and buses. You don’t have to talk to many people; it’s cheap and fast in crowded cities; it takes you off the beaten path, and the maps are usually simple to understand. When I had a spare afternoon in Ireland, I took a train to the town where my grandfather was raised. When I asked my mother why she didn’t visit his birthplace, she said the tour bus didn’t stop there. For about $2, I saw something meaningful to me that a $1,000 tour couldn’t provide. Some of my You Touched My Heart Stories take place on trains. And don't forget about ferries and boats, too.
  4. Ask the hotel clerk for a business card and address in the local language. When you need to take a taxi back to your hotel, you don’t have to worry about any miscommunication when street names or numbers sound alike.