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Study local maps, get familiar with the main roads and how they intersect, and learn where your areas of interest can be found. Moreover, find out what public transportation is available and, if possible, download their routes and schedules. It's also helpful to know something about food and shopping options for the areas in which you plan to spend time, especially if you have dietary or other concerns.
Bottom line: knowing your way around helps decreases travel stress and increase the chance for spontaneity!