Trying to explore a country but don’t have a lot of time? Well I have some tips for you About 9 years ago I took the trip of a lifetime with my best friend. Two weeks exploring eight countries in Europe. As you can imagine 14 days and 8 countries didn’t leave us a lot of time to explore the beauties of each one but instead get little sample sizes.
Yet despite being in some of the most beautiful places in the world like Switzerland or Austria for approximately 24 hours, we truly made the most of each experience and had the opportunity to see some of the main attractions these countries had to offer. We also had a chance to experience local culture and lifestyle. Planning a short trip? Here are some of my tips on how to make the most of your time.
1) Have a game plan
When we were in Rome for less than 48 hours we wanted to see the Vatican, Roman Forum, and the Colosseum, seems like a lot right? Not if you plan ahead. We bought skip the line passes ahead of time. Despite going on a busy Saturday, we waited less than 20 minutes.
If you have some “must not miss” places on your list, plan ahead. See if you can skip the line, or if there are tours because they will always get priority access. Try and research to see if some attractions or places are less busy early in the morning or late afternoon. That will save you time which is precious when you are on a short trip.
2) Don’t be afraid to go with the flow
When we were in Paris for one night, I really wanted to see the Eifel Tower sparkle at night time, but my friend didn’t want to spend our whole 20 hours at the tower, so we compromised. We climbed the tower during the day and saw some stunning views of the city, and at night time we went to see a show at the Moulin Rouge. The show was incredible and I really got to experience even more of the Parisian culture in a short time.
Things are always going to come up, whether it’s a group disagreement, closures, or bad weather. Be ready to not get your way especially if you are only there for a few days. Instead make the most of what you do get to experience. Hey, if you didn’t get to see the Eifel Tower sparkle, just means you will have to take another trip to Paris someday. At least that is what I tell my boyfriend.
3) Don’t Rush
You aren’t going to see everything, unless you have found a way to clone yourself (If so, show me your ways). For example, when I was in Amsterdam I really wanted to see both the Anne Frank House or the Van Gogh Museum. Instead of rushing through the museums in hopes of seeing both, we decided that Anne Frank was more up our alley. We were really able to explore the entire museum, listen to our guide, and appreciate the history. I was so glad we had a chance to explore one museum to the fullest.
When you have a limited time, you may feel the need to rush around town in hopes of seeing everything, but if you do that, you won’t really het to see anything. By making compromises you will really get to enjoy what you do see. You will get to truly explore and learn about the areas that you do make time for.
4) Logistics, logistics, logistics
On our trip, my friend and I made sure we took the first train or bus out every morning. This ensured we would have a full day and night exploring cities. We purchased our tickets ahead of time, and would check to make sure everything was on time. When you have a short amount of time every minute is precious, and you don’t want delayed transportation to affect your trip.
Make sure to do your homework ahead of time. Make sure everything is running on schedule and what will be the quickest way to get to your next destination or attraction you are visiting. The more you know before you go, the less time will be wasted on figuring things out.
5) City tours are your friend
When we were in London for just two days we decided to plan a trip on a hop on hop off bus. We had a chance to see all the major attractions like Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, etc. in only a few hours. Plus we had a knowledgeable tour guide giving us information.
With so much to see and do in such a short time period, it’s nice to have someone else do the work. They know the best routes and the history. You get to sit back, relax, and take all the pictures your finger can handle.
6) Plan to return
There is an old myth that if you throw a coin into the Trevi Fountain in Rome you will return there one day. I made sure to do that because a day and a half in Rome was just not enough, and guess what, I will be going back there this summer and I cannot wait.
The best part of a short trip is you get a little taste of what the incredible city has to offer, and it just makes you want to come back for the whole meal. You get to see which parts you really loved, and find out more about cities that you would love to go back and visit for a longer time. Let’s just say it is an appetizer ahead of a main course.
I hope these tips help you plan a short trip of your own. No matter how much time you have, you can make the most of any vacation and get a glimpse of the beauty this world has to offer. So get out and explore. Bonne Voyage!