While living in Europe for the last two years, I’ve become somewhat of an expert of making the most of quick trips. My shortest trip was 6 hours in Riga, and I’ve done everything in between with weekends in Berlin and Paris to several weeks in Thailand. I have learned that there are different constraints that put a damper on traveling: time and money. I’ve previously talked on my blog about how to save money while traveling, which can help address the money constraint. Today, I’m going to share with you my best tips on how to travel when you have a limited amount of time. Perhaps you want to maximize a long layover, or you just want to see the highlights of a city. If you only have a short amount of time in a new destination, there are certainly tips you can follow to help save you time and maximize your time while traveling!
For this post, I’m going to use lots of examples from my time in Riga. Due to time constraints, I was only able to spend a short six hours in Riga- and I truly feel as though I was able to explore the city in depth, and experience many of the best sights and things to do in Riga.
1. Hit the ground running. If you only have a short amount of time, you will definitely want to be able to utilize every moment you are given. Two simple things you can do to save time once you reach your destination is to have both the correct currency in cash on hand, and have a map ready to go. If you can prevent yourself from having to stop at both an ATM and a tourist shop to grab a map, you have easily saved yourself a bit of time.
2. Plan. If you know you only have a short amount of time, why wouldn’t you plan ahead? Perform research, and discover every possible thing you may (and those you may not!) want to see. Put each and every thing on a map, and you will likely see a trend. For example, when I was in Riga, I knew that a great majority of the attractions were quite close to each other. Because there were just a few that were not located near these, I knew it was possible I would not get to see everything.
3. Prioritize what you want to see. Part of planning is prioritizing what you would like to see. Select the most important things, and assign an amount of time to each of those attractions. Once you have done this, you will be able to fill in the blanks with other sights and stops. When I most recently visited the Dominican Republic, I had a huge list of things I wanted to do and see (and requests from my husband as well!) One of our priorities for the trip was seeing one of his old friends and the countryside on the way to Santo Domingo. A great way to do this was with a plane ride (albeit private!) on the way!
4. Select attractions near each other. If you are short on time while on vacation, you definitely don’t want to spend your time sitting on a bus/train/taxi. Selecting attractions that are close in proximity to each other will allow you to see the most of a city.
5. Relax. Relax! You are on vacation. Even if you can’t see and do everything, it is still a vacation and meant to be relaxing. Take the time to sit down, have a coffee, and breathe every once in awhile. If you are simply rushing around from place to place, you definitely won’t leave feeling refreshed and like you got a good taste of the city you have just visited. Stop and smell the roses once in awhile!
|walking between attractions in Riga, spotted the Riga Cat!|
6. Walk between attractions. Since you have already selected attractions that are close by each other, walk between them. Doing this will really give you a feel for the city, and you will experience things you will not have seen otherwise. While I was in Riga, by walking between our destinations we saw several sights we likely would not have stopped at otherwise. One of my personal favorites was a visit with the Riga Cat- and I know I would have missed out if I had not been walking the city!
7. Travel light. This is especially important when maximizing a short amount of time in a destination, because nobody wants to worry about hauling around luggage. If you have a layover, do some research beforehand and see if there are luggage lockers at the airport where you can leave your luggage. For other trips, travel as lightly as possible- think, at most, a backpack or a purse. Traveling lightly will help you keep going, and give you the most amount of time to explore!
What is the shortest amount of time you have ever had to explore a new city? What are the best tips you can give travelers to make the most of their time?