Finally I can announce that next week I’ll be going to London for a short trip with 2 of my best friends I met in Dublin (read about my misadventure in Dublin here). And I thought that this would be the perfect time for me to give you some advice on what to do before you go on a city trip.
I’m a planner. I plan everything in advance and if someone doesn’t stop me, I end up planning the whole vacation hour by hour. This is due both to my anxiety and to my obsession of wanting to see everything I can during the time I’m given.
I’m not going to say that you should book your flight in advance. That’s pretty obvious, isn’t it? I’ll be listing here 10 things you can do to save money, time and stress during your holiday.
- Book transfers from/to the airtport in advance. Or at least look for the different means of transportation you can use and their price. Sometimes you can save a lot of money by booking a bus transfer from websites such as Terravision or Easybus. Maybe you’ll find out that you can use the city public transport with the same ticket you’ll use during your stay. Usually you can find a lot of information on the airport’s website. Never forget to check that out!
- Make a list of what you want to see. This will allow you to have an exact idea of how many things and places you really want to see in the amount of time you’ll be away. This will also save you time on your holiday, because you’ll never waste time again thinking and looking for new inputs. Look online or on Instagram for inspiration and don’t be afraid to go off the beaten path.
- Check the opening times and special offers of museums and other places you want to visit. You’ll never waste your time in front of a closed museum ever again. Moreover, some museums offer longer opening hours or even a free admittance once a week. You can spend your sunny day at the beach and visit the museum after dinner. You can also see the same things you’d see if you’d pay full price admittance, but for free if you happen to be around at the right day!
- Check if you have to book your visit in advance. Even if admittance is free, some places require you to book your visit in advance anyways, due to restrictions on the number of visitors.
- Book museums in advance. Especially for the really crowded museums, where you’ll probably end up queueing for hours if you don’t already have a ticket. When could it happen to you? Well, try to visit the Vatican Museums in the Vatican City State, the Galleria dell’Accademia in Florence, Anne Frank’s house or the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam on crowded days without a pre-booked ticket. Then come back and tell me about it… You’ve been warned!
- Mark on a map the places you want to see. It will be helpful to already have a general idea about how the city you’re visiting is built. I’d also suggest you to divide your trip into different neighborhoods and visit one per day, instead of hopping from one end of the city to the other. You can walk around the chosen neighborhood, saving time and money you’d otherwise spend on buses or trains.
- Download and use the app “maps.me” (download link for iOS and Android). This is my favourite app for traveling. It allows you to download the map you need to use offline (great if you’re traveling abroad and with no mobile internet) and mark all the things you’re interested in. It offers: free maps and navigation offline, exploring points of interest (with information on their location, website, telephone number, etc.), adding new places to the map and creating your own folders for your saved points of interest.
- Write a list of what you’ll need to pack. Do this at least one week before you go away. During this week you’ll discover you forgot something and that something you wanted to pack is, in fact, useless and takes a lot of space in your suitcase. I like to pack my suitcase some days in advance, to see how I can manage the space better, but I know this is borderline insane.
- Always double-check your tickets, your needed apps and your documents. If you don’t have physical plane/museum tickets, check that you have everything on your phone easily accessible, even offline. And don’t forget your passport!
- Ask for advice. Look for online reviews and ask people you know for advice on what to see, what to do, where to sleep, what to eat and so on. It will help you make your final choices on how to organize your holiday. In this way you will know in advance where you can take the best pictures of the sunset in Marrakech, where you can find the cheapest, biggest and yummiest ice cream right outside the Vatican City State’s walls and which places are not worth your time.
What do you usually do before going on a city trip? Let me know in the comments!