Sometimes it can be difficult and overwhelming trying to cram everything in on one trip. Suppose this is the only trip you can take for awhile – you want to see and do everything! In my experience, I have picked up a few tricks here and there to really optimize the amount of time I can put towards enjoying my time sightseeing.
1. Overnight trains. These are especially grand ideas if you are traversing across Europe on a backpacking adventure. It gets you to your next destination and also saves you the cost of a hotel. You were going to have to take the train anyway so why not sleep on it and save yourself the extra money for more activities and local cuisine?
2. When you are staying at a hotel or hostel, try to find one as conveniently located to a subway/train station/taxi stand as possible. This really helped me in London. I stayed in three different areas that were walking distance from several huge sites that I had mapped out as wanting to see. Ending in Paddington, I happened to be right next to Paddington Station which serves as a major hub for both the underground as well as transport to other cities of England and Heathrow Airport Express. There was also a charming little Greek restaurant footsteps away that I spent many a night at. The other hotel was my favorite, the Grosvenor. Victoria train station is located literally at your backdoor. You just walk out the backdoor of the lobby and you are welcomed with the sights and sounds of people bustling about.
3. When picking what you want to see and do, make sure you plan activities that are near to each other for each day. Make yourself aware of where exactly all the things you want to see actually are before you get to your destination. Color code a map for each day of your trip or simply make a list by day of your itinerary. I always make an itinerary for myself, simply because I love lists and staying organized. I list everything in the order I want to see it, the addresses and how I can get to one from the other by way of the underground or walking. This is specifically for a trip longer than a few days. If you are only in a city for a day or two, your strategy should be a little different.
4. If you are a student, bring your ID! Many places offer student discounts. The one country that never accepted American cards specifically though was Italy.
5. If you are really pinching pennies, many museums, especially in England, are free!
6. Do your research. The world has a lot to offer in terms of sightseeing and entertainment and cuisine. Sometimes you just can’t plan for everything because occasionally a spur of the moment alteration in your itinerary can make for the most exciting moment of your trip. However, I do like to know what I am getting myself into so I don’t miss opportunities simply because I didn’t research what was around. I am currently looking at different castles in Ireland, Scotland, and England for my trip in September because that’s primarily what I want to see. I’m mapping out a day-to-day itinerary and marking which days I will travel and to where and at what time. It also gives me an idea of how much I will be spending. I want to be prepared!
These tips don’t work for everybody, but they do allow me personally to develop a great plan for travel. Do I ever alter my itinerary once I arrive at my destination? Of course, but I love coming in with an idea of how I want to spend my time and being prepared is never a bad thing.