There’s nothing better than travelling. You experience new places and cultures, try new foods and soak up a world away from your own. But between working full time and juggling finances, long trips often aren’t feasible. However, when you learn how to make the most of a short getaway you can dip your toe in the world of travel and still be home for work on Monday. The perfect compromise!
Accept that you can’t see everything
If you’re planning to be in a place for less than 48 hours its unrealistic to expect to see everything. Trying to do so just makes you tired and frustrated. At worst you may see everything you planned to see, but you won’t have time to take anything in. This has been the biggest thing I’ve learned about travelling and is definitely one of the best tips for how to make the most of short getaways.
Pick one *Big Thing* to do per day
Once you’ve decided not to try and see everything, my advice if you’re visiting a big city like Paris or London is to pick one *big* thing to do a day. Then, have a backup second option for if you find yourself with a little extra time. Obviously, if you’re visiting a smaller place you can usually see a lot more. But even so, on a recent trip to Dubrovnik there was still plenty of things I didn’t even attempt to see. Instead I focused on walking the walls of the old town and trying to soak up the general feeling of that beautiful city. I was happier because of it and felt like I’d seen everything that was important to me.
Most hotels and hostels will let you check in after 2pm and check out before 11am. This means that if you’re on a weekend getaway there’s a good chance that you will have to carry around your luggage with you. There’s nothing like navigating busy streets with a heavy bag to make you regret bringing three pairs of shoes and multiple outfit changes. So pack light and even consider using a backpack. Alternatively, check whether your accommodation has a left luggage policy, but remember to factor in picking your bags up into your plans.
Decide if you are a: Go with the flow traveller
I’ve found that travellers fall into two camps: the ones who go with the flow and the ones who have an itemised plan of action. You probably know without my telling you which side you fall under. But with that in mind, when you’re trying to make the most of a short getaway it’s important to know which camp you’re in.
If you’re a go with the flow kind of traveller acknowledging this can help. It can be really liberating to turn up in a new place with no fixed plans in place. It means you can make spur of the moment decisions based on what’s happening when you get there. Word to the wise though, if you are travelling with some itemised planners (see below), it might be a good idea to give them a heads up before you go!
Or: A ‘create a plan before you go’ traveller
For some, the idea of turning up in a new place without a plan is unthinkable. They like to research the best sights to see, or find out about the must eat food. They know times of flights, and have a screen shot of the hotel location from google maps. In short, they’re planners! It’s pretty easy to work out which side you’re on!
Creating a plan before you go can be an excellent way to make the most of a short getaway. You’ll know ahead of time what you’re going to see, and what you’re going to avoid and this can really maximise the amount of ground you can cover. It’s all about working out what type of getaway you’re looking for. If you’re enjoy planning, go for it! Likewise, if your goal is to relax in a new place, that works too!
Spend time living in the moment
Let’s be honest, we all want to get more out of travelling. But there’s a fine line between enjoying the moment and capturing the moment. When I travel I often have to battle a huge fear of missing out that can stop me enjoying the things I am seeing because I am worried about what I am not seeing. Part of the joy of travel is experiencing life in a different country. You simply can’t do that if you’re rushing from place to place the whole time.
I know that it seems counterproductive when you’re trying to make the most of a short getaway, but spend some time living in the moment. For me this usually looks like grabbing a cup of coffee and sitting down to watch the world go by. I love people watching and this is one of the best ways to do it (and the least suspicious!). Nothing makes me feel like I am experiencing the reality of living a foreign city more than taking time to slow down the pace and do what the locals are doing. This leads nicely into my final tip on how to make the most of a short getaway.
Consider going offline
I have definitely been guilty of looking for Instagram opportunities on a trip but there’s a difference between sharing what you’re experiencing and traipsing around a city looking for scenes that will get you likes. If you’re short on time, consider going offline and taking time away from social media. Seeing the sights without looking for perfect social media opportunities can really help you make the most of your time.