If you are planning to travel on a time budget, there are a few things you might want to do to help you make the most of your time:
– Be selective: Think about the places you can easily visit and the best times of year for this. Look into which airlines fly from your nearest airport(s), the destinations they fly to and the flight times they offer – routes with few flight options or those that stretch into the middle of the day are not really convenient for a short break. You may have a particular place on your bucket list, but if it takes the majority of your day to get there because of inconvenient flight times, then it might be wise to leave that to another time.
Likewise, if you’re able to catch an early flight out and a late flight back, you’ll maximise the time you have, and short breaks in summer, where it stays light until late, means more time for sightseeing when you arrive. Travelling on a time budget is also much easier if you can reduce the amount of time needed to travel to your final destination at the other end.
– Do your research: How far is the airport at your destination from the city centre and what’s the best way to travel there? What are the top sights you want to visit or focus on during your short break? Where’s the best place to stay in relation to the things that you want to do? This may be a central location or it may be somewhere on the outskirts if there is something in particular you want to visit in that area. If you choose the latter, check that you can get back at night without incurring expensive taxi costs. Giving some thought in advance will help you make the most of your time and keep costs down.
– Book in advance: If there are specific things you want to do – e.g. a guided tour around a museum or trip out into the countryside – it might be wise to book them in advance. Not only will this mean you can plan other activities around this time, but it also means you won’t miss out – the last thing you want to do is arrive somewhere to discover that there are no tickets available for the cycling tour or chocolate making experience that you’d set your heart on.
– Travel light: Cabin baggage is common these days, but cases can still be large. Taking your luggage in the cabin does save time by avoiding the need to wait for baggage in the hold to arrive, but taking a small rucksack for a short visit also means that you don’t necessarily need to go straight to your hotel to check in; if you want to stop off and see something en route, this is more practical.
– Look out for deals: Although your priority may be to travel, I doubt you will want to spend a fortune on it. Short breaks can be relatively expensive so look out for deals and cut costs where you can – this might include flying with a budget airline, going out of season when travel and hotels are cheaper, or only going for one night rather than two (this really is feasible if you choose your destination wisely and get early flights out and late flights back). Also look into whether you can join loyalty clubs that offer various perks (e.g. free nights in hotels, reduced cost flights), use voucher codes or book hotels with breakfast as part of the price (this not only saves money, but the time involved in looking for a breakfast venue). Other deals might also be available for tourists – for example, Swiss hotels offer free public transport passes for the duration of your stay and some hotels offer free airport pickups.
– Manage your own expectations: My own experience of travelling to places for short periods of time is that you have to be honest with yourself: it is not necessarily going to be a leisurely, lazy holiday. Whilst these breaks are relaxing and invigorating in themselves, you are unlikely to have the time for a few hours reading by the pool or having treatments in the spa (unless of course, your actual aim is to visit the spas in Budapest or Baden-Baden or swim in the Blue Lagoon in Iceland), or to pop back to your hotel to freshen up for a night out. Save these things for longer holidays and make the most of the short time you have – instead of eating into your time by going back to your hotel and changing for dinner, stay out and watch the locals leaving work or kicking off their own nights out; soak up the early evening atmosphere.
– Plan your time before your trip: However great they are, short breaks can be tiring and if you don’t get back until, say, 11pm on a Sunday, you may be straight back to work the next day. As boring as it may sound, these trips become much more feasible if you’ve prepared for them – so do your chores during the week, do the following week’s washing and catch up on your sleep. Then, when you get back everything’s been done and you can go back to work only needing to think about the fantastic time you’ve had away!