Monday, March 17, 2014

Maximising Your City Vacation Time

Unless I have stepped on foreign soil it doesn’t feel like it’s a proper vacation. I enjoy the buzz of being a tourist, feeling like a local even for a short period. When I am on holiday I know that all good things come to an end quickly, so I make sure I get the most out of it, and that begins from before I have departed.

Over the years I have found out that by waiting until you get to a certain destination to decide on what you will be seeing or doing, you end up losing hours and possibly having an unproductive first day. Usually my holidays are between 5 to 7 days. I always try to fit in all the important tourist attractions in the first few days, and then leaving the last two or three days free for shopping, walking around and doing other interesting activities, or as they say “off the beaten track”. 

Before going on holiday I make a plan for each day. I make a list of the sites I would like to see and believe are important. I am quite realistic and not so ambitious in trying to fit everything in, remember you are on holiday, you don’t want to exhaust yourself and end up needing another holiday when you return home. To help in deciding the activities for each day I use extensively Trip Advisor, in case you don’t know, this is free. Through Trip advisor we read peoples feedback on: attractions to see, hotels to stay at, restaurants to eat, bars to drink and any other alternative activity. Most of the time this is reliable.

Apart from relying on internet sites, I also use travel guides. Over the years I have relied upon Gallimard and Lonely Planet. Although both have lots of information, we usually choose either one depending on the destination.

The Gallimard travel guides have very good detailed maps for each area so it really helps you to get around indicating specifically the important sites to see in that area. We find them very concise and with little literature. The only problem with Gallimard is that we can never find an English version. We usually buy it in Greek or French because I speak both languages, to be honest though we do prefer English versions. We usually but this from local book shop. Gallimard is ideal for those who do not want everything in a plate.  
Lonely Planet
Lonely Planet travel guides are issued in different languages. The Lonely Planet travel guide book has different sections for each area of the city or country with a simple map. Usually their travel guides are divided into the sections: See (which is the sites), Shop, Eat, Drink and Play. Of course there are some other small sections highlighting certain events in the year, a directory and background information on the city or country. Overall Lonely Planet provides you with a good detailed guide about nearly everything. Not relying totally on Lonely Planet and just getting lost can be quite adventurous, or even going to places which Lonely Planet doesn’t mention can turn out to be quite interesting.   

There are other travel guide books which are equally as good such as Eyewitness Travel and Moon Travel Guide. 

Recommended tips for when you go on vacation:

1. Buy your travel guide book in advance. It best to buy it a week before. Study it, become familiar with it.

2. Some of you have busy lifestyles so you really do not have much planning time before travelling. Do not worry, use flight time effectively to make note of certain activities and planning.

3. Make a list of attraction sites or activities you would like to see and do and allocate them to
specific days. 

4. Decide on the restaurants you will eat for lunch and dinner. Trying to decide on the day can be a nightmare, especially when you are spoilt for choices. Some places even need reservations in advance. 

5. Deciding where to stay can make all the difference when you are on holiday. Choose hotels that are near an underground station. This saves on time, money and makes life so much easier when getting around. Check on hotel websites about hotel location.

6. I also recommend Bed & Breakfast stay at your hotel. The last thing you want to do is be eating hotel food for lunch, and when you are out in the day it is not convenient to travel to and from hotel just to eat. Be adventurous try local cuisines or even gourmet food markets.

7. I find that very late nights and drinking heavily ruin the next day. Firstly because you miss free breakfast, secondly you tend to wake up late and last but not least you don’t have the liveliness or energy to enjoy the day. Save the drinking and late nights when you are back home. Unless your holiday is all about drinking and late night adventures.

8. When returning home, it is ideal to take the next day off if it’s a working day. I find it helps a lot to recover and come to terms with reality. Although reality is where we choose to be.

The last thing you don’t want to end up saying to yourself when your holiday is over “we should have gone there or seen that” or “if only we had more time”. So you see how important it is to plan your itinerary before you leave. 

The more time you have the more memories you can create. So planning is key.


  1. Couldn't agree more, saw this post on LinkedIn. Our trip planning site offers a great way to plan your activities and tours and even popular restaurants ahead of time. We highlight the top activities, not all activities and the planner is free!

    1. Hi there. Perhaps we could combine our efforts on this matter. If you would like i can write a post on your site to let it become a little more known. I think it would be very relevant to my focus area of my site. What do you think?
      Thanks for your comment :)



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