Get to know the Destination Before You Go
In order to get the most out of your time you can get to know your destination before you land there. Look through maps, and read up a little on the history. This will give you a good overview of your destination and ensure you are prepared. You want to get yourself acquainted with the layout and feel of the location so you can hit the ground running when you arrive.
Accept that you Cannot Do it All
A time crunch means you won’t be able to see/do everything. Make a loose plan of the highlights you don’t want to miss. Do what YOU want to do. Just because the guide books list the most popular activities or sights doesn’t mean that’s what YOU must do. Remember that this is your adventure and you are creating your own memories. I often map out which highlights are close to one another so we maximize the time between highlights. If your time is limited to just one day it’s best to choose 3 “must do’s” and 2 “if possible’s”. Depending on your destination, you may need to pre-purchase timed entry into museums or shows, etc. This can help you structure your day accordingly.
Make sure to plan ahead where you will eat so you don’t waste time wandering around looking for what fits your budget and tastes. Again, preparing ahead of time by checking Yelp or another app for the best eats will save you a lot of time and possibly some money.
Whether you are on a road trip or a trip where you are relying on public transport, we think it’s best to do your travel between locations before a late dinner or after an early supper. We have found that those evening hours can often be dead hours so we fill them with travel. Especially for families who may have tired little ones or irritable teens, it’s a good idea to build in some down time. If you are early risers, it may be best to get that travel time in after a good night’s sleep and before beginning your day. Make this work for you and maximize your time well. We love the high speed trains in Europe and their reduced rates after typical commute times!
Know Your Why
Years ago John really wanted to go to a specific region of southern France to visit the wineries there and eat the food. Everything else we did was icing on the cake. We took a whirlwind 8 day trip through Paris, Lyon, Avignon, and Nice. We stayed focused on Lyon for gastronomy and the Cote du Rhone region for wines. We added on Nice for one night-it was crazy, but such a fun experience. We did a walking tour in Nice, ate mussels in the old town courtyards, wandered through the markets and soaked in the sun on the promenade and that was enough. We spent almost no time in Paris because it was not the focus of the trip and we knew we would go back in the future.
Don’t Underestimate the Impact of a Whirlwind Adventure
It is easy to dismiss the idea of ONLY spending a short time in a destination that warrants a slow pace, but the reality is that most of us often have limited time. Go. Soak up what you can and enjoy what makes your heart sing. You CAN make a whirlwind trip memorable even if you come back a little bit tired. After all, not every adventure is a vacation.