Thursday, 3 November 2016

The Fine Art of Well Timed Travel

I would never class myself as a seasoned foreign traveller (... pickled maybe?) but I've certainly fell beneath the spell of wanderlust over the years, and found myself on a few planes, boats and trains. Some of these trips were so-called sun holidays lasting a week or two but over the last 10 years or so my travel has become short-burst city visits. I try to fit all my 'must-dos' into a stupidly small amount of time, like squeezing a size 9 foot into a size 8 brogue, while wearing too-thick socks - it's possible but requires planning, persistence and perhaps a small amount of pain!

Over time I've perfected this shock and awe (... and occasionally, 'Aw!') method of travel to a point where I have formulated a few golden rules that suit my demeanour, budget and my beer-food-travel wants when I feel the tug of travel.

What I've learned can be broken down into one main point...


Time is Your Enemy!

So, how do we combat it? Well here are a few quick pointers:
  • Stay in the city centre, or close to the sights you want to see. Even if it costs a little more you'll save time, and feel more a part of the city itself. Think of the three Cs ... cheap, clean and central when looking for accommodation.
  • Fly to an airport that has early flights inward and late flights outward, this will give you a few extra hours to see that last museum or gallery.
  • Get up early! An obvious one but often disregarded. My favourite time to walk a city is early Sunday morning. Sure you get more rubbish stuck to your shoes but you see the city in a different light, often literally.
  • Avoid long sit-down meals. Graze instead in good bars, from street food vendors and at decent fast-food places.
  • Download offline maps of the city to your app and highlight your must-sees, these you can access while away without incurring costs. Also, make sure the place you want to see is at that location - streetview apps are your friend here.
  • Note museum, gallery, restaurant and bar opening times via their web pages, Google isn't always up to date, and many places close on Mondays too. Check before you plan your days.
  • If travelling as a group, an airport transfer can cost less than public transport and get you to and from your hotel quickly, depending on your location and the airport's. And these days pricing and booking can be done online.

Those are the main time-based pointers I can think of, but here are a few other things to remember:
  • Ignore the actual ratings on travel, restaurant and bar review sites but read any relevant 'facts' when choosing somewhere to go. Immediately discard and very high or very low ratings.
  • Bring a shoulderable handbag/manbag to keep your notebook and pencil (If you're a blogger or writer...), water, phone powerpack, and a change of shirt, plus plasters, deodorant, wipes, etc. - be prepared!
  • Wear practical, light walking shoes/trainers with cushioned insoles, and comfy unrestrictive clothes.

There you go, those are the main ones but there are others that I've probably forgotten...

And don't do anything stupid like drink too much, especially without a wingman, or lose your bearings late at night. Be safe and relatively sensible ... and most importantly, enjoy your trip!


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