As micro-travel trends and tightening budgets see more and more of us taking short breaks, here are ten top tips to help you make the most of your precious time away.
1. Prioritise location
When time is short, you don’t want to be walking even 20 minutes more than necessary to reach local restaurants, beaches, countryside – or whatever tickles your fancy. So go ahead and choose that hotel or apartment a bit closer to your interests. Unless the plan is to lounge indoors the whole trip, how luxurious does the room really need to be?
2. Pack lightly
It sounds obvious if you’re only going away for a few days, but many of us are guilty of overpacking. Do you really need that extra choice of outfit? Check the weather ahead and prioritise lightweight, practical clothes that suit as many activities as possible. Wear heavy shoes, like walking boots, to travel in.
The smaller and more manageable your bag, the faster you’ll be able to get around. From time gained not having to check luggage and wait for it at your destination, to easily packing again midway through or at the end of your break, to being able to run for a train if you need, the advantages are many.
Took me the whole weekend to “lightly pack”. Imagine if I waited last minute 🥲
— Daniela 🌸 (@danixwats) October 3, 2022
3. Shop ahead
If you’re self-catering you may be able to buy essentials online through a local supermarket chain and arrange for the delivery to arrive just after you do. Alternatively, and at least, look up the nearest supermarket to your destination or en-route there, to ensure you don’t waste time trawling around looking for food shops when you have other sights to see. For foodies, this approach frees time to explore street markets and delicatessens, rather than spending ages finding a source for mundane items. And don’t forget: check with your accommodation whether any food will be there on your arrival. If there’s wine, crackers, fruit and cheese, you might not need to get supplies at all!
4. Buy tickets in advance
Avoid losing time and your temper in queues and use online services ahead of time where possible, to buy tickets or services you’ll benefit from within your holiday. Check to see if any attractions, museums, or local transport companies have apps you can use and download them on wifi in advance, so you’re all set when you arrive.
5. Visualise your destination
Use online mapping (or why not a virtual travel experience) to check out the place before you get there, so you have a sense of local landmarks and road layout.
6. Go high
If you can, get to a high vantage point at your destination as early as you can in your trip. Go up a church tower or take a lift to a hotel roof bar or climb a hill! Having the overview of your surroundings will help you navigate and may even reveal a monument or local curiosity you might not otherwise have known about.
7. Allow time for serendipity
Don’t over cram your schedule. Even during a short break, you’ll want time to be whimsical or follow your nose.
8. Get local advice
Talk to the locals to get the best suggestions or find travel guides (published or in person) you trust, so you’re not led into experiences you’d rather not have had by random reviews. A longer holiday can withstand a disappointing day, but when every hour counts, you’ll want the comfort of the best advice. Not to mention, you’ll find out things about your destination, its history and vibe you might not otherwise have learnt.
9. Let family come to you
If the trip is for family or social reasons, manage expectations beforehand to ensure your schedule is humane. Consider staying somewhere where loved ones who live locally can come to you, rather than exhausting yourself by multiple journeys during a so-called break.
10. Be budget aware
Decide in advance your budget for impromptu expenses, and set aside a contingency, in cash if possible, so money doesn’t become a pressure or hassle when you’re on the spot with no cash machine in sight.