Since I travel quite a bit for work and am able to visit other cities in lieu of going back to my home base, many of my trips end up being quick less than 48 hour weekend jaunts. I love getting to explore new places even if it is for only a short period of time. Of course when you are only spending a weekend in a place you won’t be able to cover the countless restaurants, museums, parks and other points of interest all in one visit but you can get a good feel for what the city has to offer. There are multiple cities that I have gone back to visit because I loved being there on my first weekend escapade. There are definitely others that I enjoyed but will likely not be a repeat on my list and that’s ok. Either way…here are some travel tips to make the best of your trip.
Travel Tip #1. Prioritize your activities
Don’t get stressed out trying to see everything! As mentioned above, it will be extremely difficult to see everything during a single weekend trip. You should prioritize the items that you really want to see and then if you have additional time knock other items off of your list. If you are an avid planner, you can definitely set an itinerary and stick to it. For me personally, I like a little down time on trips and leave some flexibility in my days. Sometimes things happen that are out of your control [weather, events, traffic, etc.] so don’t freak out if you have to pivot.
Travel Tip #2. Take a bus tour.
When I have limited time in larger cities I always love going on a hop on hop off bus tour and here’s why. You are able to see the top sites and attractions in not only an efficient manner, but also at your leisure. You can spend extra time at certain locations and choose to skip those you are not interested in while still being able to see them in passing. Your knowledge gain is not limited to the actual stops as drivers narrate the drive and call out points of interests along with fun facts. Additionally most of these companies have tours that you are either able to take part in for free or for a small fee. Another perk is that you can use these buses as an additional mode of transportation if you want to reach a location that the bus services after taking the initial tour.
Travel Tip #3. Use Yelp.
Yelp can easily become your best friend. I use it mostly for food and coffee shops, but Yelp will also show you other points of interest. I love to scroll through the user generated content on Yelp to see reviews and photos, especially if I am between two places or menu items. While you are trying to decide on where to go, Yelp is great because it highlights popular dishes among users and gives you all of the important logistical information including hours, menus, etc. One of the lesser known Yelp tools is its personalization. You can add preferences, look at featured lists and even look for certain types of activities. Another travel heck with Yelp is that there are often discounts available.
Travel Tip #4. Utilize social media.
I cannot stress this one enough. This is an ultimate travel tip I live by. One of my favorite tools when planning a weekend trip is Instagram. I generally start by seeing if my location has a handle associated with it. Your best bet is to start with @visitXYZ. The goal of these accounts is to attract people to come visit so they highlight the items that would entice a potential visitor. These places generally are either highly rated, insta worthy, local specific or seasonally oriented [even better when something hits them].
Next I look at hashtags and location tags. More often than not I just scroll through items to see if there are any photos that jump out and speak to me. Some of the options I choose are #XYZfood #XYZtravel. It really just depends what you are looking to do.
P.S. Make sure to also look at local blogs and community sites for suggestions.
Travel Tip #5 Plan by area or neighborhood.
If you have certain places that you know you don’t want to miss make sure that you know where they are in relation to one another. Whenever possible check off the items on your list by geographic area. There is nothing more annoying than heading somewhere and realizing it is right by where you were before! Even if you aren’t sure exactly what you want to do you should start in one neighborhood and move from there. Piggybacking off of tip #2, my favorite way to do this is to attempt to follow the path set by a hop on/hop off tour and branch off whenever needed.
Travel Tip #6 Use public transportation if possible.
This may seem daunting to some but taking public transportation is often the cheapest and quickest way to get around in big cities. While this may not be the case in many smaller cities it is still worth a try. Many cities even provide free trolleys or buses. If this isn’t up your alley you can always going for the usual suspects: rental car, ride share or taxi. Some of my favorite cities for using public transportation include New York City, Washington D.C., Philadelphia, Boston and Seattle.
Travel Tip #7 Use hotel amenities.
If you are staying at a hotel that requires you to pay an amenity fee, use the amenities. Amenities can vary from free events and vouchers to free modes of transportation. If you are already paying for it, might as well use it! Am I right?
These are just a few of my travel tips, but there are always more to come. What are your travel tips for making the most of a single weekend in a city?