Whether travelling or on your home turf, you can’t beat a day trip for exploring more of your surroundings. We tend to forget how many new experiences are within a few hours’ drive away. There might be a specific attraction that you want to see, or maybe you just want to explore an area of the city, with different food, architecture and shops than you usually frequent.
Follow these four simple steps below to make the most of your day trip:
Step 1: Activity overload
What do you want to see and how long is it likely to take? If there is a specific attraction like Disney land or the Taj Mahal do a quick online search for how long it is predicted to take. Travel blogs and Trip Advisor reviews are great places to gather this type of info. If you want to explore an area or group of attractions, things get a bit more complex but we will get to that in a minute. Either way your trip will be much more pleasant if you allow for a leisurely pace and timeouts for things like lunch and bathroom breaks. Better that you have to come back another day, than end the day stressed, with a giant headache from rushing around all day without a moment to relax and appreciate the moment. Remember you could always extend your adventure to an ‘over-nighter’ for an extra treat. While your online, double check whether you need to pre-book tickets or if they can be purchased on the day. In some circumstances, multi-passes may save you money, in some not so much so do your research.
Step 2: Plan all the things
This is the fun bit! Write a list of the attractions you want to see or experiences you want to have then put them in order from must see, to it would be great if I have time. Check out my blog on how to travel in your own city for ideas to optimise your exploration. If you have lots of different stops to make you can plan them out on a map. Google maps are great for showing the distance between locations but your Lonely Planet map will do fine too. When you can see all your activities laid out choose a logical route between them, prioritising your most important sites. Remember to give yourself lots of time to enjoy each location. As well as transit time between sites and stops for lunch and bathroom breaks. I would add a little extra time because you never know when there will be a long line or something you want to spend some extra time on.
Step 3: Transport
What transport is available? If you are driving you should research where you can find parking and how much this will cost you. If you are using public transport, when is the first bus in and the last bus out? You should have a rough idea by now of how long your adventure will take and if you can afford to sleep in or need to be there first thing. My advice is to aim to be on the second to last bus home at the latest. This means if something goes wrong and you are delayed there will be one more bus and you won’t be left stranded, taking some of the stress out of unfamiliar travel routes.
Step 4: Be prepared
You have a plan, the only thing left to do is make sure it runs as smoothly as possible, so you can enjoy your adventure. Start by setting some reminders on your phone so you don’t sleep in or miss the bus home. Check the weather forecast so you will be prepared with the right gear and pack your day pack the day before so that you are sure you have everything you will need. Staying hydrated and eating regularly will make a big difference in how much you enjoy your trip. Try to stick to your existing routines as much as possible. For your day bag, my recommendation is to go as light as possible. In saying that though the whole idea is to make your day as comfortable and enjoyable as possible. So if you have bad knees pack that fold up stool if it’s going to make your day better it’s worth doing!
Here are some essentials for your day pack:
Bottled water – hydration is key.
Band-aids – for bothersome blisters.
Map – digital or paper make sure you can find your way around.
Key info – in a foreign city the address of your accommodation and other key travel info is handy just in case you do get lost.
Local currency - small bills and correct change for transport is a must.
Sunblock/insect repellent – sunburn and bug bites sucks be prepared.
Loo paper – depending on where you’re travelling this may not be provided in public restrooms.
Hand sanitizer – for less than stellar facilities.
Weather appropriate gear – keep bulk to a minimum but don’t freeze/burn/get soggy if you don’t need to.
Snacks – to keep going when things haven’t gone to plan and there are no shops in site.
With these four steps, you should be all prepared for your ultimate day trip. What were you favourite day trips ever? If you have day trip hacks please share them in the comments section below, I love anything that can optimise my own travel. =)