Ever been in that situation where you have only one day in a great new city that you’ve never been to before? You want to see it all but one day doesn’t allow for too much. While it does definitely limit a person’s sightseeing options, you can still fit a decent amount of activities + sleep into 24 hours. When I was a teen, a number of my family members and I went on a Mediterranean cruise. As excited as I was to be going to places like Athens and Messina with my cousins, it also stressed me out that we’d only have up to 16 hours in each port. My anxious inner monologue was going a mile a minute about how on earth was I ever going to see Athens in 16 hours or less!? Yeah, so I maybe I was a bit spoiled if this is what my stress levels centred around…
Ultimately, optimizing your available hours in any place comes down to a few easy things. Doing your research beforehand. If you’re booking a trip somewhere you probably already have a good idea of what that destination has to offer. Figure out which attractions mean the most to you. Also, what type of traveller are you? Is driving through London seeing the Parliament buildings, Big Ben, and other iconic city sights from atop a double decker bus enough to satisfy your travel needs? Or do you feel the need to actively touch the stonework of the Tower of London while the Yeoman Warder guides you through the enclosure in order to feel like you’ve really ‘seen’ it? Maybe you’re an avid museum goer and an art person who would rather spend a day at the Tate Modern or the British Museum instead? Or, maybe you just wanna shop Oxford street and stop in for some fish & chips at a good ol’ British pub. Whichever category you fall into, just decide what you, and your group if applicable, aim to accomplish before arrival.
Weather can have a big role in your touring activities as well. That nice long day you had planned to spend exploring Fort Edmonton Park in Edmonton, Alberta, won’t be that much fun in the pouring rain since it’s an outdoor park. This can be especially true if, like me, you are lugging a camera around everywhere. My camera, for one, does not like to be rained on. The Royal Alberta Museum and/or West Edmonton Mall would be better rainy day substitutes as they’re both indoors. Obviously, if you’re in a place like Luxor or Aswan, you’re pretty much guaranteed perfect brutally hot sunshine. However, if you’re in my neck of the woods – Alberta – then be prepared for the weather to be nothing like what the forecasters predicted it to be because this is the province that goes from snow to tornado warnings to flooding in a matter of days (or sometimes hours). Basically, just have a backup plan that you can quickly implement in the case of an unexpected change in outdoor conditions.
Beware of attempting to fit too much into a day. Speaking from personal experience, this is a recipe for a frazzled, stressed out day of pseudo touring because you’re more worried about getting from place to place on time and everything you still have to see than actually enjoying the things you have seen. Leave some wiggle room. You may just like one particular attraction more then you had anticipated and want to spend more time there. Or get stuck in a traffic jam. On the flip side, always have a couple backup destinations too. These could come in handy if you finish with your day’s planned activities early or if something is closed. Or again, if the weather’s inclement.
I know this isn’t always a viable option for some people, but I’ve found that one of the best ways to see the most in a limited amount time is to go solo. That way averting the obligation of most likely having to spend precious time someplace that wouldn’t necessarily be on your list of super must sees. I know it sounds selfish, but it really is a timesaver when you can just go exactly to the places that you value seeing the most. Few things have annoyed me more then when I was in Athens for a mere 12 hours and my entire family decided that they wanted to shop and sit down for a two hour lunch when I would have killed to be able to stay at the Parthenon longer. Again, kind of selfish, I know. I don’t care, it’s travel.
One more little thing I’ve noticed; in cities equipped with an underground, said public transportation is almost always faster then taking a taxi. Specifically in London and Manhattan.
Anyways, this is just how I go about preparing for a one day whirlwind exploration of a new and exciting place but I would love to hear how you guys manage it though! How do you all plan for this type of travel situation?