Being on the move for 12 out of 16 weekends during my semester in Ireland forced me to become an even better planner. Maintaining a high level of excitement and interest for long periods of time can be exhausting, even while visiting the most beautiful and engaging places, and over-planning your travels can actually ruin the experience. Here’s some simple advice for sightseeing:
1. My golden rule: Do your homework by researching your destination! Ask around for recommendations from friends (or Google) on places worth visiting (or not), accommodations (though should be booked ahead in most cases), food to eat, nightlife, weather, transportation, and any “sketchy” areas to stay out of.
2. Similar to budgeting techniques or choosing courses for school, make a prioritized list. Write down hours of operation, cost, and locations of the places you think are most important to see. That way, if you run short on time or something goes wrong, you have an idea of how to make the best of it!
3. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or make friends, whether you’re on a college trip, family vacation, soul-searching journey, or couples’ retreat! Engaging a local or fellow tourist with conversation normally involves little or no risk, and unless they’re extremely annoying or unhelpful, no regrets. It’s the easiest way to gain insight to the area and possibly some interesting company!
4. Familiarize yourself beforehand with the area, if possible. Online maps are helpful to print for initial navigation. Once you’re there, tourist offices in airports and bigger cities often have free ones marked with user-friendly landmarks.
5. Listen to your body! If you’ve been touring for days on end and can’t trick yourself any longer that your feet “are feeling fine” and you’re “up for anything”, make plans for less exerting activities. Though walking everywhere can be one of the most interesting ways to see a city, instead take the metro or bus, which are normally inexpensive. This way, you’ll save time by getting there faster, be able to keep up your energy longer, and thank yourself later.