The average American only has TWO weeks off per year. This means that they have to make the most of their vacation time. There are many ways to start planning ahead, one that has helped me MyPoints! I earn Points for shopping online, then redeem my points for dining and travel! Here are some useful Traveling tips to save you time!
1. Travel Open Jaw
If you want to cover a large distance on your trip, consider booking an open jaw ticket, which means you fly into one airport and fly out of another. For example, for a trip to California, consider flying into San Francisco, travel down the coast and fly out of San Francisco. Flying open jaw means you don’t have to lose time backtracking.
2. Fly direct
If you are flying to your destination, if you can manage it, fly direct. Flying direct means you are less likely to miss flights, deal with lost luggage and suffer through delays. This is especially important if you are thinking of booking a flight with reward points, which often have you making multiple stops. If you’re tight on time, consider saving those points for a trip when you have more time.
3. Carry-on luggage
Flying? Save yourself some time and a migraine and only bring on your carry on. This is a big time saver at both ends of the airport. You won’t have to wait in line at airport to tag and check in your luggage on your departure and when you arrive you don’t have to wait around for your stuff to be unloaded from the plane. You can happily skip by everyone waiting and be first in line to the rental car agency, or to grab a cab.
4. Train vs. Plane
Depending on where you are traveling the train can often be faster than a plane. In Europe and Asia the fast trains are a comfortable and quick way of traveling. For example, the train from the heart of Paris to the heart of London takes 2.5 hours, and a flight takes about an hour. Upon first glance the plane ride looks much faster, but when you factor in that you have to travel at least a half hour to and from the airports, arrive two hours early and may have to deal with delays, the train is a much faster option. And you get to see some great scenery along the way.
5. Use public transportation
Many people who drive in their everyday life are afraid of public transportation, especially in cities that they are not familiar with. Don’t be afraid, public transportation is an easy and cheap way of getting around. It saves you the hassle of playing around with directions and having to find parking. If the place you are visiting has a subway system, use it! Subways are not impacted by traffic, so they are almost always fast and on schedule.
6. Cheaper airlines are not always the best value.
Flying discount airlines is popular way of saving money when traveling, but it isn’t always the best use of your time. Many airlines get away with charging less for the flights because they use secondary airports that are far away from the destination. For example, discount airlines flying to Frankfurt often use an airport that is an hour and a half away. Signing up to Travel Newsletters is also a great way to stay up to date on the lastest deals out there.
7. Check in online when possible
Checking in for your flight online can save you lots of time at the airport. Many airlines let you check online up to 24 hours before the flight. You can print off your tickets or save them on your mobile phone, and when you get to the airport you can skip the lines of frustrated looking passengers and skip right on by to security.
8. Hotel near attractions
If your time is limited, consider spending the extra money to stay in accommodations close to the things you want to see. Hotels in Manhattan for example are expensive, so many people opt to stay in Brooklyn or New Jersey, but be sure to factor in travel time. If you only have 2 days to stay in the city, do you really want to give up a few hours every day traveling back and forth?
9. Mini Fridge in Accommodations
Don’t bother going out for breakfast, with a mini fridge, breakfast can be served in a snap. Milk, cereal and fresh fruit makes for a quick breakfast that can be eaten while you are getting ready.
10. Street Food
Don’t spend all your time eating in restaurants, eating street food can save you both time and money. Grab some food and find a nice spot to sit down and enjoy for a few minutes and you combine both eating and sightseeing. Some people may be wary of street food, but look for places with a line, which is a signal of fast moving, high quality food.
11. Eat during off hours
If you want to eat lunch at noon and dinner at six, prepare for lines and long waits to get your food, especially in popular restaurants. To get your food faster, eat during off-peak hours, which is usually a few hours before and after the popular dining times. You will get a table fast, and because the restaurants are not as busy, your food will be served faster too. Some restaurants like to let people take their time with their meals, so be sure to let your waiter know if you have to be finished eating by a certain time.
12. Pack snacks
Packing snacks helps save time when hunger strikes. Instead of venturing out to find something to satisfy our hunger and/or thirst, pack some snacks before you set out for the day. Dried fruit, nuts, dark chocolate etc and all easy to pack and satisfy your hunger pains. Bring a bottle of water and you’ll be set.
Hiring a guide for a day can be a great way to see a place in a short amount of time. Having a private guide means you get to see what you want on your time. Not feeling a museum? No worries, with a private guide you can leave when you want. Guides know their way around the city and attractions and are sensitive to time constraints. Many private guides also have their own vehicle making zipping around to the different attractions a breeze and you get to learn some history on the way.
14. Go mid week
Attractions are often most popular on weekends, when most people have their time off. If you have vacation time during the week, hit the popular attractions on weekdays and you will find the lines and wait times much shorter.
15. Arrive early or late
Are you an early riser, then aim to be in line for popular attractions for when they open. Waiting a few minutes for a spot to open is much better than waiting hours in line later in the day. Not only will you save time in line, but once inside, you will have the place to yourself for a short while and you can see a lot more without the crowds. Conversely, arrive at an attraction about an hour or so before closing. Most of the days crowds will have filtered out leaving you with short waits, and you can really make the most of the time you have.
16. Use Google Maps
Map out where you are staying, plan on eating and what you plan on seeing and pin each of these places to the map. This way you can see what places are near each other and better plan out your day. Google maps can also show you the best routes for driving, public transportation and walking to get you where you want to go.
17. Book tickets in advance
Some attractions let you book your ticket and even time of visit ahead of time. Buying tickets in advance can let you bypass the lines. Some theme parks also have this same type of system for popular rides, which let you into a special line at your designated time.
18. Consider group tours
Group tours can be a resource when time is of the essence, because they often include access to attractions without having to wait in line. For example, in Rome, the wait to see the Coliseum can be hours long, but if you are on a group tour you won’t have to wait in line. Group tours also do a good job of letting you see the major attractions quickly, which is great for trips when you are only in the city for a day, like if you are on a cruise. Be sure to check before booking whether you actually get to visit the attraction or just “view it” as you go by on the bus.
19. What type of vacation
Look at the amount of vacation days you have before planning your next trip. Only have a weekend? Don’t bother flying anywhere; pick a place close to home that’s within a three hour drive. Want to see a lot and get a taste of different cultures, but only have a week to do it?
Consider a cruise. 10 days and you want to do a grand tour of Europe? Group tours typically visit a number of destinations in a short amount of time.
20. Underrated activities
The more popular the attraction, the more crowded it’s going to be and the more time it is going to take you to visit it. Do some research and find some attractions that interest you that you may not have heard of. Choose a lesser known museum, check out the local cemeteries, find a quiet park etc, visit a local market etc.
21. Research before you go
Spending a few hours researching your trip before you leave can save you tons of time on your actual trip. Many people show up to attractions on the day they are closed, leading to disappointment. Popular restaurants can be booked up days, and even weeks in advance. Make back-up plans for rainy days so you’re not scrambling when there is a downpour on your beach day. Be sure to check out travel guides, forums and even blogs by people who live in the city you are planning on visiting.
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This guest post is written by Vanessa employee of Part Select. She loves to travel and makes the most of her vacation time.