So you want to go away for a long weekend but you have absolutely no idea where to start right? Whether its a romantic getaway with your partner, a girly weekend away shopping and partying, or a simple solo trip to relax and have some much needed downtime. Follow some of my best tips and you really can’t go wrong.
If you`re a bit of a travel novice the first place you need to head is Skyscanner. A comparison tool for low cost flights around the world, they can show you the cheapest month to travel and the cheapest days in the month to fly. If you’re not that flexible they can still find the cheapest options for your dates and direct you straight to agency and airline websites without any hidden extra costs. Holiday Pirates is another starting point that if you haven’t checked out you are seriously missing out! They offer some of the best deals around and include DIY packages where you can mix and match the best dates, hotels and flights or alternatively full packages with everything included usually for an absolute steal.
When it comes to hotels Trip Advisor will become your best friend. You can check customer reviews and locations to make sure you are getting exactly what you are looking for. Make sure your hotel is not a million miles away from local transport links and check if there are any restrictions on checking in and out: you may find some hotels have their reception in a different location to the hotel itself so find out this information before you travel. Comparison tools such as Air B&B and lastminute.com allow you to sort by distance so you can chose how close to the city centre you stay and they let you book right up to the day you’re staying, often with some great reduced prices.
Although taxis may seem like the easiest option they can often be very costly especially once the driver realises you are a tourist without much clue as to where you are going. Negotiate a price before you set off and have a look online at some basic prices if you plan on using taxis. Public transport is the easiest and cheapest way of travelling around and most European cities offer 24 hour passes which allow you to use all buses, trams and trains for under 10 Euros. You can research transport routes before you go and there are apps you can download which can help you including Google Maps and City Mapper.
Sightseeing buses and tours can be a rip off but they can also be a really good deal so make sure you research all options before you go. In Budapest we found the hop on hop off ticket was totally worth it as your ticket includes 2 different routes, an evening bus tour and an evening cruise along the river over 48 hours; whereas in Rome, its easy to navigate between all of the sites and there is so much to see and experience whilst walking around that you miss sitting on a bus that its not worth the 22 Euros you pay.
If its your first time visiting a city a walking tour can be a good place to start which helps to orientate you and the guides are often full of great tips, do’s and don’ts and must see sites you might have missed. Sandemans offer free walking tours in 18 European cities which operate on a solely tips basis and they are the best at what they do. Many companies offer similar tours so just have a quick google but be sure to check reviews first. They are a great way to cover a lot of ground if you’re not in a city for very long.
If your flight is not until the evening often your hotel will have somewhere you can leave your luggage whilst you spend your last day exploring. If you’re waiting to check in there are often places you can leave your luggage in most main cities just check online or ask at any main transport station. For a small fee you can leave your bag for however long you need allowing you to take full advantage of your time in the city.
Be realistic – when we planned our anniversary trip to Italy we didn’t put much research in beforehand – only rough ideas of where we wanted to visit and basic prices of travel and length between cities. As our itinerary wasn’t finalised we had to book all train tickets on the day of travel and this led to some hefty prices and credit card bills. We are also guilty of trying to cram in way too much in a short space of time and found that once we arrived in a city our first point of call was to dump the luggage, head to the centre and explore! Be realistic about how long you will be somewhere and how much you can fit in during that time. Don’t overdo it remember this supposed to be a holiday and a break from our mundane day jobs.