BUDGET TRAVEL TIPS
Planning a Quick Getaway? Don't Make These Common Mistakes
You have four nights free—enough time for a trip to, say, Paris? Yes. A long-distance trip can make sense on a short timeline, but only if you're smart enough to avoid these eight pitfalls.
Mistake #5: Winging it
On a recent girls getaway with four friends to Miami Beach, Janet Malin of Tampa, FL, found herself wishing she'd figured out her group's dining logistics ahead of time. "We got to the hotel and had a few drinks by the pool, and next thing we knew it was time to go out for dinner," she recalls, "But we hadn't booked a table anywhere and couldn't decide on a place we all wanted to hit." The group ended up wandering aimlessly around South Beach before settling on a random place. Sure, it's hard to predict weeks in advance if you (and your traveling companions) will be in the mood for Italian or if you'd rather have tapas on any given night, but reservations aren't usually set in stone. Research dining options ahead of time, or call your hotel's concierge for recommendations after you book your room.
Mistake #6: Forgetting to prepare for a new time zone
Unlike some of the other tips on this list, the advice for dealing with jet lag on short vacations is the same as on longer getaways. "Anywhere you go, do everything possible to maintain the new time schedule you're on," advises Cooney. "If I'm flying to say San Francisco from the east coast, I would immediately go out after arriving at the hotel, walk around the city, have dinner, have a cup of coffee… the objective is to try and get on the new time zone as soon as possible." If it's already nighttime in your destination when you step on the plane, pass on the in-flight meal and movie and pop in the earplugs for a snooze instead—that way you'll be waking up with the locals, instead of feeling like it's time to sleep when you touch down. Plan lots of outdoor activities for your first day in a different time zone, too—the sunlight and fresh air will keep you energized. If there's no avoiding a snooze, try to limit yourself to a 20-minute power nap.
Mistake #7: Dressing for only one part of the day
Does anyone still wear fanny packs and those zip-off cargo pants anymore? We hope not. When your time is limited, avoid dressing like a tourist on urban exploration, which most likely requires heading back to the hotel to change for the evening. The key is smart layering. For both men and women, a thin T-shirt with a cardigan or blazer is a good way to go in temperate climates. And for footwear, opt for comfortable leather shoes instead of the sneakers from your gym bag. Plus, choosing clothes that you can wear all day and into the night makes packing a breeze, and diminishes the chance that you will have to check a bag (remember Mistake #2?).
Mistake #8: Mapping out where you are—once you get there
Unless you're fine with just seeing where the wind blows you—and hey, we're all for spontaneous travel at times—you'll lose a lot of time on the ground if you don't have at least an idea of the layout of your destination before you arrive. If you are going international, grab cash from the ATM at the airport so you don't have to search out a bank hear your hotel. And make like grade school and do your homework: Study maps before you leave and figure out the best route to take from your hotel to the attractions and restaurants you plan to visit. Pre-planning extends to knowing the physical location of the airport you fly into, too, as it relates to the city center, says Malin, who's made the mistake of choosing a cheaper flight into a satellite airport that required more transit time to reach the city center.
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