After booking your tickets, the hassle of travel, finding and reaching your accommodation, you’re finally here. You can go off and explore… but you didn’t consider this bit. Where do you go? How do you get there? What do you need?
Planning a day trip when you’re abroad is different from when you’re at home, and different from what you did to get there. It’s nice to be spontaneous, but some things are best not left to chance. There are lots of tips on where to get the information you need, but it’s always good to keep in mind that a lot of what you need to know can be found out from locals.
1. Choosing where to go and what to do
Once you reach your destination you’ll probably feel one of two things: Tired, or full of energy.
If you’re feeling mellow you can spend the first day doing leisurely activities, like walking around where you’re staying, finding a cafe or food place to sit down in, or resting in bed to plan your next adventure
If you find yourself energetic you can consider activities like visiting local heritage sites, wildlife spaces, nature trails, city tours, food places, music venues, dance and art spaces, or museums. To find out what your location is renown for, some places to search online are:
To narrow down what you can do you’ll need to consider the time you will set out, the weather in the area, and your budget. These will also give you a good idea of how much to fit in one day.
2. Planning the day
Depending on the type of traveller you are, planning your day trip will look different. You might want as little set in stone as possible, or everything scheduled before hand. Transport, food, and money are important for both travel types. Before you embark on your day trip it might also be a day trip of its own to sort out necessities you need such as a local sim card, with internet included if you can and exchanging enough currency to get around.
Once you’ve decided what you’d like to see, you can start figuring out how to get there. If you are on a budget, local transport will save you money. Again, locals will probably know a lot about this, but if you have a smartphone you could also use Google Maps, or Waze (an app whereby local commuters input their knowledge of the best routes).
Every city will usually have bus stops or metros where you can get information on times and locations. Local transport is also good for meeting people along the way. Maybe in a spontaneous mood you could choose an interestingly named place and just hop on the train.
In all these cases it’s important to find out what time the last transport back home leaves, so you’re not stuck!
If you can afford it, private transport, like Taxis, Uber or Autos, is also helpful to take you exactly where you need, saving time and energy you might have spent trying to jump onto a bus already driving away. When you have private transport you can go at your own pace, have more room to look around and stop wherever you like. If you really like transport you can make it your whole day’s plan by renting a bike or scooter, or finding a local bus tour.
In the hype of a new place, it’s easy to forget how horrible travelling hungry can be. If you have a long day ahead of you, it’s good to find places near your destination that serve food you’d like to eat. Of course there’s also a joy in letting your nose guide you, in which case packing some small snacks will be helpful (incase all goes wrong and you don’t find anything).
If you won’t be around much food later in the day (like maybe on a hiking trip), you can stuff a big breakfast before you head out, to buy you a few more hours.
Your budget makes a difference to where you can go, and what you can do on a day trip. Spontaneous purchases are fun but if you know you really want to eat at a fine dine restaurant, then plan around it. If food isn’t important you can splurge on gifts for friends and look for street food. Or hold off on purchases to afford the city wide taxi ride. Sometimes laying it out helps, so you can use this template to get a clearer idea of where you can spend more and where you can spend less:
Often, where you choose to prioritize your money will shape your day trips.
Every traveller should bear in mind a few important safety tips. Find the numbers for local emergency lines. Know the address of your accommodation. Find a safe way to either carry your valuables on your day trip, or a secure place to leave them behind. But also allow yourself to enjoy where you are! One day can’t possibly go that wrong....can it?
3. What to pack for a day trip
You’ll want to bear in mind what you’re packing for!
In cities you won’t need to worry as much, there are usually many options around. But in a nature park or hiking trek you will probably want to carry food with you! Carrying water, however, is always relevant
In hot countries: sunscreen, hats, or breathable clothing. In cold countries pack warmly, and in rainy countries: dry resistant everything!
Who knows when you might want to read a book?
Specific and general, depending on what kind of risks are around you.
This is a little old school if you have a smartphone, but never a harm to carry a paper map.
Your packing list will probably vary a lot depending on what you want to do, but these are some across-the-board basics.
4. Who to travel with?
Solo traveling can be really nice for the freedom to do what you want, and go at your own pace. I also think there’s a lot of value to sharing experiences, and sometimes makes new places less daunting. You can find fellow travelers in the area on websites like https://www.workaway.info/ if you want to pair up with someone for a bit, no strings attached ;). For a day trip, another traveller might show you things you wouldn’t find on your own, and might pack things you completely forgot to.
There’s a lot to do wherever you are. Don’t hold back on enjoying yourself, or respectfully taking part in what’s around you, but a little looking out for yourself might go a long way. One thing about all day trips? Anything is possible.