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How to Tackle a Big City When You Have Little Time

Anna Cadwallader



Although traveling to new destinations is exciting, it can be overwhelming trying to cram every touristy activity into a short visit. Instead of stressing, follow these simple recommendations for what to do in a city that also budget sufficient time for meals and beauty sleep.

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Plan Ahead

First, decide the top attractions that you want to see on your visit. If you’re unsure what a city has to offer, do some research to identify the most interesting sites for your taste. Otherwise, Fodor’s and other websites offer itineraries for different lengths of stays in various domestic and international locations. Some websites, like VisitACity.com, will even show you a suggested route of popular points of interest with recommended lengths of visits and distances to the next locations. It’s best to have a rough plan of your weekend before you arrive so you don’t waste time on your trip.

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Get Recommendations

When in Rome, do as the Romans. It’s always best to see a city from a local’s perspective. Therefore, ask your friends who travel often or someone you know who has studied abroad if they have recommendations for a specific city. Former study abroad students can be the most ideal plug into a city’s local culture because after spending months there, they know all of the best deals around town. If you don’t have friends who live or have lived in the city you’re visiting, you can also ask the hotel concierge.

Hire a Guide

Although many visitors feel capable of tackling a city without a guide, guides can be incredibly useful to help you hone in on the most important aspects of large museums. For example, you could spend days at the Louvre in Paris or the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. To avoid from becoming burnt out on art overload, a guide can tailor what you see and make your visit efficient and informative.

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If you’re able to use the data plan on your smartphone, Google Maps is always a trusty travel companion. However, if you’re traveling internationally and won’t have an international phone plan, City Maps 2Go is a great app for you. Before you head out and about, download your respective city’s map and Wiki Guide, which includes hundreds of Wikipedia articles about famous tourist attractions. By using your smartphone, you can avoid lugging around heavy travel books and using large maps, a clear sign of being a tourist. Another great app to have is a simple compass. You might feel like a modern day Lewis and Clark, but it will be a great resource in case you get directionally disoriented.

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