When you're traveling it never seems like there are enough hours in a day, let alone enough vacation days in a year. No matter where you go there's always more than enough to see, and even if you prefer to relax, you can never spend too many hours sitting by the pool.
So if you find yourself on a short trip, the last thing you want to do with that precious time is waste it. Unfortunately, there are many aspects of travel that involve doing nothing for long periods of time. Luckily there are ways to avoid these time-wasting activities and get straight to enjoying your vacation.
Waiting in Security Lines
Most of the time, arriving at least two hours before your flight is necessary to make sure you can get through security in time. It's impossible to know how long it will take, but there are a few things you can do to get to your gate faster.
If you're flying out of the U.S., signing up for TSA Precheck allows you to keep your shoes on at security and buys a bit more time for you to enjoy your destination. Similarly, if you're arriving on an international flight, waiting in the long lines at Immigration and Customs can be time-consuming, especially when many planes are arriving at the same time. But with Global Entry, you can be pre-approved, skip the lines, and get on with your vacation.
Flying with Connections
Naturally if you book a ticket on a connecting flight, it's probably going to be cheaper but take a lot longer. But even if you can budget enough time to accommodate this extra-long itinerary, you're running a huge risk. The more connections you have and the more stops your plane has to make, the more likely it is you'll run into delays. When booking, remember there is a big difference between "direct" and "non-stop." The difference is that a direct flight can sometimes mean stopping even if you don't have to get off the plane, while a non-stop flight will not land until you arrive at your final destination.
Flying to an Airport Far Away From the City
In big hub cities that handle a lot of air traffic, there are often multiple international airports that serve the area. However, not all these airports are equally far away from the main city. For example, JFK in New York is twenty miles from central Manhattan, while LaGuardia is only ten. It's best to do your research and book an airport closer to the city so you can spend less time getting there and back, especially if it's a city notorious for traffic jams.
Staying Far Away From What You Actually Want to See
It might be cheaper to stay outside the city's central tourist district, but when you factor in the cost of transportation and how long it will take to get where you want to go, it's just not worth it. You'll waste so much time on buses and subways and run a higher risk of getting lost along the way. It's much easier to pay a higher price for a hotel closer to what you've come halfway across the world to see. You'll be able to avoid the frustration of getting there and will have more time to enjoy it!
Waking up to a hotel breakfast might seem like a convenient way to start the day, but it can be a huge time suck. When you've got a packed itinerary ahead of you, there's no time to be leisurely surveying the continental spread. Instead of the big breakfast, opt for something on the go. You can grab a pastry and a coffee at a local cafe and get a jumpstart on the day.
Waiting in Long Lines
No matter where you go, there is always plenty to see and hordes of other tourists that also want to see those things. For the more popular attractions like the Eiffel Tower or the Colosseum, this often means standing in long lines just to get in. The crowds are unavoidable, but you can beat the lines. Make sure to research your destination beforehand and check to see that tickets can be bought ahead of time. You can also look into purchasing a CityPass, before you go, which works as a single ticket for all the popular attractions.
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Spending Too Much Time at Gift Shops
I hate to break it to you, but gift shops are all the same. You might have noticed that every gift shop in any given city seems to sell the same style of T-shirts and magnets with very little variation. There's nothing wrong with visiting the gift shop to pick up souvenirs for friends and family back home, but there's no need to visit more than one or two. When you've traveled long and far to enjoy a new and beautiful city, do you really want to waste time scouring for the "perfect" shot glass?
More from SmarterTravel:
- 10 Ways to Speed Through Airport Security
- 8 Cheap Ways to Kill Time During a Layover
- How to Get a Better Seat Next Time You Fly