Travel is great. Even if the journey is tiring or stressful, knowing there’s a world to explore on the other side makes it all worthwhile. But what about when the journey takes almost as long as your holiday time? How do you make the most of a new location when you’ve been travelling for hours, and know you’ll have to travel again in just a short time? It’s easier than you think, and all it requires is a little forward planning and some clever travel optimisation.
Make travel time part of the adventure
Long coach journeys for short stays tend to be born of necessity, as the majority of people would opt for a train journey, or better yet a short-haul flight, to reach their destination in less time.
But just because you’re travelling a long distance doesn’t mean you have to endure long stretches of boredom. If you’re flying, check if there’s onboard WiFi available. If you’re travelling by train or coach, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to get WiFi. If not, pre-load some movies on your device to keep you occupied.
Often flying long distances for a short period of time is unavoidable – particularly when you’re travelling on business. If you are travelling for work, treat the journey as an opportunity to get some prep time in for when you land.
Consider treating yourself
It’s important to choose your seating carefully, regardless of the transport you choose. If you have a choice of where to sit, you’ll be glad you put some advance thought into it after ten hours in the same space.
First class can be prohibitively expensive on planes, but on long train and coach journeys, it could mean the difference of just a few pounds. The difference in quality, however, can be startling. If you’re travelling on business, you could even suggest an upgrade as a necessary expense to ensure you arrive ready to kick some corporate ass.
With only a limited time when you arrive, you want to be on top of your game, so it could be worthwhile investing that little bit extra to travel in what are usually drastically more comfortable surroundings.
Adjust sleeping patterns
If you’re flying, jet lag can be a serious obstacle to getting the most out of your trip. Reaching your destination only to sleep flat out then head home is the last thing you want.
If you’re riding train or coach, regulating your sleep should be easier but can still be a challenge, particularly if the journey begins early in the morning. Be honest with yourself, staying awake for a ten-hour bus journey after too little sleep is unrealistic. Try to get off to sleep for a few hours first and make sure you wake up with enough time to get your bearings.
If you’re taking a night bus, make sure you’re ready to sleep when you board. That way you can wake up feeling refreshed and ready to conquer the day.
Invest in travel comforts
Travel comforts aren’t just there to make your journey more comfortable – they mean you’re ready to make the most of your new destination the moment you arrive.
Wear the comfiest clothes you can, buy yourself a travel pillow and, if you’re a light sleeper, bring a set of earplugs and a sleeping mask. A comfortable journey can make a world of difference to how you experience a new setting.
Ensure all your gadgets are charged so you don’t have to waste time waiting for them to charge when you arrive. If your phone is prone to running out, consider investing in an extra travel charging device. There’s nothing worse than losing valuable time when you arrive waiting for that phone to charge.
It may seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many people don’t think to pack some essentials. You’re going to be travelling for a long time, and even if there’s an in-journey meal, you may find yourself hankering for something when you arrive
If you’re arriving late at night, your eating options may be limited. That’s why it’s better to prepare for the worst and bring some essentials. Even if you plan to hit the hay when you arrive, packing emergency snacks give you a better chance of waking up ready to conquer your new surroundings.
For long flights, make sure you only pack dry foods that can make it through security. That being said, it’s best to avoid salty foods as they can exacerbate jet lag. For train and coach journeys, try to get a good balance of nutrients so you feel in tip-top shape when you reach your destination.
Plan your time out in full
This one is important if you want to get the most from your time at your destination. Arriving on time, refreshed and ready is great but, if you aren’t prepared, it could all be for nothing. If it’s your first time in a new city, selecting a route can be challenging. But if you have a good idea of the places you want to see, it’s a good idea to have a rough plan of action.
It’s not just about knowing where you want to be when you arrive: it’s important to know the best time to visit particular landmarks. The most popular attractions tend to fill up around midday, so consider hitting the most prominent landmarks early in the morning and exploring the lesser known spots later in the day.
Of course, it’s important to be realistic too. You might be able to fit five major landmarks spread across a city into one day, but that doesn’t mean you’ll be able to enjoy any of them in such a short space of time. Likewise, if it’s clear your original plan was unrealistic, or external factors conspire against your route, don’t be afraid to improvise and adapt.
So while a short-stay trip certainly presents its own unique set of challenges, it’s by no means a waste of time. Planning, practical thinking and realistic expectations will give you greater freedom when you arrive while taking steps to optimise the travel experience will help you hit the ground running. After all, it’s just as much about the journey as it is the destination.