top of page


1. The 2 hour flight rule.

Anything above that makes for a whole day of travelling and you really want to avoid this when you've just a weekend to spare. Make sure you’re also not driving for another couple of hours on the other end, especially if you happen to be unlucky and the plane is delayed...

Right, if you have 3-4 days off, fly as far as you like. But for 2 days, keep actual travel time to the minimum.

2. Cheaper flight options

I hate waking up in the morning, but Friday evenings can be super costly for flights. So flying early morning on Saturday and coming back on Monday helps. Not to mention cheap flights during the week, but that’s mostly for freelancers or for those who can convince their boss about taking days off during the week.

3. Practical planning

Plan things to do before you arrive at destination. Do it in the taxi, on the train, at the airport or at least browse through the in-flight magazine. Check what’s maximum an hour walk away from your hotel. Cafes, food spots, shops etc I often also ask friends for recommendations. Basically, when you get there, you don’t want to spend time on the phone doing last-minute research, instead have a to-do list ready. Some things will happen spontaneously anyway, but with limited time, try to prepare 3-4 items for your trip.

4. Do things you’re genuinely interested in, rather than ticking off 'the most popular' list

If you’re not into sharks, don’t go to the Amazingly Amazing Aquarium, or if you hate modern art, forget that famous museum ‘everyone should see’. I hate those ‘tick the box’ exercises…pointless.

If you like books, go to a cool bookshop. If you like gourmet coffee, look for the best local coffee and cake spot. Do something that suits your personality and hobbies, don’t just do the top ten because someone says so… (unless it’s my Top 10 article you’re reading! ;)

5. Don’t eat at the uber-touristy main squares

I bet you’ve heard this one before but AT ALL COTS avoid touristy food streets and squares, usually located just round the corner from popular attractions. And stay away from places that show you pictures of the dishes on the menu… there are exceptions to this rule, but that’s rare!

6. Walking is the best way to explore a city

…and you can burn some of the calories you are bound to eat along the way. You can also do cycling (especially recommended in the Netherlands or anywhere in Scandinavia) . Or scooters. Segways I don’t get….

There are also open top tourist buses but personally I’m not the biggest fan. I guess they are good for those who struggle with walking, whatever the reason. I prefer to walk, because I can look around, do it at my own pace, choose what route to take and not be tied up to specific bus stops or a timetable

Anyway I always include an afternoon walk in the park, come rain or shine, so for me walking is number one. And it’s free.

7. Meet up with a local friend

I’m lucky to have friends living all over the world, so I always try to meet up with them for a catch up dinner. They are a great source of information about the city and will know the best spots for food and shopping.

8. No unnecessary commuting on location

For such a short time avoid going from one end of the city to the other. Just do a reasonable (ideally walking) route which you can start and finish at the hotel. Or take an uber back;)

9. Variety you feel you’ve immersed yourself in the city without the pressure of competing in a do-it-all marathon.

Pick small, local food spots over big chains (sounds obvious but it’s so easy to fall into the ‘whatever’ trap without prior research), choose one big, obvious touristy attraction to visit and don’t ever try to see them all in a single day, and keep the other activities related to your interests (if you’re into records, go to the best record store in town, or should you be into vintage shops etc etc). And something memorable for end of the day: sunset on the city beach, quirky secret cinema, rooftop bar with a view.

10. Local supermarket sweep

Honestly, I treat it like an educational activity. It’s fascinating to see what other countries eat and supermarkets are a great way to see all kinds of quirky foods. Plus you can buy some tasty and reasonably priced souvenirs for your friends (or for yourself) . If you have hand luggage do mind the 100ml rule (unfortunately ) and some liquidy cheeses also don’t go through security gates (though depends who’s doing security…)

BONUS: Take photos, DEVELOP THEM and stick them into a proper album. Even photos you take on your phone. Yes, there’s Instagram, Facebook or that old hard-drive, but only real photo albums will stand the test of time.


Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page