On my recent trip to Tokyo, I found myself a bit overwhelmed when planning – it had been awhile since I’d prepared for a trip to a really big city. Now when I go to spots like New York or Paris, I have a good idea of what to expect and so my planning isn’t too hectic, but Tokyo really threw me for a loop.
I was reminded of some old lessons and found some new ones – here are my tips for planning a (big) city break.
Transportation can make a city break fabulous and it can make it miserable. You really need to understand how everything hangs together – otherwise, how do you know if your hotel is in a great spot or hours from anywhere? If you can, find a local and ask about this one – a few local tips can make a big help. For example, in Tokyo, we found out that the “JR Yamanote” line runs in a circle past nearly every major sight, so as long as we picked a hotel very close to this line, we would be fine.
All kidding aside, once you’ve picked your base, it’s time to start deciding your priories – when it comes to big cities, you can never do it all, especially if you want a day or two for daytrip getaways. An easy way to do this is to pick your “top XX must haves,” where the XX is equal to the number of full days you have on the trip. You can at least get 1 thing done each day, and from there you can pick other things near those attractions to fit round your agenda.
I haven’t been to a city yet where I didn’t have to do a lot of walking. A lot of climbing up and down stairs. Lots of standing around. It’s really not the time to try out a new pair of shoes, nor is it a good idea to be blinging out on your most impractical footwear. Bring the comfy shoes. Even if you look ridiculous – at least you will not be hobbling back to your hotel room each evening.
Cities can be rough travel experiences with the variety of transport options, lots of traffic (pedestrian, car, or otherwise), the threat of crime. Lots to do, lots of choices to be made at every turn – what time to get up, where to eat, to stay in or go out, which museum, which daytrips… just remember, it’s supposed to be a holiday break, not a penance.
Photo by author.
Posted : Wednesday, October 24th, 2012 at 10:00
Andy Hayes is a travel journalist currently based in Seattle, Washington. When not soaking up the Pacific Northwest lifestyle or enjoying life on the road, he is spending time hanging out on his own travel lifestyle magazine, Sharing Travel Experiences.