The first day of a trip usually means joy and excitement, but it can also be a darn tiring day: waiting at the airport, trying to find your way around a new city, getting settled at a new ho(s)tel, discovering that you’ve forgotten to pack something. Of course, you can’t foresee all that can go wrong; however, you can prepare your ‘take-off’ in such a way that the first day of your trip really does feel like the start of your vacation.
The ‘Getting There’
Things to do
Some of you might travel by car, others by train or bus, some even by ship — and I know plenty of you will take a plane. No matter your means of transportation, there will almost always be a moment of boredom. You know, that moment when you realize you’ve still got an hour before boarding starts, or when your travel partner falls asleep even before the train has left the station.
I often find boredom more nerve-wrecking than being busy, so I always bring something to do. You all know the options: a book, an iPod, a travel-sized game or ear plugs in case you want to sleep. Just don’t think those four hours will fly by, even though you’re in the air. Even when you’re an easy sleeper you might get unlucky and end up sitting next to a crying baby, a snoring man or someone who fell asleep before you and is now using you as a pillow. Hey, you never know!
Getting There…In One Piece
I dislike flying. There, I’ve said it. I love to travel, but I don’t like flying at all. It’s not that I’m scared, but I always find it either too hot or too cold on board of a plane. On top of that the air is usually really dry and the food… don’t even get me started. It’s not strange to feel nauseous because of turbulence or to get a headache because of the air conditioning. Not fun, but if you bring the right medication you’ll feel better in no time. Even better is battling those physical annoyances with something natural like… food. Now, I’m not talking about air plane food (although some companies do their best, I know!), but about food you can bring to eat in-flight.
You don’t want to arrive at your vacation destination feeling like someone hit you on the head and there’s a band playing in your stomach, now do you?
After Your Arrival
Okay, you’ve arrived at your destination and you’re still feeling chipper. Great! You can make it easy for yourself and take a taxi to your ho(s)tel; however, if you’re like me there’s no way you’re spending money on a taxi. So it’s on to the train/bus/subway/pavement!
Finding your way in a new city — let alone somewhere in the country side — can be daunting, but fear not! He who comes prepared shall not walk in circles.
When you’re preparing your trip, check out the website of the airport of your destination to see which means of transportation will get you where you need to be. You can also check out bus and train websites — Google is your best friend for this — or do a simple Google Maps search to see if you can walk to your ho(s)tel.
Golden tip: I absolutely love the TripAdvisor forums for this. Although I always do my own research, I also check on their destinations forums if my way of getting somewhere is indeed the easiest and/or cheapest. There are many locals on TripAdvisor and they usually know things you can’t easily find on official sites, for example, that you don’t need to take bus X at time Y because you’ll end up in a horrific traffic jam. These forums are free to use once you create a TripAdvisor account.
At Your Ho(s)tel
If you’re only visiting a city for a short period of time, like the weekend, you might decide not to check-in at your ho(s)tel until it’s evening and immediately start exploring. In most cases, however, you’ll probably want to check in first. So let’s just assume that you’ve arrived without feeling terrible and have found the way to your ho(s)tel without getting lost. Now what?
You could just throw your bags into the room and take off again, but I urge you not to. At least take a toilet break (I’m not kidding – you never know what kind of toilets you’ll run into later in the day).
Before I go into this last point, let me just say I’m an avid organizer. This doesn’t mean I make by-the-hour schedules on what needs to be done at what time when I’m traveling; however, I do make sure I know beforehand when the places I want to visit are open and the best way to get to those places. I make daily plans, but only to make sure I’ll know how to fill my days.
Sometimes I might mix these plans up, skip some things and add some new things. The point is I’ll never not know what to do next. I’m aware planning isn’t for everyone — and for those I suggest reading these tips on how to plan a trip without making plans — but I do think that a minimum of research can help you prevent some ‘choice stress’ on your first day.
When you arrive at a ho(s)tel they usually give you a map of the area, marked with some sights. You can head out and see what you come across, but I know I’d find it difficult to choose where to start. If you’ve done a little research beforehand you’ll know what area is nice what time of the day, and which things you’d rather keep for another day when you’ve got more time.
That’s it! You’ve just started you’re trip, and after a successful first day all you have to do is enjoy a good night’s sleep. Note: If you’ve traveled across time zones you might want to have a look at these tips for beating jet lag.
About The Author
Sofie Couwenbergh is a Belgian language lover who combines a full-time job with a never-ending wanderlust. She uses her weekends, vacation days and public holidays to travel the world and share her experiences with you on wonderfulwanderings.com. Be sure to follow her on Twitter and Facebook.