Postcards from Sparrow: Around a city in 80 hours

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Postcards from Sparrow: Around a city in 80 hours

By Sparrow Butler

Although you may not be able to travel around the world in 80 days, you can travel around a city in 80 hours.

Whether you want to visit an international or domestic city, these tips will help you get the most out of your limited time.

Preparing for the best quick vacation starts before you even get on the plane or hop in the car to your destination. If you know what to pack and how much to pack, this will lower your stress level and cut back on the time you spend preparing for departure.

Last August, during the first week of fall classes at Pensacola State College (PSC), I was given an opportunity to go to Japan for the weekend. It was Wednesday night, and I was reviewing the syllabuses for my classes seeing if I could afford to skip my Thursday class to leave the country for the weekend.

That night, around 10pm, I booked my ticket for the flight that left the next morning at 6am. I had just six hours to pack a bag, sleep, and get to the airport in time to check in.

Packing light is the most important thing I’ve learned to do when traveling for a short amount of time. It can be tempting to take the whole house when packing last minute, but resist! Less is always more, because you want to take your luggage on the plane with you if possible. This way, you won’t have to wait at your destination for your luggage to be emptied onto the conveyor belt.

A simple black dress can be paired with heels for a nice brunch in the morning and a light jacket and tennis shoes can be added at night when you want to be comfortable, yet fashionable. A pair of jeans can be worn on the plane and used in the city, and you can use two or three shirts to layer if it gets cold at night. Keep in mind the temperature of the place you are going. If it is somewhere tropical, forget the jacket and grab a bathing suit.

I keep travel size bottles in my cabinet, so that I don’t have to run to the store when packing for a trip last minute; additionally, a bag is always packed with all my important documents for easy access.

Photo by Suzanne Butler A popular tourist attraction in Ireland is the Blarney Castle, which you can visit by booking through Viator for the best rate. Sparrow holds a picture of herself kissing the Blarney Stone. Irish legend says, if you kiss the Blarney Stone, you will be given the gift of gab (eloquent speaking) for seven years.

Booking a hotel in a central location cuts down on transportation time, and if you can find one that serves breakfast as well, this will help you spend as little time wasted as possible.

On my trip to New York City, I stayed at the Park Lane Hotel located next to Central Park. We spent our mornings using the subway to visit iconic spots like Times Square and the Museum of Modern Art where I beheld with my own eyes Vincent van Gogh’s 1889 painting, Starry Night.

In the evenings, we took advantage of the complimentary dinner our hotel offered, with a view of the setting sun over Central Park. As taxies passed by the window and lovers cuddled together in horse drawn carriages, I soaked in the life of the city from the comfort of my hotel window. Sometimes, traveling isn’t always about being on the go but how the quiet moments change your perspective.

If you have trouble finding affordable hotels centrally located, Airbnb is a great alternative to expensive hotels. You can even rent a room in someone’s house which will allow you to stay in a great location at an affordable price. The company’s growing platform assures safety, but double check the reviews on individual’s homes to ensure your experience is top notch.

When scheduling out your trip, plan for less, and then add on more if you end up with extra time. Day tours are a wonderful way to learn about the culture of a city, and they allow you to sit back while the tour guide does the hard work of planning.

Viator is a company that collects data from different tour sites and puts it all in one place at a discounted price. Whether you need tickets for a bus tour around the city, museum passes, or tickets to shows, they can help you experience the highlights of any city in a short amount of time.

In 2015, I went to Paris for a week and used the weekend to fly to Ireland. I stayed at a hotel in Dublin and used that location as the starting point for tours around the countryside. Using Viator, I booked two different day trips: the first to the Cliffs of Moher, and the second to the Blarney Castle.

The tickets were under $70 each, and both of the tours were eight hours long. Ireland is very spread out, so taking a bus tour allows you to experience the countryside in ways you couldn’t on your own. The drive itself is worth the money, but that price also includes tickets into the castle for the Blarney tour and onto the cliffs for the Cliffs of Moher tour.

Viator operates for nearly every city in the world, so whether you want tickets for the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, a gondola ride through in the canals of Venice, or a bus tour around New York City, it’s a great website to purchase your activities through.

For an added discount, Viator is now offering 10% off your first purchase if you sign up for emailed newsletters. The coupon is good for up to 30 days.

Photo by Suzanne Butler A popular place to visit in Ireland is the Cliffs of Moher. Tourist can book a bus tour to the Cliffs of Moher by using Viator and take in the breathtaking views at a discounted rate.

When exploring a big city in a small amount of time walk fast, eat quick, forget sleep, but most importantly, don’t get going so fast that you forget to soak in the culture. The locals will often point you to the most special places, so don’t be afraid to throw away your itinerary if necessary.

Sometimes, the unknown is the best part of the journey.

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