Weekends Away - 8 Helpful Tips for Travel

by Ed Forteau /
Ed Forteau's picture
Sep 18, 2011 / 0 comments

Weekends Away - 8 Helpful Tips for Travel

You're studying abroad, on sabbatical, or renting a home abroad for a few months. Lucky You! There are many wonderful things of being overseas for a while - getting to live like locals, getting to KNOW the locals, traveling off the beaten path, having the grocer know your name, and finding the best places for good food, whether at the market or in your neighborhood.


But you don't always want to stay there - hence, weekends away! You're in a different place, and weekends are perfect for exploring the country (or continent). Here are some helpful tips for easy weekends away, exploring new places.


1. Go light. Pack as lightly as possible. I am sure you've already done this, just to GET to where you are. But packing even lighter for your weekend away ensures you don't crack your back, invite pickpockets in, or spend most of your time hauling luggage instead of exploring. Pack a backpack - another pair of shoes, a few undergarments, and 2 outfits. Your medicine and contacts/eyeglasses. Voila! You're done (and there's still room in your backpack for shopping).


NOT packing light

NOT packing light


2. Protect the passport. Get a neck pouch for your passport. Yes, it is doofy. Yes, it can save you countless hours of trouble if your passport gets stolen. Yes, it also holds money and your credit cards, in case your wallet gets lifted. In fact, put most of your money and credit cards in the neck pouch with your passport. No one will know.


3. Safety First. Be aware of your surroundings. Research safety in the areas in which you will travel. Know the tricks that people pull, on unsuspecting tourists.


4. Shoes. Aim to have comfy shoes for all that walking you'll be doing. Those high heels don't work so well on cobblestone streets. Your feet will thank you. And, you can walk and see more. (And yes, I love my MBTs).


5. Food. If you're staying at a B&B, ask where the local markets are. Pick up some picnic foods (baguette, cheese, wine, fruit; noodle salad, fruit, cooked meat on skewers) and find a park or beach on which to dine. MUCH better than waiting in line at a guidebook recommended restaurant, or wandering around wondering where to eat. If you're renting a home or apartment, do the same - or ask your landlord if they can recommend a  restaurant. Often, you'll be the only foreigner there, and can truly catch a glimpse into the local culture. If you're like our family, you want to explore the local grocery store, too - perfect for picking up picnic items.




Cheese shop, Seattle


6. Don't overbook. Yes, you're there in (city name here) for only 2 days. But you don't have to overbook, and see all there is to see. You might have a WHOLE weekend of unplanned time - and glory in it. Exploring the market, and then finding new friends and whiling away the afternoon at the cafe is a wonderful way to experience a city. As is walking and seeing all there is to see. Meet someone from couchsurfing for coffee. Swim in the sea, and then walk the beach until you find that tiny restaurant serving freshly caught fish. Come across a festival? Join in!


sunset on waves


7. See what YOU want to see. Love art museums? Find the small one, with all local artists. In love with wine? Head to the local wineries - and get a tour! Interested in music? Research beforehand, and head to a concert of your choice (Bach in a cathedral, or local bands). On a quest for funky street art? Find it!Walk the marina, and listen to the sounds of gear clanking. Find a castle. Play!




8. Relax. Weekends are supposed to be fun, and relaxing. Taking time away from your studies or work, is a chance to breathe freely, sleep in if you'd like, and have fun. Monday will come soon enough! Look at the small things. Enjoy the sunset.


Lake MI sunset