4 Easy Steps to Plan the Ultimate City Break
Moving to Europe opened my eyes to the magic of the city break. I love a city break because a few days, I’ve found, is all you really need to explore somewhere new. City breaks are an affordable and efficient way to see somewhere new, or even visit an old favorite. Even a few days away can do you so good, and I actually much prefer a few city breaks throughout the year over one big holiday. Before we get into this though I want to flag that I live close to an international airport which allows me to fly to destinations in Europe very easily, and usually cheaply. I get this is not the case for everyone. That said, here is how I plan a city break!
STEP ONE: TAKING TIME OFF
Before you can book anything, you’ll need to decide what days you can take off. Everyone has a different schedule and flexibility, so this will be dependent on your own situation. P works for himself, so he is extremely flexible while I have to check my office calendar before we can book. That said, I thankfully work somewhere that isn’t too strict about when I take time off so together, we can pretty much take time off whenever suits us. If you have kids in school or a job that isn’t as lenient then this part may be a little bit more difficult for you. I get a decent amount of annual leave, days in lieu if I work weekends, and Ireland has plenty of bank holidays so time off isn’t too hard to come by (thankfully!). My biggest piece of advice would be to try and scatter your days off throughout the year working around the days you will get off from work anyway to maximize your time off and to have more trips to look forward to throughout the year.
STEP TWO: BOOKING FLIGHTS
Once you have figured out your days, it is time to book flights. I always book flights before accommodation because accommodation will always be easy to find, but flights will not be. I am a bit spastic when it comes to booking flights and I do not have some big secret on how to get the best deal. I do like to use Hopper to help find deals, but I never purchase the flights through the app because I am cheap and don’t want to pay the fees the app charges. If the app finds a good deal I head to the website of the airline and purchase directly from there. Usually though I just go directly to websites of airlines I like and see what they have on offer on the days, or around the days we have chosen to go. If you want to save some money on flights don’t pay to choose your seat and don’t pay to check your bag. You’re only going on a city-break, so a cabin-bag should do you, unless you’re a fashion blogger which I clearly am not!
STEP THREE: BOOKING ACCOMMODATION
I would encourage you to always have a budget for your overall trip, but especially for when it comes to accommodation. Whatever website you choose to book your accommodation (Booking.com, AIRBNB, Tablet, etc.), after filling in the dates you are looking for, use the budget filter! This way you will only see results that are within your budget. I pretty much exclusively book accommodation through Booking.com and they have so many filters that make it easy to make sure you get exactly what you are looking for. Keeping it real, I always click €0-€50 per night and €50-€100 per night. Personally, I don’t like spending much on accommodation because the whole point of a city break is to see a city so realistically, I won’t be spending much time in the room. Obviously, I only book places I feel are safe. Do not risk your safety for the sake of a few dollars! Once you pick somewhere that looks good, read reviews on TripAdvisor to see what people who have stayed there have to say. This makes or breaks if I book somewhere in the end.
STEP FOUR: BEFORE YOU GO
Now that all the practical bits are taken care of you need to decide what to do/eat/drink when you’re at your destination! Start asking friends, family, coworkers, and your online communities for recommendations if they have visited your chosen location. If you have any favorite travel websites or travel bloggers, head to these sites to see what they got up to when they were there. I love to make a day by day itinerary that is full of the main attractions, a few off the path places and eat as much local cuisine as I can. You might be more of a go-with-the-flow kind of traveler. In the end it is all about what works best for you and what is important for you to see.