In the recent years, we have traveled a lot. And each time, we have tried to experiment with our travel style. Personally, to me, there is nothing as appealing or as satisfying as slow travel. That’s exactly how I managed to spend an entire week in Istanbul on my solo trip. And then, we’ve also traveled fast, hoping cities and countries in a matter of a few days. While there are many downsides to fast travel like higher carbon footprint, lesser time to explore and process, it comes with a thrill of its own. Fast travel helped me experience and take notice of the similarities of histories, cultures, cuisines and people living across geographical boundaries. And then we explored another unique travel idea.
- D for Day Trips
- Parampara’s Top 5 Day Trips
D for Day Trips
One might wonder as to what is so unique about a day trip! We say, everything, it’s the approach that changes. Especially, day trips across Europe!
What are Day Trips?
On our Europe trip in 2018, we wanted to cover some off-beat, smaller destinations away from the big cities. The aim was to get away from the city life and blow off some steam from continuous travels. As soon as we observed the pattern, we were so kicked by the idea that we planned a total of 15-day trips on a 58-day trip. Since the idea was the relax a little while exploring a new destination, we picked destinations known for their scenic beauty. We also chose not to research extensively about these destinations or make a checklist. Which meant, we were to travel with minimal research and an open plan to explore the destination. The onward and return travel was scheduled for the same calendar day. Hence, we picked destinations with a travel time not exceeding 2 to 3 hours on each side.
Why do we love them?
- Day trips had us exploring off beat destinations that we would never specially include in our itinerary, like Luxembourg, San Marino, etc.
- Minimal research and absence of checklists meant we were on adventure with the only mission to explore. Some discoveries were mind boggling, some a complete miss.
- The aim was not to be thorough about a destination. Honestly, you can only be thorough about a destination after spending weeks, months or years living there. The point of day trips was just to get a feel of the destination.
- Thanks to all this, we had some really great pictures at some very gorgeous locations. And our brains got to relax, without a lot of information overload. Just memories to reminisce.
- Life outside European cities hits differently. It’s even prettier, calmer and soothing to the mind.
Tips for Day Trips
- Planning your destination: You can plan your day trips either based on the starting destination or the final destination. So, if your starting destination is Paris, you can figure a range of places that you can reach in two-three hours of travel time. If you already know that you want to take a day trip to the Neuschwanstein Castle, you must check if it is closer from Nuremburg or Münich.
- Research the route/travel timings: Research is always the key trick to great travel. However, research is especially important when planning a road trip- with regards to the route and transport options. Knowing the convenient route- including costs, travel time and obstacles makes the basic planning easier. What time to start, what time to leave from the destination, to drive or opt for public commute.
- Having a rail pass comes very handy: Taking a day trip, especially across Europe is manifold easier with a train pass in hand. This gives you the flexibility in planning your time and route to and from the destination. We’ve taken over 14-day trips thanks to the Eurail pass and absolutely swear by it for our travels.
- Avoid taking tours: When you think that you might only be visiting a destination once, you’d want to do it right. But a humble request, avoid taking tours unless you want to explore only a particular aspect of the destination. The whole point of a day trip is to skip the touristy stuff and explore without boundaries.
- Self-explore: Take a map, walk around, read briefly online, and discover the hidden gems of the location. You will go back feeling triumphant about the discovery instead of rejoicing a fully checked to-do list.
- Eat local: Walk into a local eatery, ask locals for their recommendations, look for options on Google. Eat local as much as possible to get a good feel of the destination. You might even be entertained with some local stories that’ll totally make your experience special. Except if you are in Vaduz, Liechtenstein because the food there is truly expensive.
- Ask for local recommendations: Local recommendations will be nothing like the long to-do lists in guide books. Use the translate tool, be polite, strike a conversation, and ask for help. Local recommendations will definitely show you a unique side of the destination, that you will truly enjoy.
- Don’t make a long check list of things to see/do: Traveling is not about 10 things to do, see and eat. Keep an open mind and an open plan. Find what may be of interest to you. Ask locals. Even just wander about the streets and take wrong turns. Enjoy exploring the vibe of the destination. That’s the whole point of a day trip in the first place!
- Take some trips, just because you can: Day trips help you discover destinations that you wouldn’t specially plan for. Add some nearby destinations, not because you’re fascinated but because you’re taking your chance at experiencing another country/culture/landscape. We actually explored some of the smallest European countries- Luxembourg, Liechtenstein, San Marino purely out of curiosity!
Parampara’s Top 5 Day Trips
Giethoorn: Day trip from Amsterdam, The Netherlands
We had only heard of Giethoorn as the Dutch village with no roads. The real experience was quite the wonder to reminisce. Our trip to Giethoorn was destined to be special as we ventured out on a chilly winter day. After a three-and-a-half-hour journey to Giethoorn from Amsterdam, we reached what looked like a calm deserted town. We rented a boat, one that we instantly learned to drive. The next hour was spent driving around the canals of Giethoorn, with crystal clear waters, ducks for company and pretty quaint houses to stare at along the route. We were the only tourists in Giethoorn that day. At the end of the day, we were so calmed by the town that we almost wanted to stay back and settle in Giethoorn.
Brüges: Day trip from Brussels, Belgium
The excitement levels for Brüges were already high owing to the medieval vibes of the town seen in pictures. But actually, taking a day trip to Brüges hit differently. It felt as if we were in a fairy tale town with many little things to appreciate. Although, a little too touristy for European winters, Brüges was such a memorable destination to explore!
Luxembourg: Day trip from Paris, France
Skipping a day in Paris and heading to Luxembourg was quite the wild idea at first. But it was an idea that we were extremely excited about. We got on an early morning train from Paris and found ourselves in Luxembourg within a couple of hours. The beauty of exploring Luxembourg lay in the fact that we knew very little about the country and spent more time wandering about and stumbling into scenic spots instead of planning a touristy trail.
Positano: Day trip from Naples, Italy
We had so many things on our to-do list in Italy and such little time. Therefore, we prioritized and decided to get a taste of Italy. After spending a couple of days in Naples to explore the origin of the Margherita pizza, we took a day trip to Positano. However, our trip was nothing like the luxury Positano travel pictures on the internet. We took a train to Sorrento and a bus there on. We hiked, spent some time at the beach and walked back a little, only to rent an electric car. After all, driving around the scenic beauty of Positano and Amalfi Coast topped our list. The driving may not have been the greatest experience, but the company and the scenic views were worth every single dime.
I’d happily go back to Positano and Amalfi Coast, just to spend a little more time there.
Toledo: Day trip from Madrid, Spain
On our second trip to Spain, we decided to take a quick day trip from Madrid to Toledo. We took this trip on our last day in Spain on that trip; and we were almost on the verge of cancelling this trip out of sheer laziness. I am so glad that we pushed ourselves to go for it. Toledo was such a beautiful experience.
If you have to give a day, give it to adventure, to wander, to explore and to go about without a plan for a change. Make way for day trips, it’s probably the best investment of a single day of your life!
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