For me, writing is all about sharing experiences and hoping that somebody out there will be able to learn something from them. That’s why I constantly try to inspire people to travel, broaden their horizon and engage with different people from all over the world. But let me tell you; not all travel is good travel. I have most definitely had my fair share of disastrous trips, which left me frustrated, stressed and took a toll on my relationship with the people I was traveling with. Today I would like to tell you a couple of things about a city trip I once took to Rome, introduce you to the things you should NEVER do and share a few tips to insure your city break will be a success.
Don’t try to explore every last sight available. If you have been to Rome you know that Italy’s capital is without a doubt one of the most historical locations in the entire world. It is not only home to Vatican City with its impressive buildings and to numerous fountains; it also used to be the heart of the Roman Empire with its remains waiting at every corner for you to enjoy. There was no way my friend and I were going to get a close look at all Rome has to offer in only four days. Still, we tried. Our city trip turned into a sightseeing marathon with us rushing from one end of the city to the other, constantly hurrying and not enjoying it one bit. In hindsight, I can’t even properly remember the Trevi Fountain, Roman Forum and Sistine Chapel. Do yourself a favor and make a realistic plan before you end up like we did. Make sure to gain an overall impression of the city you are traveling to but try to accept that you won’t be able to see it all.
Make sure everybody has a good time. You being really good friends and generally sharing the same interests at home does not imply that your expectations are the same when it comes to traveling and getting to know new places. I love diving into a city’s hidden alleys, shopping in vintage boutiques and spending hours drinking coffee while observing its lively streets. My friend, on the other hand, is a big fan of baroque architecture and can spend hours in museums showing art from the Renaissance. That does not necessarily have to be an issue; have an open and honest conversation about what both of you expect and then make sure everybody gets their money’s worth. That may even involve you splitting up for a couple of hours and meeting up again later. Even though compromises are generally a good thing I don’t always promote them when it comes to traveling. Spending 25 Euros on a museum that basically bored me to death left me frustrated and quite frankly, a little annoyed with my friend. Why not enjoy the things you both love together and split up for a couple of hours every once in a while?
Take the time to truly experience a city. Rome is a lot more than just ancient buildings, fountains and churches. There a countless piazzas filled with Romans enjoying Italian wine and listening to street musicians, tiny and cramped family-owned pizzerias, typical Italian shops as well as the best coffee places in the world. If you don’t invest the time into soaking up the culture of a city you are visiting, you will miss the things that make every place unique and special. After running around Rome for hours we could hardly feel our feet in the evenings and just couldn’t get ourselves motivated to leave our hotel room after dinner. What a shame! Make sure you plan some downtime whenever you go on a city break to just drift through the city and actually be a part of city life.
Make sure you find accommodation near the city centre. Without a doubt it can be pretty disheartening to try to find affordable accommodation when you first start planning a trip to a city like Rome. My friend and I made the mistake of choosing comfort over location and therefore stayed in a pretty comfortable hotel which was located at least 45 minutes outside the city centre. In hindsight I would always choose a less comfortable hostel from where you can explore the city without having to take the bus for almost an hour. Staying at an accommodation with less comfort for four days will not hurt anybody!