You didn’t go on vacation to stand around in line, did you? But getting around places and into attractions always seems to involve this tedious task. Here are a few ways to cut the wait time down.
Work ahead: Whether it’s buying tickets online for, say, Alcatraz or the Empire State Building or even checking in for your flight online, planning ahead will save you time. Of course, you lose a little spontaneity, but then there’s nothing exactly spontaneous in long check in lines or queuing for an hour to get into the Louvre.
Use concierge services: Don’t be embarrassed about using the concierge in your hotel – even if you know where you’re going, they can save time by showing you the way to go or making reservations. And don’t be embarrassed about asking for cheap stuff, either – one of the best concierges I’ve met was a guy at the Ritz Carlton on New Orleans, who advised me where to find the best burrito for under $7.
Take a tour: Tours have a bad rap but they do have some advantages. By signing up for a group tour, not only will it get you to the places, or exhibits, you need to see, quicker (and, hopefully, more informed), but it can also help you skip the queue. Case in point: the queues for the Colosseum in Rome are legendary, but tour guides comb the lines offering to end your misery if you join them. You pay a few Euros more, but it’s worth it for the time you save, and they’re incredibly informative as well. Perfect!
Work around peak times: Whether it’s the busiest city or the most “touristy” site, every place has a rhythm. Generally speaking, the earlier you get to a tourist site, the better – the busloads tend to arrive around mid-morning. And on a city break, obviously, avoid rush hour. Lunchtime’s a good time for sightseeing in either place.
Get passes – even if they cost a bit more: It’s always a nuisance weighing up whether it’s worth buying a pass for transport or museums. True, sometimes it ends up a bit more expensive to buy a pass than individual tickets, but for time-saving purposes, they can be a godsend. The city passes for Paris, New York and Amsterdam, for example, allow you to skip queues at some of the main sights, which, in some cases, could actually save hours over a long weekend.
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