Balance Your Itinerary

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When you’re planning what to see on your travels, try to balance your itinerary and maybe use a trip planner. When you’re in cities, you want to see museums and churches, but mix it up with outdoor activities and fun things.

There is a long list of cities in Europe that have an abundance of museums and churches. Cities like Rome, Florence, London, Paris, Berlin, Madrid… In any one of those cities and others, you could spend all of your time inside looking at “important” art, but you’ll be better off if you balance your itinerary with a walk in the park, window shopping or prowling through flea markets.

Don’t get me wrong. Those museums and some of the churches are full of masterpieces that just shouldn’t be missed, but I think you will appreciate each of those masterpieces more if you are looking at them with a fresh eye.

I’ve found that if I spend too long in museums, after about two hours… three max… my brain goes on sensory overload…. I can easily find myself wandering past a great work of art and thinking to myself, “Wow, there’s another Rembrandt…” all the while stifling a yawn!

That’s when it’s time to get out of the museum and take a walk in the park. I loved seeing the art in the Prado in Madrid, but I also really enjoyed escaping just around the corner to the Retiro Park. We got tapas and a glass of wine and watched the locals stroll by on their evening “paseo”. The art was great… but the paseo, THAT was Spain.

If you’ve paid a lot for that museum admission, you might find it hard to leave after only a couple of hours. That’s when museum cards might work to your advantage. With the Paris Museum Card, for instance, you can go in and out of the Louvre or the Museu d’Orsay at any time for the 3, 5 or 7 days that your card is valid. The Mona Lisa might just look better after lunch and a glass of wine by the Seine and a stroll past the book sellers.

My sister planned a great trip to Italy with friends. Italy is one of her favorite countries, and she wanted to show them all the best sights. She didn’t want them to miss anything, so she had visits to churches and museums packed in.

The walks from one venue to the next were their only outside activities until her friends finally told her, “Too many Duomos! Can’t we just sit in a piazza and have a glass of wine?”

If you’re driving in the countryside, don’t plan long, all day drives. Drive for a couple of hours, then stop and explore a small town. That’s really easy to do in Europe. Distances are greater in the U.S., but you can still find places to stop and have fun.

Balance your itinerary on active vacations too. If you’re hiking or trekking, leave time in the afternoon to stop and watch the birds or just enjoy the wild areas around you.

Traveling at a frenzied pace, trying to get it all in takes some of the fun and pleasure out of traveling. Balance your itinerary, and you’ll have a great trip.