Sure, you’re going to spend the bulk of the time exploring the city where you’re staying, but think bigger, expand your traveling perimeters.
We all know travel is about exploring, discovering the unexpected and day trips, well, day trips help make this happen. Using a tour company may be the easy button, but it comes with some limitations. For us, it’s the limitation of our travel dollars.
We definitely travel on a budget and sometimes those tours can be pricy. Instead, we use public transportation as much as possible. Here’s what works for us.
Ten Travel Tips for Day Tripping in Europe
#1 Home Base Location
Once you know your travel destination, checkout other towns or cities close by that would make for easy day trips.
For our trip to France in 2019, we picked Antibes as our destination. It was in a perfect location; close to the city of Nice where we would be flying in to, and there were a slew of other towns such as Cannes, Monaco, and Menton nearby for easy day trips.
#2 Figure Out Public Transportation Options
Find out if train and bus services are available where you’re staying. Use the Trainline app to type in your location and the location for your day trip. The app lets you know if train or bus service is a possibility, the cost, train times, and a live tracker.
We have yet to rent a car when we travel, opting instead to relax, ride the rails, and enjoy a bottle of wine at lunch. Salut.
#3 It’s All About Location
If you are going to use the trains or buses for day trips, be strategic. Before booking your hotel or VRBO apartment, check where the nearest train station is located, make sure it’s walking distance. It also helps to scan apartment reviews on VRBO for any mention of transportation.
#4 Find Out Where the Good Stuff is Happening
Some easy ways to find great day trip ideas include searching the internet, talking to locals, and flip through tour books. If you’re staying at an apartment, read the entries from previous guests.
#5 Check for Travel Discounts
When you’re at the train station, visit the ticket. Depending on how long you’re staying, there may be discounts available to save you money. While in Antibes, for thirty euros, we purchased a train pass good for half price tickets the entire month.
* Also, for day trips, it’s easier and less stressful to purchase round trip tickets. This way you’ve taking care of all the transportation details for the day.
#6 Dress for the Day
Be strategic with what you wear. Check the weather and dress in layers. Also, now is not the time to break in new shoes or haul around bulky purses. A pair of Birkenstocks and a tiny crossbody purse work for me. I also try to bring along a cotton shopping bag. The bag makes it easy to carry any purchases we make.
#7 Use Street Smarts on Public Transportation
Twice we witnessed teenage girls trying to reach inside women’s purses by creating a commotion to distract passengers. Keep this in mind when you’re on a train or bus and be prepared. If you usually carry your wallet in your back pocket, move it to the front. If you have a purse, don’t let it hang behind you; move it to the front with the flap facing your body.
Instead of carrying a wallet or purse, using a money belt is another option. I tried one, but I looked a bit odd digging around in the front of my pants for money. It’s really whatever works for you. Just use common sense.
#8 Check out the Tourism Office
Stop by the tourism office for a few more ideas and suggestions; you’ll find a wealth of resources there. During our trip to Sarlat, we visited the Marqueyssac Gardens, one of the most spectacular places ever, thanks to a brochure we saw at the tourism office.
#9 Be Flexible
Be willing to change plans if opportunity presents itself. For example, if you fall in love with a place and don’t want to feel rushed, be spontaneous; consider doing an overnight.
If you take daily medications, bring your meds with you, just in case!
#10 Press the Easy Button
Sometimes there are going to be day trips that aren’t accessible by public transportation or are way too complicated to manage. That’s when it’s time to press the easy button and book a tour. If you use a local company, your travel dollars are going directly to the community as well.
We ended up booking a tour to Sintra and the Pena Palace; it wasn’t worth the effort figuring out all the transportation details for the trip. Same thing happened in London; we used a local bus company to tour Bath, Stonehenge, and Windsor Palace.
Hopefully, for your next adventure, whenever that may be, these tips will help you, too.