Whilst writing my recent blog about our stop over in Hong Kong I realised I had quite a few top tips for stop overs in general. So, if you have a long haul holiday coming up, why not consider breaking up the journey and exploring a different destination for a few days? Here’s my top tips to help you maximise your time!
Consider whether to stop over at the beginning or end your main itinerary. I’ve always favoured having a stop over at the start of a trip. Exploring a city serves as a good way to start unwinding from the pressures of work and life and acclimatise into holiday mode. After a few days soaking in sights and culture, I’m ready for some more relaxed holiday time and feel less guilty about taking it easier!
Be realistic when allocating the number of days to explore your stop over location. You want to make sure it’s long enough to make it worthwhile but not so rushed you don’t end up seeing much of anything! We decided on four nights in Hong Kong which gave us three full days to explore. This meant we didn’t feel under pressure to see it all but managed to squeeze a fair amount in as well as adjust to the time difference.
Prioritise accommodation location. Wherever you decide to stop off, if you’re only there for a couple of days then you’ll want to make the most of the time rather than spend ages getting to and from places of interest. So, make sure you do a bit of research on the key places you want to visit beforehand and tie this in when choosing your base. If you don’t want to stay right by the main attractions, make sure you factor in the best transport links to reach them and the main transport hubs into and out of the city.
Research possible travel and attraction deals. Many cities offer 24/48 hour travelcards at a preferential price alongside options to pay for a bundle ticket for key attractions. This can remove some of the faff of sorting out individual tickets, allowing you more time to explore and make the most of your time. However, be realistic about how often you’re really likely to use the mode of transport and how many of the attractions you actually want / have time to visit. Make sure you’re actually getting a bargain!
Account for different packing needs. Consider the climate and temperature carefully as this will need to influence packing decisions. Your inbound and outbound destinations may be very different in this respect so make sure you’re prepared. If in doubt, pack layers and you shouldn’t come too unstuck!!!
Note: if you’re planning on doing lots of shopping on your stop over, remember you’ll need to adhere to the baggage restrictions of your onward trip or remember to factor in excess baggage costs accordingly for your way home.
Bring comfortable footwear. And don’t forget a supply of plasters and the like, which can be more difficult to source abroad! You’re likely to be doing a lot of walking during your stop over compared to the next leg of your trip, especially if you are beach-bound. Make sure your shoes are properly worn in to avoid blisters as much as possible before you switch to your flip flops!
Keep your whit’s about you. Staying in a place for just a few days doesn’t always allow you the chance to properly determine the dos and don’ts of that location and what to watch out for. As with any new destination, be mindful of what bags you take out and about with you as you will likely stand out as a tourist and be more prone to pickpockets. We tend to use a rucksack for non-valuable items such as water, snacks and our guide book and then I will usually have a crossover body bag for cash and keys.
Take a currency card. With cash being used less and less, plastic is the way forward, especially when you’re visiting more than one country. Save yourself the trouble of exchanging multiple currencies and opt for a currency card that you can load with your own currency and spend anywhere in the world. Not only do you avoid extra currency conversion fees compared to using your regular debit or credit card, you typically get better rates.
What top tips would you add to the list from your stop over experiences?