Sunday, May 19, 2019

Travel Wisdom – Weekend Trips and how to plan

By Hamza Shafique (Instagram / Facebook)

Instagram is full of travel bloggers with perfect beach bodies telling their audience in perfect written quotes that you live only once and life is short, so enjoy the max possible. What no one tells is that Life is short and budgets are even shorter. Story of every middle class, corporate slave, Desi travel enthusiast like me. I guess we all have seen ‘Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani’, where Ranbir Kapoor, to pursue his passion for traveling has to detached himself from his world (friends/ family) and responsibilities to an extent that he finds out 2 weeks late about his father’s demise, and that’s kind a true for our world. If you immerse yourself into Desi world as a responsible adult following the fixed path that most of us follow, you will always have millions of responsibilities and priorities unless you are an Ambani or Zardari. As a result, you will always be short of time and if you manage to find some time to travel then budget constraints will always be there.

I have found a solution for this, which works, at least for me and that is "weekend trips". Instead of planning a full fledge trip that spans over weeks just plan a quick getaway manageable with in available weekend, so you can save your annual leave for the important family events that you may need to attend throughout the year and being in Dubai gives us this amazing opportunity of budget travels with amazing weekend offers, easy on pocket as well.

This year I travelled to Turkey for 2 nights cost 1200 Dirhams (flight and hotel only), 3 nights to Georgia cost 1099 Dirhams (flight and hotel only) and without having this facility of weekend getaways I would have never been able to travel to these two amazing places in the first 3 months of 2019.

My major concern is always how to cover a country having thousands of years of history and hundreds of touristic sites in just 3 days and for that I have developed a simple five step planning process which ensures I see/ experience most of what that country has to offer in whatever time/resources I have. Here it is.

Weekend trip to Istanbul Jan 2019

Primary Attraction: Every country that focuses on tourism has a primary attraction like in Cairo it was Pyramids, in Istanbul it was Hagia Sophia and in Nepal it was their preserved Darbar Squares with centuries old temples. So that is what you should have first thing in the itinerary and that should be the easiest decision to be made here. I mean your Instagram demands you to post a picture in front of Pyramids when in Cairo, don’t deny your followers the charm of you living your life to the max.

Weekend trip to Tbilisi March 2019

Categorize: Once the primary attraction is selected, now its time to categorize all the remaining attractions in to groups, lets take the example of my recent trip to Tbilisi Georgia, so I came up with top 4 categories as follows, Forts/Churches, City Outing, Museums and Road trips. you could name your categories anything, saying this because people like me “with being perfect syndrome” need to chill and focus on the purpose rather wasting time on naming the categories. Once you have listed all attractions into groups, now it’s time to get on trip advisor and read reviews. Based on the reviews you can eliminate similar attractions and select only one from the lot that you find feasible. For example, in Georgia there are a lot of Forts and Churches, so we selected the one which we liked, for example we just went inside Ananauri Fort and skipped going in Narikala Fort etc. Similarly, in Cairo I just went to Ibn Tulun Mosque and skipped rest of the Mosques and again in Istanbul just went to Main Mosque as I got the basic idea of the design with big dome and a chandelier which was similar in all other mosques. It’s simple, list all places into groups, read reviews, pick one that you find more feasible and save time.

Weekend trip to New York July 2011

National Museum: Museums are the best portals to peek into a country’s soul. I am a bit biased toward museums. A well-organized, informative and presented museum is my heaven. So where ever I go I try to find interesting museums and on top of that a national museum usually covers the entire country from interesting elements it has to offer. That is why always have one museum as well in your trip.

Weekend trip to Karachi May 2018

Something New: While planning always consider what new from experience perspective that you can do. For example, I have never experienced snow before so when I was planning for Georgia I kept a day just to experience Snow. From my perspective every country has something new to offer, you just have to look what is available and what you can actually do. For example, for me skydiving is a no no but scuba dive is a yes yes.

Weekend trip to Los Angeles April 2019

Trip Path: So once you have all your things to do and see are sorted and listed, you must then put them on a map and draw the best possible scenario/path to visit each element so that you can utilize your time in the most effective manner possible and make most of the limited time you have in the country. Another thing that can help here is getting a hotel in the middle of the path identified so your accommodation shouldn’t be an issue but a convenience.

Weekend trip to Chitwan National Park Nepal Dec 2014

I really benefited from this simple way of planning and it really helped me to make the most of my time. I will suggest it to any one planning for a weekend trip where time and money both are limited.

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