Ahh Paris, you can see all that’s interesting to see in 3 days, and that includes the Mona Lisa. Rome next? 4 days is honestly enough, no need to stay longer. What about London? 2 days on a hop and off bus will get you everywhere you need to see, including Buckingham Palace.
Now, I want you to forget about everything you just read and hear me out. There are countless travel book writers and bloggers that share their thoughts on how long you should stay in any given place. They will share their thoughts on what you should see, where you should venture out to, and what you shouldn’t waste your time with. Everyone has an opinion.
In some ways you could say I have an opinion on this subject too. However, what differs in mine, is that I want to help guide you to think for yourself and to decide for yourself how long you should stay in any new place. Advice from seasoned travelers or first-time newbies can always serve as a great guide, but in the end, it will always be about you and learning what works best for you. You can choose to hurry through every place you visit, or you can choose a different way…
The process of finding yourself while traveling always starts with the gift of time you give yourself in a new place. Taking your time to not only discover your surroundings and so much more!
I want to share a secret that you may already know about. One day, two days, three days or four will never be enough time to discover a new city. In the past 25 years I have visited many countries. Many of those visits were sadly only 3 days. Why 3 days only? Because I would always take the suggestion of travel writers and even friends. Even though I always had a mind of my own, I equally took the advice of others who I always assumed knew better. After all, they were the ones with the experience, right? But I forgot to remind myself that they weren’t me and I wasn’t them.
With that being said, some years ago I decided to make a change in how I traveled. How I took my vacation time was about to change. Everything from where I would travel to, what I would see, how I would see it, and how long I would choose to stay at my destination. This change began to affect me as a person in so many aspects that I can’t begin to describe in this post. I knew I was on to something.
Often times it’s easy to get caught up in what everyone else thinks you should see and do. The hard part is learning to only care about what you want to do and enjoy. Well…not completely. We should always be mindful of others who we choose to go on travel with. Finding the balance between what your travel companion wants to see and what you want to see is sometimes the hard part.
Learning to find a balance in how you spend your time is crucial for the outcome you want to have from the trip. After all, you don’t want to return from a trip and have regrets on why you didn’t take the initiative to go see something you really wanted to see.
Learning to have alone time in a new city, even if it’s only for a day, can expose your mind to new emotions and experiences that you would never otherwise have while in the company of a companion. Trust me, this is true even if you and your companion share the same interests while traveling.
This brings me back to the minimum length of time I think every traveler should take in any new city they are traveling to. 5 nights. That is the minimum time it takes to soak in your new environment. To soak in its beautiful culture, taste the flavors of the cuisine and meet the locals. Everything that makes a city special is often missed when a traveler is hurrying through and overlooking the details. Details of the buildings, the shops, the museums, the statues, the smells, the air, and most importantly the uniqueness of the people. Why do people live in this city? How did this city come about hundreds if not thousands of years ago? What makes this city so special, where thousands, if not millions decent upon it day after day?
Be a tourist because something called out to you and demanded your time away in order to visit a new place.
It’s not your goal to learn everything or see everything in a new city, because that is not the point. However, the time you took away from your daily life in order to visit this foreign city means something or else why go? Why spend the resources to even go? Most importantly, giving enough time to a new city is the gift you can give yourself. I can’t tell you how often I see travelers rush through. Rushing through museums, parks, streets, markets, stores and more! Rush no more! Stop rushing. When you have 5 nights in a new city, the amount of knowledge you soak in is indefinite.
Even when you find a city boring on your first day and decide its only worth a 3-day visit, you may be mistaken. It is true when they say beauty is in the eye of the beholder. What I find beautiful in a city, may not be what you find beautiful. But I guarantee you, if you are a true explorer, you’ll know what I am referring to. Find the time to give it a chance. Give yourself the gift of time. Try it out and let me know what you think? I’d love to know.