I love a good day out and having London as a base means being spoilt for choice—my first couple of visits to Paris even saw me go to France and back within 12 hours! So, of course, I have a few simple tricks up my sleeve for how to plan a day trip. Let’s go!
1. Shortlist some options
You never know when the sun will shine, particularly in the UK. With that in mind keep list of potential places for day trips so if the mood (and the weather) strikes you don’t waste half the day trying to pick somewhere to go—just select somewhere from your already carefully curated shortlist.
2. Calculate travel time
If your trip has come about somewhat spontaneously, it’s not the best idea to go somewhere that’ll take a long time to get to.
For example, we only decided to visit historic Rochester in Kent at 10.30am on the day. Ordinarily it would’ve been too late to go, however we knew our door-to-door journey was just an hour and Rochester is a small city that wouldn’t need a full day to explore. So off we went.
If you’re planning on going somewhere further afield you’ll need to settle on where you’re going (at least) the day before so you can set an alarm and get up early.
3. Decide a destination—in advance if you can
Train travel in the UK is weirdly expensive but some routes cost the same whether you book as far in advance as possible i.e. 12 weeks prior to travel, or just before boarding. In my experience this includes trains from London to Rochester, Winchester (on our list for this summer) and Windsor. Oh and do ALWAYS buy train tickets before you board or you really will be ripped off.
At the weekend and on Bank Holidays you can buy a Super Off-Peak ticket which is basically as cheap as it’s going to get. We also have a Two Together railcard which means we get 1/3 off journeys we take together, which doesn’t hurt.
4. Prep your tech
Before you head off, you’ll need to charge your phone so you’re ready for all that ‘gramming you’ll be doing. I go as far as to set my iPhone to ‘Low power mode’ the second I unplug it—you can do this under Settings > Battery.
Some trains in the UK have plug sockets for devices but it’s hard to know before you board and I’d rather be fully-powered than sorry. Consider taking your charger and definitely pack headphones to drown out any crying babies or rowdy lads on your train.
If you’re also taking a camera, pack a spare battery and for goodness sake make sure it’s charged. Don’t forget to check your memory card is in your camera (I’ve left mine stuck in my MacBook before, a terrible realisation) and, if you’ve transferred all existing images to your computer, I’d recommend formatting it so you can get snap happy without worrying about space.
5. Do your research
Once you’ve settled on where you’re going, use the travel time to look into things to do and places to eat once you get there. Blogs are always a fantastic source of suggestions, obviously, and good old TripAdvisor is usually right. I often tweet a little call-out for tips from the locals too.
I hope these suggestions come in useful for your day trip planning! Are you in need of some ideas for where to visit? Check out my quick day trip guides!