When I am heading to a destination where there are many attractions that are within driving or public transport distance as a day trip, I am always faced with the decision whether staying in one place versus moving around is a better choice.
For example, I will be visiting the South of France, and I know that I want to visit several beach towns along the coast, as well as Aix en Provence and some additional close by inland villages. What I need to consider is if I prefer to stay in one place, maybe somewhere central coast, and day trip each day to a different locale. Or do I want to move around every few days?
Considerations of Staying in One Place Versus Moving Around
Each time you travel, the situation is unique and will need to be reassessed. Some factors are who is traveling with you and how much time you have. Initial considerations to decide if it is best to stay in one place versus moving around:
- Are you traveling with children? If so, it can be difficult to pack up for so many people several times. It also may be more difficult for a child to adjust to so many different beds.
- Do you have your own private vehicle (rented, owned, or chauffeured)? Moving around may be easier if you have a personal vehicle. It allows you to store luggage. It also permits you to be on your own time schedule. The downsides may be parking, night driving, and the inability to just relax and enjoy the scenery. If you are responsible for the driving, you need to be alert and undistracted.
- Is transportation readily available at appropriate times for day tripping? For example, there may be a train from one town to another only one time per day in the evening. This would not allow you to arrive at a time when much is open. Or perhaps there is not a return trip the same day, which would leave you stuck.
- Is the transportation that is available conducive to having luggage? Getting on and off trains, or having to walk long distances with your luggage may not be ideal. Only having to deal with your luggage twice, when you first arrive and when you ultimately depart, may be appealing.
- Will you have sufficient time for all that you want to see if you only have the day? Some cities require more than just a few hours, unless you are very well planned, or are okay with just seeing the highlights. If you have decided to stay in one locale, are you willing to revisit a place on multiple day trips if you feel your visit was incomplete?
- Are the places you’d like to visit really close enough to day trip? If it takes you a substantial amount of time to arrive to each day trip destination, and equal time to return, will you be too tired or feel rushed?
- Is the destination high in auto traffic or are train or boat seats sold out way in advance? Traffic can make a short trip take much longer, losing hours of your day. Oversold transportation seats can make it difficult or expensive to day trip on a whim. However, planning ahead for your day trips, and how you will arrive to them, will help resolve these issues. While planning does generally guarantee your itinerary, it takes some of the flexibility away.
Once you have considered the preliminary practical considerations, then you may want to further weigh out the advantages and disadvantages to staying in one place versus moving around.
Advantages of Staying in One Place Versus Moving Around
Some reasons to stay in one place are obvious, but sometimes when planning, what seems good on paper doesn’t actually translate to real life. Some advantages to staying in one place are:
- The ability to settle into your accommodation, unpack, and get organized.
- It is definitely more relaxing to not have to gather your things and pack every day or two, and then to unpack again in another location.
- Establishing a “home base” where you may make friends, or at least get to know some of the staff, or local townspeople is nice.
- Finding your favorite goto restaurants, shops, grocery stores, sunset viewing points, and local bars and knowing where they are, and what to expect, after a long day touring or sunbathing, helps relaxation.
- You may get a price deal for a prolonged stay
- On your down days, meaning the days you decide to stay local, you are already settled in. You can take your time, sleep in, and explore your base at leisure.
- You can definitely get to know a place better by staying longer.
- Day trips are easy when you do not have luggage with you. You do not have to worry about storing it until your room is ready, or after you check out.
Advantages to Moving Around Versus Staying in One Place
- By moving around, you get to experience several different accommodations. This works out especially well if you do not end up loving a place you are staying. Then, you know you will be moving in a few days. Changing accommodations may feel more exciting. It mixes things up a bit.
- By mapping a route, you can be constantly exploring and not backtracking. This makes the best use of your time.
- You will save time by not having to do a round trip transfer each day.
- I find that I really click with some places more than others. By having your luggage with you, you have the ability to be flexible. You may arrive somewhere that you only planned on spending a few hours or a day, but you just love it and want to stay.
- On the flip side, you may discover that you tour an area faster than planned, or it is just not what you expected. You have the flexibility to locate your next destination and move on.
- Moving around allows for you to do spontaneous travel. Perhaps you know that you really want to visit two cities that are a few hours apart and you have a few days. You could choose to stay a few nights in the first city, or maybe you will discover a destination that looks interesting between the two and decide to explore there for a night or two.
- There are always those times when you meet other travelers who tell you about a place that sounds amazing. You hadn’t heard of it before, but now you definitely want to alter your plan to go. This is much easier when you are not tied to one base and when your belongings are nearby.
- Each place has a different tone in the evening compared to the daytime. Day trippers often miss an aspect of a place by not spending the night. For example, many cool locations can be overrun with tourists during the day, but after the sun sets, and many people leave, you have the place all to yourself.
- A location may offer different activities or events in the evening than during the day. For example, the amphitheater in Taormina has tours of the archeological site by day, but hosts amazing concerts many nights.
- The perspective of a place may change in the evening. Swimming and hanging out in the sand near the base of Stromboli made for a great beach day. Sitting at a table nearby, sipping drinks and watching the red flares of the volcano, lighting up the night sky was incredible.
- Day trips may impose time constraints, like having to catch a train back, or not wanting to drive after dark. If you are actually staying overnight, you have more freedom to wing it.
- Another advantage to moving around is that generally your accommodation will be in the near vicinity. There are times when it is nice to be able to easily return to your room. So, if it gets extremely hot from 12 noon to 3PM, it is easy to go back to your room for a swim, or a siesta. Once it cools down, you can head back out.
While it appears that there are more reasons to move around than to choose a single base from which to explore, there is no doubt that staying in one place offers deeper relaxation. There is no right or wrong. It is about being clear on your own expectations and needs.
If you do stay in one place and feel tired, you can always just skip a planned day trip and enjoy where you are. For me, this is why it is so important that if I do choose to stay in one place, that I research the accommodation, as well as the area. If I’m going to be staying somewhere for a prolonged time, I want to be sure I like it. I want to know that there will be amenities, things to do, and great places to eat nearby.