Continuing with the travel theme for the A to Z Challenge, Q is for Queues (ah, alliteration). Queues (or lines) are one of the worst parts of travel. No one wants to wait in queues, but everyone wants to see that famous statue, or ride the teacups, or make their first shrine visit – and so they queue up.
Therefore, I have dedicated this post to Avoiding Queues. These are some tips I researched, and during my research I found that the most common “how to avoid queues” hits were for avoiding queues at Disneyland. The second-most popular hits were for avoiding queues in Rome.
So, without further ado, let’s look at some tips to avoid queues when traveling!
1. Find Out the Busiest Time – and Don’t Go!
You want to see the Christmas lights at Disneyland on Christmas Day, visit the Vatican at Easter, and visit Meiji Shrine on New Year’s Day? So does everyone else! It’s better to find the “off season” for famous locales, or to go when most local people are at work or school. Famous places in Rome may be consistently busy, but you can still avoid the huge queues by researching online the least busy times.
If you absolutely must go during a busy season or a holiday, then try going earlier than the main crowds, even if you must get up early. Many people don’t want to wake up early while on vacation, so if you wake up earlier then you might be able to get ahead of the crowds.
2. Schedule a Tour
If you don’t mind hanging out with people you don’t know, you could schedule a tour to hit up the most popular sights of a city. The pros of a tour are that you don’t have to do the planning, often rooms will be booked for you, and transportation will be provided. This can save you the stress of travel planning, and on private tours you may be able to avoid a lot of the queues that individuals have to wait in.
Of course, the cons are that you can’t pick your itinerary (or you only have limited choices), you have to hang out with people you don’t know, and tours can be expensive. But it can reduce a lot of stress and waiting time! If you’re at a theme park, you can look for ticket passes with fast passes to skip queues, or behind-the-scenes tours. These are pricier, but you can have a tailored experience.
3. Buy Tickets Online
I think one of the most common suggestions for touring Rome, Barcelona, or other European cities is to buy tickets online. Some can be bought for a specific date, while some have an expiration X days from purchase. Make sure to check the specific ticket for use details before you buy it or book your trip! Many can be used straight from your smart phone or printed out.
While some tickets have service charges for advanced tickets, other tickets offer a discount when purchased in advance online. Buying tickets requires more advance planning, especially if the tickets are for a specific date, but avoiding queues can be well worth the planning. This offers a nice alternative to tour packages, since you can plan your personal itinerary.
4. Skip the Events
Whether you’re at Disneyland during the Christmas parade, Meiji Shrine during the New Year sumo entrance, or at the queue for Notre Dame, you can often find smaller queues when an event is happening. During a big event, go to wherever the large crowd is not, and you may be able to get through without waiting in a long queue.
This means you have to sacrifice watching the event, so make sure that the event is not something that you absolutely need to see to feel that your life is complete. But if you really don’t need to see the parade for the umpteenth time, then you can get in some extra rides on the Matterhorn queue-free.
What are your travel tips to avoid long queues? What was your longest queue experience? Let me know in the comments!