Lonely Planet Writer

Travel debate: early rising vs taking it easy

When it comes to travelling, how do you roll (out of bed)? Are you up with the sparrows or are you blearily summoning room service coffee at 11:30am? We decided to debate it:

Early risers vs taking it easy

In the 'Sleep in! You’re on holiday for goodness sakes.' corner we have Lonely Planet intern, Courtney:

When I first saw the subject of this debate, I thought it was a bit of an 'it depends on the trip' question. Like if you’re covering England, France, Italy and Spain in two weeks, you have to get up early and go, but if you're headed to Kauai for two weeks, you can sleep in as much as you please.

The thing is, though, a holiday is a holiday no matter where you go. If you get up early and jam pack your days on that European vacation, you'll fly home looking completely ragged, like you actually spent the two weeks in prison instead of on a glorious European vacation! And that doesn’t sound like much of a holiday at all, does it?

If you are a full-time worker, as so many of us are, it hardly seems fair to go on holiday only to wake up at 7:00am to start your day (unless you have to meet for a day tour or something). Because, guess what? You do that at home already...every day, to go to work. It doesn’t matter where you're travelling, you deserve to take it easy and sleep in!

Those for waking up early may argue that getting up a bit later will take away from the trip. This is just the early riser's excuse for poor planning. The key is to give yourself enough time to go where you want to go. The 'four countries in two weeks' scenario is hardly a realistic time-to-place ratio. Two countries in two weeks is a much more reasonable time frame. You'll still get to hit all the sights you want to because you planned and gave yourself plenty of time.

When you're on holiday, give yourself a break. Plan ahead and sleep in.

And arguing for the 'up and at 'em' approach, we have UK travel editor, Tom Hall:

Last week I explored Hagia Sophia, Istanbul's magnificent basilica-turned-mosque, in blissful isolation. Then, with only morning songbirds for company I walked out to Seraglio Point, where the Sea of Marmara beats the Golden Horn, and had a Turkish Coffee in the morning sunshine. That done, I walked into the National Archaeological Museum, without queueing, and took in a few galleries. You could have too, but not if you were still in bed.

Travel is best when you get up early. I've lost count of the number of times friends have been astonished by how much I've done in a day or a weekend. There is no mystery. Get up early and do more. If you're a night-owl you can sleep in the dead-dog late afternoon hours when locals will be too, then hit the town. Slumber in bed and you'll find that the best of the exploring time is gone and there'll only be an apologetic half-cracked boiled egg and some soggy cereal left over.

Sometimes there's no choice. Buses and trains that roll out worldwide for daytime travel complete their journeys in daytime, offering the most bang for your buck in terms of views. Night buses, frankly, are for barbarians, and sleeper trains are mainly good because they deliver you to your final destination nice and early.

I could go on but it's getting late and I'm a bit sleepy. I've a big day ahead tomorrow. Shouldn't you?


Courtney: I can fit in everything if I wake up at 10! I've done it before! Here’s my hypothetical day in Istanbul. Get up: 10am. Still do everything that Tom did - perhaps start my day with a Turkish coffee instead. Then after a fabulous day of exploring, I retreat to my hotel and get ready for the action-packed Istanbul nightlife that the LP website raves about. I could go on but I’m meeting these awesome English tourists I met in the queue for the National Archaeological Museum. I’ve got quite a fun night ahead of me and luckily I’m on holiday so I can sleep in if I want to.

Tom: Courtney’s position revolves around the reasonable, if flawed premise that to have a relaxed trip your time should be spent slowed down, with ample time to see things. In other words, build in time to waste time. No sensible traveller would tolerate this. Your holidays are too precious to do this. Don’t waste them lounging around in bed. Get up and get out!