Lonely Planet Writer

Only got a day in a city? Ask yourself these questions first.

Just how much can you pack into one day? While there's a whole range of 24-hour itineraries at your disposal, Lonely Planet staffers Jane and Mark have put together an essential checklist of 10 questions to ask yourself when you’re planning a one-day itinerary:

1. What are your interests?

If you’re a history buff, you might want to take a walking tour of a neighbourhood. If you’re into culture, a trip to a gallery might be more fun for you. If you’re an adrenalin junkie, the two suggestions we’ve just made sound like a one-way ticket to Snoozeville. Work out what you’re interested in and start from there.

2. How much time do you actually have?

Factor in your morning personality. If you're a 'Hey, you're missing the best part of the day!' early bird, you're going to have a bit more time up your sleeve, but if you're a natural night owl, it may take a little more of that precious time to get going. Some day trips mean getting up early to make the most of the excursion; other times you're limited to a smaller chunk of time. Make the most of what you've got - if you've only got four hours, a six-hour boat cruise is off the cards, but a turn around a market and checking out a bar is not.

3. Can you be in the right place at the right time?

Can't get to Angkor Wat in time to catch a glorious sunrise? It can happen to anyone. Tweak your ambitions - it’s much, much easier to catch sunsets instead.

4. What do you want to get out of the day?

Some days are made for abseiling, others are made for sitting in the sunshine or picking through fleamarkets and record stores. Ask yourself what you're in the mood for - adventure, fun, relaxation or something else entirely.

5. What’s the weather forecast?

Rainy days don’t have to spell distaster. It’s just a sign that some indoor activities might be in order. Do some seasonal research beforehand so you can have a rough idea of what to expect and have a couple of Plan Bs in your back pocket.

6. How long will it take for you to get there?

Be realistic about transit times. Sometimes public transport will get you from A to B quicker than a taxi if traffic is peaking; other times you’re better off on foot. Study your transport options and make sure you've got enough time to get where you need to be.

7. What’s nearby?

If you’re staying in the heart of the action, this question probably doesn’t apply to you - although you may want to pick a few prime places to hit first. Once you’ve settled on an attraction or an activity, it can be useful to think about where you can grab a meal nearby. If there isn't anything nearby, you're going to have to pack some provisions.

8. How much cash do you have to splash?

Even with no money in your pocket you can usually find something fun to do (here’s a whole list of free attractions). Simply hitting the streets and soaking up the atmosphere or the scenic views doesn't cost a thing. Some galleries and museums have free entry at certain times. Deciding how much you have to spend can help you shortlist your choices.

9. What’s on?

Guidebooks can give you a rough idea of what's on, but asking a local is always a good bet for a hidden gem. Too scared to ask? For options on sports matches, gigs, exhibitions, festivals, comedy, theatre, dance, club nights, check out listings in the local street press or online.

10. Is it open?

There’s no point rushing across town to get somewhere only to find it closed. Or worse, having to loiter around for a while until an attraction opens. Check opening hours in your guidebook or online to avoid disappointment.

So, what are the questions that you ask yourself while you plan a day trip?

Plan your day - or week - with Lonely Planet's City Guides.