When you’re planning a trip on a very tight timeframe, think “36 hours in….“. It often makes sense to pay a little more, and be more organized to make the absolute most of your trip.

Here are some small tips that can help a short trip still feel relaxing.

- Plan to eat at places that take reservations. There are lots of hot restaurants in cities like NYC that won’t take reservations and involve a 1-2 hour wait. Sites like opentable.com can help you find restaurants that have seatings at your desired time. Consider eating later to make the most of your sightseeing.

- Find out if your hotel has an express checkout option. Give them a call in advance of your trip, let them know you’re going to be very short on time, and find out what’s the fastest way to check in and out. If the front desk is very busy when you arrive, it might be easier to leave your bags with the bellhop and check in later.

- If you’re renting a car, sign up to the company’s loyalty program so you can do express pickups and dropoffs. Lines at car rental companies can be insane! Think: 30 minutes of waiting for both pickup and dropoff. If you need to take a shuttle to pick up the car, find out if there are other car rental places that are right next door to where you have your reservation. Why? That way you can take whichever shuttle comes first and then pop next door. No one is likely to notice or mind.

- Buy it at the destination: If there are things you need for your trip but it would mean checking a bag, consider buying and throwing away items that won’t fit in your carry on. This will give you an extra half hour or so at your destination that you’d otherwise spend waiting for your baggage. You’ll also be able to leave your check in for your flight home until a bit later if you’re not checking bags.

- Check out the cost of parking your car at the airport. If you’re only going on a 2 day trip then parking at the airport can end up costing less than an airport shuttle.

- If you usually make special requests at hotels, don’t forget to make them in advance. Call the hotel while you’re waiting for your flight to check they’ve been arranged. For example, I have allergies and therefore need a feather-free room but often I forget to request it in advance. You’ll save time vs. having to switch out the bedding once you’re already in your room.

- Avoid going to museums when they are having their weekly or monthly free entrance nights. They’ll usually be crowded.

- Pick a very central hotel. While public transportation is awesome, it’s best for trips where your pace is more relaxed. Choosing a central hotel will often eliminate the need to figure out how to use the public transportation system since you can walk or take an inexpensive cab around the corner to where you need to go.

- Footwear. If you’re going to be packing a lot into a short time, then make sure your footwear is going to stand up to 14 hour sightseeing days.

- Take a SMALL day pack. A day pack can save you needing to return to your hotel to change before you go to dinner. A large day pack will slow you down all day and be unpleasant. However, you can easily put a non creasing little black dress and some sparkly sandals in your day pack without it weighing you down. Don’t take a day pack if going to museums, as you’ll probably need to check it before entering and that is time consuming.

What are your tips for maximizing your time on the ground if you only have a very short trip? I’d love to hear them!