Here in Europe we are a little bit spoilt for choice when it comes to short haul city breaks. Travel just a few hours from England and you can reach some of the most sought-after holiday destinations, as well as some (not for long) hidden gems - I'm looking at you, Lisbon. There's nothing quite like journeying to somewhere new with the sole intent of exploring, learning, discovering and absorbing as much as you can. Perhaps that's what gives me a little bit of planxiety before I head off.

Much like my best friend Mel, I do get a little plan happy when I find out I'm off somewhere new for a compact amount of time. I have been known to house notebooks full of recommendations, create itineraries and customise maps weeks in advance. As we're headed off to Rome in a week, my OCD tendencies are in full force and I thought rather than just subject those I love to my regimented approach, I'd offer up some advice for those with short autumn breaks coming up.

STAGE ONE: RESEARCH
My inner nerd comes into full swing when presented with reading material, so travel guides and magazines are pretty much my jam. Once flights are booked and paid for and accommodation is sorted, I'll start this prep around a month or two before our departure date.

With print travel guides, I love the 500 Hidden Secrets series, written by locals in list format with super helpful considerations like '5 best places to take a photograph', '5 best budget lunches', '5 places to buy souvenirs' and '5 best wine bars'. I also like the Wallpaper series for style, and Lonely Planet for substance.

As far as blogs go, Suitcase has a huge online archive of useful stories, and their magazine is well worth picking up - as, too, is Cereal magazine. World of Wanderlust is another absolute fave blog for travel guides, as is Petite Passport. One thing I'm really glad I did was use the search function on Bloglovin to search 'Rome' for all the related blog posts! You can do the same on Pinterest.

STAGE TWO: GET H-APP-Y
Little life hack - head to the app store and type in the name of the city you're visiting. Through doing this, I've discovered a Rome Street Art locator (hello Insta-gold), a fresh drinking water fountain locator, and a public bathroom finder! Not the sexiest of apps but these, I'm sure, will all be hella useful when we're in Italy. Also, the Google Translate app can live translate street signs and text. We live in the future y'all.

STAGE THREE: GOOGLE MAP YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD
The lite version of this is just Google Maps-ing your hotel or Airbnb and having a 'wander' on street view to acclimatise yourself, but let me introduce to you a lil phenomenon my friends. My Maps. You can HACTUALLY create, customise and share maps - which means for every recommendation you get or read about, you can drop a pin on that sucker. And once you've got a collection of pins, you can start seeing what's near other stuff, and once you know that, you can group activities, and once you can do THAT - YOU START CREATING AN ITINERARY MY FRIEND. Do you sense how much I love doing this yet?

STAGE FOUR: IF IN DOUBT, FIGURE IT OUT
With Rome - a place where there is so much to do - we created a 'must do' and a 'could do' list. It was crucial - we have 5 nights and 4 and a bit days if you count the first evening we arrive, so our time is at a huge premium. Colosseum, Trevi Fountain, Pantheon, Palatine Hill and the Vatican were musts, so we bought tickets online and pre-scheduled in these escapades. I'd always recommend doing this with your must do's. But the rest of the time, we have general areas we'd like to explore, some solid recommendations, but no real plan of action other than to wander and discover. With city breaks, sometimes the more you pack in, the less you get to actually 'see', so I always like to make sure there's enough free time to just mooch, shop, and people watch!

I hope this was helpful - if you've got any genius city break planning tips, leave them in the comments - or any recommendations for Rome! 

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