Can’t wait to visit the Louvre? It may not be too long before you’re aching to get out. If you’re like a lot of people who travel abroad for culture (meaning one museum after another), you’ll try to do or see to much and end up exhausted.
Here’s what to do to prevent museum fatigue:
1. Get information about the museum before. Order a brochure or go online to see which exhibits and events you would be interested in. This way, when you get there, you’ll already have a good idea about what the museum has to offer. Use the information to plan what you really want to see. Pick out the highlights and forget the rest for another time.
2. Buy or order admission tickets beforehand. There’s nothing more tiring than waiting for 45 minutes on a long line just to get inside. In fact, with your advance tickets in hand, you’ll feel so uplifted as you sail past those other visitors that are waiting for their turn to pay and get in.
3. Take public transportation if you can. Leave your rented car back at the hotel. Parking is hard anywhere these days. It can be impossible in a new country. Driving around looking for parking can start your museum trip off to an energy-depleting start.
4. Do take time to check your coat or other belongings. This is worth waiting in line for. You can get very tired carrying around extra stuff. Many of the old museums–such as the Boston Museum of Fine Arts–are not air-conditioned–and you can really get hot and annoyed if you’re lugging around your coat as you try to see things.
5. Plan on spending two hours max at a museum the first time. Accept the fact that you won’t be able to see everything. They say that if you went to the Egyptian Museum in Cairo and took one minute to look at each exhibit, you would need to spend five years to see everything. So that gives you some idea of what you’re up against when planning to take in a museum.
6. Try to go at an uncrowded time. Avoid weekends. Nothing is more annoying and tiring than squeezing past people to take a glimpse at an exhibit you would like to spend some time looking at.
7. Go with someone you can be honest with. Visit a museum with someone you can tell that you’ve had enough, or that your feet hurt, or that you want to go off on your own for a while and meet up later. I can’t think of anything worse than trailing around with someone, looking at things only he/she is interested in. By the time you get to see what you want, you’re too tired to care.
8. Don’t start off with the museum restaurant or gift shops. (These happen to be the favorite places in a museum–more than any exhibits or anything.) If you hit these spots before, you won’t want to see anything else. Save the cafe and bookshop as awards.
Ilene Springer has a Certificate in Museum Studies from Harvard University and lives and teaches EFL in Malta. She is the author of An-American-in-Malta.com.