Have you ever skipped an attraction or monument you were looking forward to visiting simply because the line to get in was too long? It’s becoming easier to skip the line instead, so you won’t miss out.
According to the 2018 Travel Trends report by TripAdvisor (SmarterTravel’s parent company), four of the world’s 10 most popular travel experiences last year included “skip the line” or “priority access.” Two of the 10 most popular travel experiences in the U.S. featured the same skip-the-line perks.
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Clearly, fast-track access can be an important part of the overall experience at blockbuster attractions. TripAdvisor reported that some form of priority access was available at about 1,200 worldwide attractions. Long lines just about anywhere are a huge waste of your limited vacation time, and being able to skip the line is increasingly key to getting the most out of a visit.
How to Skip the Line at Tourist Attractions
So, how can you arrange fast-track entrance to big-time visitor centers? Here are six approaches to help you skip the line.
Ask the Attraction Directly
Many tourist attractions, from theme parks to museums and observation towers, offer their own “fast track” advance-purchase tickets. Even when museums don’t sell fast-track admissions as such, many offer fast-track admission as a benefit of membership, which is often a nominal fee. And although museums and exhibits are not always overcrowded, they can become frantic during a popular temporary exhibit.
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Find a Third-Party Ticket Outlet
Independent outfits in many areas specialize in selling fast-track tickets to popular attractions, especially in France and Italy. Among them are Weekend a Firenze, TicketOne, Select Italy, and Museum Pass. In addition, you can find single-city ticket and pass outlets in many large cities.
Book a Tour
Several TripAdvisor respondents used local tours that included fast-track admission to key attractions. Viator, a SmarterTravel sister company also owned by TripAdvisor, is a major search engine of local tours. You can often find others in the area through the local tourism board or by searching for them online. Or, you can wait until you arrive and find a tour through your hotel concierge or a local travel agency—but you might not be getting the best deal.
Buy a City Pass
Leisure Pass offers multi-attraction bundled passes for 13 cities in the U.S., five in Europe, and Dubai, that include fast-track access to many major attractions. CityPass offers a similar mix, at 12 metro areas in North America, but the only current pass with good fast-track access is Chicago’s.
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Get a Hotel Package
For blockbuster events and exhibitions, local hotels sometimes offer packages that include fast-track entrance or admission. The website for the event or exhibition usually lists hotels that are participating in a ticket package.
When you look up an attraction on TripAdvisor, you’ll often see traveler testimonials that reference skipping lines. If the skip-the-line service isn’t one of the 1,200 already bookable on TripAdvisor, comb through the reviews for any mention of specific tours, passes, and other ticket choices that might help you locate one.
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Consumer advocate Ed Perkins has been writing about travel for more than three decades. The founding editor of the Consumer Reports Travel Letter, he continues to inform travelers and fight consumer abuse every day at SmarterTravel.