How to Make The Most of Weekend Getaways
The first year of the new decade as been a realll bummer. No one could go anywhere for a while and now that restrictions are lifting – there are still plenty of long weekends to be taking advantage of. The weekend getaways we keep thinking we need are a short drive away! Travel with minimal stress by following a few simple tips!
Plan Ahead at Work
Spontaneity has its place in life, but many of us who work in corporate environments need to plan ahead to make the most of our long weekends. Typically around holiday weekends, we like to take an extra day or two- extending our long weekend to four or five days. This means I have to ask off at least two weeks in advance to be able to take that time off.
This also means planning ahead to make the most of weekend getaways. I’ve been at my job long enough to know that if I don’t plan ahead for work.. it will encroach on my time away. Inevitably there will be an email that needs answering.
Long story short: Get your work in order before you leave – set up ‘Out of Office’ emails – and reap the rewards.
Plan Your Trip Before You Leave
All of the major things you want to do with your time away need to be figured out before you go. This doesn’t take a lot of your time either. You can do a quick google search to figure out the main things to do in the area.. and if you’re planning to go there – chances are you probably already have a good idea of what you want to do.
Mural art is one of my favorite things to spot during quick weekend trips. By adding them to my maps of the region – it’s super easy to spot them without going too out of my way!
Things like the massive amount of murals in Louisville don’t require too much planning to see. However, seeing the Neon Museum of Las Vegas will probably require a lot more planning ahead!!
Is there a cuisine the area is known for? If you’re slipping away for a weekend to the charming New England coast – you’d be remiss if you didn’t get a chance to try the lobster rolls! The area is known for them and everyone who’s had one loves them. Don’t miss out on a regional delicacy because you didn’t do any research!?
You can also ask the locals for suggestions – especially if you’re staying at an Airbnb. Most Airbnb hosts pride themselves on being helpful to their guests so asking for restaurant recommendations is pretty standard. On almost every trip we’ve been on- the locals gave us the best restaurants! When we were in Aruba – our host Sharon pointed us towards lunch at the golf course on the island. Not something I would’ve typically done but it was incredible!
When we do big trips – we don’t book our accommodations for more than 1-2 days in advance. We like to see where the trip leads us and that’s given us the opportunity for some pretty incredible experiences! In Florence Italy, we decided on a whim to head to the Saturnia Hot Springs. We didn’t have any plans the next day set in stone- So we went!
While this is a great way to let your adventurous spirit flow on larger trips- it can actually be a huge hassle for smaller trips. Pick your booking close to the attractions and food. There is nothing worse than being starving and realizing your hotel is far away from all of the food.
I also recommend staying near the action! This way you’re not wasting time on transit to and from the major attractions.
take Smart Time Off Work
If you’re going to take an extra day off of work to make the most of a weekend getaway – chose a good time to take off work.
Consider going to a lively city like Boston. To give you a full three-day weekend you could either take the Friday or Monday off, but one might be better than the other.
Taking the Monday off means you have a full Sunday and part of Monday to explore when the city isn’t so busy. Pros: Gives you better access to attractions that won’t be as full. (Restaurants typically won’t have as much of a wait on Sundays or Mondays either! This is so worth it for Ev and I! We’re such foodies and it’s easier to take pics of our food this way lol! ) Cons: Potentially missing out on the hustle and bustle of the weekend culture.
Taking the Friday before off means you’ll have a partial Friday and a full Saturday to explore. Pros: You’re exploring during the city’s most alive times and you experience more of the local culture this way. Cons: You may have to wait in line for attractions or they may be more crowded in general.
Consider what kind of adventures you’re in the mood for when considering what day to take off!
Don’t Go too Far Away
In all the time you spend planning, budgeting, etc for your long weekend.. the last thing you want to waste time on is travel time. Long flights, layovers, and long drives eat into your hard-earned time off. I’m a numbers person so let’s do the math on how far away or what level of travel actually makes sense.
- A typical 4-day long weekend is 96 hours.
- Take 8 hours a day away for a full night’s rest (32 hours) – you’re left with 64 hours.
- Take away about two hours for daily life functions that don’t include meal times. Lounging before you fall asleep, getting ready in the morning, and just miscellaneous time every day- 56 hours left.
- That leaves you with 14 hours a day for your entire weekend. While that may seem like a lot of time- you’ll have to be strategic about what you really want to see and do!
Use the 50/50 Planning Rule for Activities
Don’t try to plan too many activities – use your time wisely by planning no more than 50% of your time with activities. It can be so tempting to want to fit in all the activities when hitting up a new town or BnB. If there is anything I’ve learned – there’s nothing like a tight schedule to ruin activities one after the other.
Think about it like this: For a full two days in one location you’ll need approximately 6 meals. That means you can max fit in 6 restaurants to try around visiting attractions. Picking restaurants close to where you’ll already be staying and driving in the vicinity of is smart too.
If you’re traveling to a ‘foodie town’- I highly suggest using the Yelp App. You can search by ratings and price right from the app around where you’re going. This ensures you’re not missing out. Typically I just type in the city first and then click ‘restaurants’ to see what pops up first. (These are usually the best!). This is the strategy I’ll implement for our Asheville trip this fall.
The other strategy for maximizing your trip in non-foodie towns? Pack all of your own groceries and food. For our anniversary trip to hike in Eastern Kentucky – we packed quite a few of our groceries so that we could hike all day without stopping for food. In the evenings we were able to cook in our cabin as well. Completely maximized our time to spend together by pre-planning!
Also, keep in mind: Just because an attraction is famous, doesn’t mean you have to do it! If a library is famous but you don’t care about libraries- why waste your time!?
Stop The Endless Scrolling + Read Something
Seriously people. We use our phones 24/7. The whole point of planning ahead and budgeting for a weekend getaway is to refocus and relax. Even if you’re not going anywhere crazy and you want to just veg out in a cabin- there are better ways to do it than to mindlessly scroll Instagram, Facebook, or TikTik.
- Listen to podcasts – See a few great podcast recommendations here.
- Listen to some great music – See all of my playlists here.
- Read something – See a few reading recommendations here.
- Watch a movie – ESPECIALLY THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY! 😀
All of these options stimulate your brain, and are wayyyy more refreshing than your average day social media scrolling!
This is the best thing I’ve ever learned in our travels! The less you pack the less you stress, (and you’ll save money along the way!)
Favorite part of packing light – never wondering what I’m going to wear. This is another reason why we try to create wardrobes built with quality staples. It makes packing easier. I’d rather have 6 pieces to mix and match that all look good and fit me well – then an outfit for every event that I don’t love. (It’s also good to start focusing on creating this kind closet because it lends itself to quick packing when you don’t have a ton of time anyways before a weekend getaway!)
Another reason to pack light is if you’re flying somewhere for a weekend getaway. If you’re flying, not only is there more of a risk with checking your bags, but it takes more time to wait and get your bags when you get off the plane. The last thing you want is to have to waste precious time calling and finding your bags!
Shop my favorite weekend getaway staples!
The best apps to help you make the most of a weekend getaway are going to be Google Maps and Trip Advisor. Both apps allow you to save the attractions you want to see!
Pro Tip: Get familiar with these by planning a weekend in your hometown. You can map routes and save attractions super easy! Sometimes the most memorable trips are within a couple of hours from your home!
Leverage Existing Long Weekends On National Holidays
To make the most of a weekend getaway – sometimes the most satisfying part is when it’s an automatic given from your job. Here’s a list of potential long weekends and potentially longer trips if you play your cards/ time-off right.
- Memorial Day Weekend: 3 Days (Saturday, May 23rd- Monday, May 25th in 2020)
- Independence Day: 3 Days When it falls on a Weekend ( Friday, July 3rd- Sunday, July 5th in 2020)
- Labor Day Weekend: 3 Days (Saturday, September 5th- Monday, September 7th)
- Thanksgiving: Typically since it’s the last Thursday in November – Companies also give the Friday after off two. If you’re not big on large gatherings – this can be an easy 4-day weekend trip with no extra time off work.
- Christmas Eve and Christmas: The same goes for these holidays. The company doesn’t give off for Christmas Eve but they do allow one ‘Floating Holiday’ to be used whenever. (Basically an extra vacation day.) I used that to my advantage and take small trips over this long weekend sometimes.
- New Years 2021: This year it comes on a Friday!! Built-in three day weekend to celebrate the new year!!
Last But Not Least – Take Your Holiday
In all of the hustle and bustle of planning and making bucket lists – there is one thing that will keep you from being able to make the most of weekend getaways:
NOT TAKING THE TRIP.
You can plan and research forever – but you need to take the plunge eventually to reap the rewards of how much you work! This is the biggest downfall of working full time and the go go go lifestyle that we Americans live. We have less time off work than anyone and some of us don’t even take the time we get automatically. Don’t let this become you!!
How To Travel While Working Full Time
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Until next time friends,
I agree at being smart with days of to make long weekends longer. It really makes a difference. I’ve been making the most of getaways close to home this year. Great tip about the 50/50 rule. I usually get carried away and over plan, but it’s nice to leave some time free
It really is nice to have free time! It’s so important to give yourself room to breathe or you’ll end up hating your trip!
Girl yes! I love the 50/50 rule. I think people assume because it’s a short trip that they should cram a ton in but it’s not feasible and leads to more burn out.
Shelby LambNina Clapperton
Burn out is something I’ve had to learn to recognize! I feel like I was that person and I’m so glad I’ve learned from it!
We are 100% planners so we agree with everything in this entire post. The anxiety level of only having 2 days somewhere is what gets us but your post is full of great tips to manage and enjoy weekend mini vacays 🙂
Shelby LambSophia Bawany
Oh I totally understand the anxiety! That’s why I force myself to use that 50/50 rule!