So you want to go somewhere but don’t have much time? A weekend getaway is a great option to see somewhere new, take a break from normality, and experience a different lifestyle. The main drawback with this type of trip is that the time often flies by, and you can feel as though you’ve had no time away at all. Fear not, because I have come up with a list of top tips on how to plan a weekend trip that feels like a real vacation. Time management is key and if you can utilize these tips you’re sure to have a break to remember!
#1 Make the most of your time
Deciding when to leave for your trip and when to return can really help you to stretch out your weekend and make it feel like a vacation. If you literally only have the weekend (Saturday and Sunday off work), the best option is to get away on Friday evening straight after work. If you have an office job, you might consider asking to work a couple of extra hours the day before, so you can head off early to the airport.
That way you can get to your destination on Friday night and (depending on how far you’ve had to travel) go for dinner and settle into your getaway home for the night. It Also gives you a full day on Saturday to go exploring and soak in some culture.
#2 Choose the right location
The destination is very important when you come to plan your weekend getaway. Ideally, you want somewhere that is not too far to travel from your home, as spending many hours traveling each way eats into the time actually spent at the destination. This will of course depend on where you live; whether you are in the countryside, in a big city, and how far away you are from an airport.
A good rule of thumb is to choose somewhere that won’t take you more than 5 hours to get to in total travel time, door to door. This means factoring in any driving (including to/from airports), waiting times, and flight times. For example, if you live an hour away from the airport, you could drive there, check in and have one hour waiting to board, a 2-hour flight, and (with disembarking and getting through the destination airport estimated at 30 minutes), take a 30-minute taxi to your accommodation. I would suggest 5 hours as the maximum to spend traveling, as anymore will take up a large proportion of your precious vacation time. It means, for example, if you leave your home at 6pm on the Friday, you will arrive at your destination by 11pm (not accounting for time zone changes).
Go somewhere different
Another thing to consider when choosing where to plan a weekend trip, is that if you really want it to feel like a vacation, it should be in a location that is markedly different from your home. This can be achieved in many different ways, and doesn’t need to be the polar opposite of your everyday home, but should be different enough that it feels like something new. An obvious option is to travel abroad, where language, cuisine, and architecture can all make you feel like you are on vacation. However, the same effect can definitely be achieved in your home country. If you live in a house, try renting an apartment. Live in the city? Try a small town or village break. If you live inland, try the coast. These (and many more) breaks from your regular routine can help it feel like really “getting away”.
Plan your time wisely
There have been many studies done on time and how we experience it, depending on various factors. One thing that has been consistently reported is that the more different experiences a person is able to try in a given time frame (be it a lifetime or a weekend), the longer that time feels like it lasted to the individual. What this basically means is, the more you can fit into a day, the longer it will feel your trip was when you get home.
I’m not suggesting you schedule every minute of your weekend, in fact I am a big advocate of downtime. BUT, if you want to make it feel like you spent a longer time away, the more you experience, the better.
A good compromise is to split each day into 3×4 hour segments, one morning (8am-12pm), one afternoon (12pm-4pm), and one evening (4pm-8pm). If you followed the advice of arriving Friday night and leaving Sunday evening, this gives you essentially 5 segments to work with. Then you can decide what to do with each segment of your weekend trip.
My personal preference is to get more physical things done in the morning/afternoon (walks/bike rides/hikes/sightseeing on foot etc), and then leave the evening for less strenuous endeavors like seeing a show, chilling by a pool/beach or having an extended dinner. Of course, it is totally up to you, but dividing my days like this helps me to make sure I am able to plan my time well and don’t end up spending 2 days just stuck in a hotel room watching TV… unless of course that’s what you’re into.
Get into holiday mode ASAP
Once the planning is out of the way, and the big day has come, a quick and easy tip to get you into the holiday spirit is to change straight out of whatever clothes you have been wearing for work (this feels particularly amazing if you have to wear office attire or some kind of uniform) and into your “vacation clothes”. Bonus points for sticking a vacation playlist on for the journey home from work on the Friday.
Get enough sleep
Although it may be tempting to stay up all night and sleep in during your time away, I would advise against it. Although this is great for longer vacations, with time being at a premium for a weekend trip, the more hours you have in a day, well… the more hours you have in a day! So if you can, wake up early, or at least, earlyish, you will have more time to play with.
I feel like this should be a rule not only for vacations, but for all hours away from work! Do not check your emails, do not answer any calls / messages regarding work. Tell your colleagues in advance when you plan your weekend trip. You can use your phone for maps or recommendations of local restaurants/sights, but turn off notifications for any work related apps. They will survive without you, and your mind should be where you are!
That’s how to plan a weekend trip right!
Next step finding the destination, yes? Any of these catch your fancy?