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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

A woman relaxing during a wekend getaway she planned

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

A man waiting in front of a moving train

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

A car parked in front of the lake with a tent on top

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

A couple walking in front of the Berlin wall

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

A man feeling the vacation vibe on his weekend getaway

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

A view of someone's legs in front of a vacation cabin

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.

Disconnect

A camera phone taking a picture of a woman in front of a city skyline

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?

Quite often, people are afraid to travel solo, fearing that they cannot make friends while traveling, that they don’t meet people on the road, worried that this will leave them feeling lonely and homesick. Whilst this is a legitimate worry, the truth is that meeting people on a solo trip couldn’t be easier, you just need to know how!

This guide will detail different ways and tell you how to meet new people during a solo trip. Whether it’s choosing hostels over hotels or embedding yourself into the fabric of local life, there are so many ways to make friends abroad.

So, without further ado, let’s take a look at how to make friends whilst traveling and our guide for the shy tourist…

Solo travel is a trend: why it’s like that and what you can expect – find out in this awesome article about solo travel tips. Because traveling solo doesn’t have to be that lonely after all!

Hostels Over Hotels

Hostel life makes connecting easy

This is perhaps the best way of meeting new people during a solo trip. Whilst the charms of a hotel room are many – who doesn’t like a plush private room, king size bed and room service – they can leave the solo traveler feeling more than a little isolated.

While many hostels offer private rooms that are just as swanky as many hotels, we urge you to try a hostel dorm room in the next place on your itinerary! Just by hanging around the room you will meet new people and the inevitable list of traveling questions can soon lead to a stimulating, interesting conversation with new people. The communal living that accompanies a hostel makes conversing and connecting with others feel natural, making this one of the very best ways of meeting friends on the road.

Another way of using the community-centered ethos of a hostel to your advantage is by visiting the bar. Many hostels have amazing, fun bar areas that often serve great food. Whether during the day or night, hostel bars can be a wonderful place to meet others because they are full of people doing exactly that! The awkwardness of meeting people in an ordinary bar or nightclub evaporates at a hostel bar with easy-going and open-minded traveler types constantly looking for connections with people.

And you know what? The hostel lifestyle isn’t just for the adventurers! Grab your whole family and live your best (vacation)-life in a family-friendly hostel! There are just a few recommendations for your stay. Read here how to handle family vacation in a hostel, the seemingly imperfect coupling.

Trains, Planes and Automobiles

Great views while going with train

One of the great joys of travel is the downtime afforded during the hours and hours you will surely spend in transit. However all of those train journeys, bus rides, and flights can stack up and, after all, there are only so many new songs and podcasts out there to listen to – the perfect opportunity to open up a little and make a connection with your neighbor. 

Maybe it’s the person in the seat next to you or maybe it’s the only other backpacker on a 36-hour coach journey from hell. Either way, you will be surprised how receptive others can be during transport: people’s guards drop a little after hours of travel!

Offer some food, comment on the scenery – literally anything – and you’re likely to strike up a conversation. After all, who knows where that could lead to. You might make a friend for life or at least a few hours. Some of the most interesting, illuminating conversations you can have happen on trains, planes, and automobiles!

One of the best icebreaker for a conversation in an airplane? Giving the seat neighbor a little hint that you’re scared of flying. 🙂 Yes, it’s depressing and annoying to have this worry but make the best of it. And believe us: it’s a good feeling to connect with the person next to you. Because it will take your mind off your fear and allows you to focus on something (or let’s say: someone) else! But moreover, you can find 5 ways to cope when you’re scared of flying here (just to calm yourself).

Get Active and Make Friends while Traveling

Fun activities with strangers
Photo source: Shutterstock.com / Rawpixel.com

Travelers enjoy experiencing trips, activities, and excursions in some of the globe’s most exotic and exciting places. Whether it is a three-night trek into the jungle or a simple trip to a museum, join a guided tour or excursion and meet people on the road. Odds are, many of the people involved will be solo travelers too, and even if they are not you will be surprised how open others are to meeting new people on the road! 

Another great reason to join trips, tours, and excursions is the trip to the restaurant and/or bar afterwards! This is especially true in backpacker hotspots, where travelers are just as interested in the social aspects of their trip as in the culture or nature.

Join a Language Class

Book a language class for connecting
Photo source: Shutterstock.com / Prostock-studio

We love learning the lingo during travel. Firstly, it shows a great deal of respect to the local population if you actually make the effort to speak their language, ingratiating you in a way that pointing and shouting in over-pronounced English simply never could. Second, you will be able to connect with locals in a deeper, more profound way if you can speak to them in their native tongue. This might be easier in languages that are more familiar such as French, Spanish or Portuguese, yet the power of learning a few words in lesser known languages should never be underestimated!

Not only does learning a language help you meet locals and gain an understanding and appreciation of their culture, visiting a local class to learn the lingo might allow you to make some awesome new friends! Odds are that you will meet a ton of other travelers with a curiosity for languages and culture, putting yourself in a zone to meet like-minded people! In addition, the communal aspects of a language class mean that they often eat and drink together after studying, a great way to socialize and practice language skills together. 

Make Friends While Traveling: Use Couchsurfing

Couchsurfing is another way to meet locals, tourists, and expats across the world. Not only does it offer you a free place to stay, but it also brings you together with like-minded folk who are game for a great conversation or at least a couple of beers! 

Create a profile and start asking around on the website. Even if you don’t end up finding a place to stay, Couchsurfing organizes cool meetup events and groups that are geared toward meeting new friends abroad. 

Of course, Couchsurfing is something for the braver ones but let’s give it a try – especially as a traveling woman you might struggle with this thought. Need more safety traveling tips? No problem, here you find them!

And for those who have seized the spirit of adventure

Yay, now you know how to deal with your shyness and how to make friends while traveling! Are you looking for an even bigger adventure now? Maybe moving for a while – to another city, country or maybe even another continent?

Congratulations! That’s a great decision and we are sure that you will have the time of your life and learn in many ways. We prepared the super-duper tips of why, when and how to move abroad (with extra tips for connecting with other people!).

Happy socializing!