Those precious two (and occasionally three) day spans of time when us 9-to-5-ers are unshackled from our desks make for wonderful opportunities to travel. Weekend getaways should be a refreshing and revitalizing experience, not a stressful and strained ordeal.This, I’ve learned from experience.
Between spending years tantalizingly close to California and the last 19 months or so in London, I’ve more than dabbled in the weekend getaway department and discovered for myself what works and what doesn’t, and what is and isn’t worth it. So here goes:
Weekends always feel too short and those of us who are eager travellers sometimes pounce on the red-eye Friday night or super early Saturday morning flights. This is a definite DON’T. Friday night flights means one extra night in a hotel (cha-ching!), plus late night airport transfer which usually is in the form of a taxi (double cha-ching!) since most public transport does not run 24/7. As for early morning flights, by the time you get to your destination you’ll be ready for a nap and chances are it will be too early to check into your hotel.
While it may seems like wasting away your Saturday, choosing a flight that leaves at a reasonable time means that you’ll arrive at your destination refreshed and awake. Proper planning will ensure that you don’t waste too much time worrying about logistics and you can get started with your holiday.
Choose a Theme
Unless you’ve ventured into one of those one-stoplight towns, one weekend is not going to be enough to see everything in a city so matter how hard you try. Instead, try to pick a theme for your trip and run with it. For example, I chose architecture during my weekend trip to Barcelona, on Jersey Island it was nature and in Belgium it was food. Picking a theme helps you choose what to fit into your two precious days and of course does not preclude you from adding in a few side items.
Don’t get too wound up in not being able to see or experience everything you want. You can always return to the destination again in the future and choose a different theme!
This one should really be a no-brainer considering there is an accessory called the weekend bag hanging around most department stores. If you take a look at said weekend bag, it’s not all that large. Basically, if it doesn’t fit into a moderately-sized backpack and purse (for the ladies . . .because let’s face it, we have more stuff), then leave it. Pack the essentials like a clean pair of underoos and basic toiletry items, but try and keep it to not much more than that. Additionally, if you’ve got a wi-fi enabled smartphone and you’re not part of a secret government agency or spy ring, keep the laptop at home. Your smartphone should be more than enough to check e-mails, maps, etc. whilst on your trip and the last thing you need is to find yourself or your partner wasting away a Saturday night watching adorable kittens on youtube.
Do your Due Diligence
Planning is one of those love it or hate it things. Some people enjoy flying by the seat of their pants, while others are much happier creating a master plan or itinerary. Between the two, I naturally fall on the side of planning, but I also recognize the need for a dose or spontaneity, especially when it comes to weekend getaways. Planning a completely regimented weekend can make the break feel more like a chore, so my advice would be to pick out a few must-see/must-do items, and leave the rest to fate. I’ve found that it is in these moments of pure, unbridled spontaneity that the best travel memories are made.
Turning a fleeting weekend into a full, enjoyable and stress-free weekend getaway is no small feat. However, if you front load the key travel and itinerary points (i.e. booking hotels, flights, major events/activities), this will help to relieve a lot of the usual worries. From there, choose a theme, plan a few key activities around it and remember to remain flexible throughout the trip. While this may not guarantee a problem-free weekend, it’s definitely a good start.