Being at a job with a limited number of vacation days is a drag, but you can (and should!) still travel as much as you possibly can. YOLO.
Shorter trips are ideal for getting out there and exploring on long holiday weekends, or whenever you can take a Friday off. Even when you only can squeeze in a Friday night to Sunday, it’s still worth it, IMHO. I’m not saying you should jet off on a 12-hour round-trip adventure, but anywhere within a 2-4 hour flight radius of where you live is ideal. And if you’re willing to take a redeye, you can stretch your time even more.
Don’t worry about having just a few days in a new place. With a little planning and research, you can pack a lot into a weekend. Here’s how to make the most of it.
- Leave on Thursday evening, if possible: Having to take only a Friday afternoon off from work sounds ideal, but I’ve taken too many Friday afternoon flights to know how cray the airport can be at this time. Not to mention, I’ve arrived from a Friday afternoon flight at 4 or 5 p.m. only to sit in rush hour traffic at my destination. Boo. That’s such a drag when you’re already exhausted from the week and ready to get on with the weekend fun. If you can swing it, instead try to take a Thursday night flight after work. You can breeze right to your hotel or Airbnb, have a drink at the bar, crash, then wake up Friday ready to go. Even if you have to answer work emails or spend a few hours working from the hotel business center Friday morning, who cares? Hopefully wherever you are has a nice view! Alternatively, I love to find a local coffee shop and immerse myself in work while people watching. When you’re in a new place, it doesn’t really feel like work, for some reason.
- Have an itinerary: TBH, fitting in everything you want to do in a short weekend can be a little overwhelming, especially when you’re traveling with family or friends. They’ll have their own idea of what they’d like to see and do, and where they’d like to eat. If there is a museum, restaurant, tour or activity you are excited about, put it on the itinerary, and even buy tickets ahead of time so you won’t back out. (I’m a big fan of using shared Google docs for itineraries because everyone you’re traveling with can access it—another post coming on this soon.) Also, I like to plan out every.single.restaurant where I’m going to eat for breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner. Plus bars and coffee shops. It’s so much easier than walking around trying to find somewhere to eat. Try to stick to places that take reservations. Sadly, most brunch places won’t, but if you get there early (Hint: send one member of your party to wait before they open.) You won’t waste any time waiting around for a table.
- …But try to leave in some flex time, too: Having a set plan for the activities and restaurants is necessary, but be sure to leave some time in between for downtime, exploring and (my fave) shopping. If you don’t give yourself time to walk around or squeeze in a nap before going out Saturday night, you’re going to arrive home much more exhausted than you left.
- Stay as central as you can: If you’re going to a ski resort to ski, or a city to see a few museums you are really excited about, stay as close to those places as your budget allows. On a longer trip, there’s more flexibility to allow some commute time, but on a short weekend, you don’t want to find yourself driving for an hour or more a day. Even if you have to spend a little more, it’s worth it for your time. To make it up in your budget, ditch the pricey rental car and take Uber, Lyft or public transport around instead. Bonus, you won’t have to worry about parking, either.
- Head home later on Sunday, but not too late: On a weekend away, I love to wake up Sunday morning and go to the hotel gym, for a run/walk or to a yoga class, then go to an early brunch (obviously). I even try to do some shopping before heading back to the airport. I’ve found that taking a 2:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. flight on Sunday lets me fit in everything I want to do. If I’m checking out Sunday morning, I can just leave my bag with the hotel concierge until I’m ready to go. That said, I’ve found leaving after 4 p.m. or 5 p.m. Sunday can be too much time to fill on Sunday, and then you arrive home really late. So try to take an afternoon flight if you can. You’ll thank me when you go back to the office Monday morning.
Where are your favorite places to go for a weekend away?