According to CNBC, in 2017 52%!!! of Americans didn’t use all their vacation days!?! What?!?! For your physical and mental health PLEASE use your time off. Small vacations around weekends allow for more trips and, I believe, greater relaxation. Sometimes week long+ vacations end up being very stressful with all the planning and travel involved. Weekend trips simplify all that.
So repeat after me: I will take all my vacation days
You take more days off when you plan for them. So don’t just think you’ll get around to taking a few days off later this year. Plan them now!
I’ll go through an easy way to plan a quick and easy weekend trip. I’m only talking driving trips here. All of these tips are applicable to making long holiday weekends too. You must plan farther in advance for those though.
1. Pick a destination.
It is sometimes hard to get started so I’ll give you three ideas to get the ideas flowing.
- State parks- I usually look to state parks if I want a true getaway (limited cell phone and wifi). While they may have these amenities, I know I’ll be out in nature more so I won’t be as reliant on them. Also, many state parks offer cabin rentals or other types of lodging if you don’t want to RV or camp.
- Recommendations – ask friends, co-workers, or ask on Facebook. Someone may have a certain little cottage they love going to or did a fun tour you’ve never heard of. Others love telling you about a great time they’ve had.
- I’ve found a useful tool online that allows you to enter your zip code and then draw a radius based on the mileage you set. https://www.mapdevelopers.com/draw-circle-tool.php. Say you only want to go somewhere within 100 miles. You enter your zip, the mileage then hit new circle. Look at cities and town within the circle to see where maybe a great place to visit. Sometimes if I don’t know much about a town, I’ll google it. You can at least see the town website and what area attractions they promote.
Remember when looking at towns/ cities close by, put aside your prejudices. Wait, what? Prejudices against a town or city? Yep. I grew up in a small town where most people didn’t care for the “big city”. I grew up disliking the seediness of the city closest to my hometown. I even lived there for a summer in college, so I know it’s not all that bad. But that was 20 years ago and I haven’t been back. 20 Years! I still live within a short distance from this city and know that they have some great attractions. But still, haven’t been. This is all due to my childhood prejudice of this city. Maybe I’ll start planning my weekend trip there now.
Also, plenty of city people are biased against small towns. They always assume there’s nothing to see there. There are plenty of great festivals in small towns. For example, I know of a Strawberry Festival, Mule days, RC cola and Moon pie festival. Now, don’t all those sound like fun? Plus there are LOTS of small towns that have fascinating histories.
It’s easy to just opt for the usual here but think outside the box.
Types of places you can stay:
- bed and breakfast
Do something different. Maybe you want a hot tub. A swimming pool. A place near hiking trails. Know what you want and find it. Heck, we stayed in a wigwam once in Kentucky.
Finding a place to stay is one of the areas I tend to spend too much time. I’m worried I’ll pay too much. So, I did a small experiment. I’ve always read that you should book directly with the hotel. I picked one hotel in a big city and one in a small town. I then ran both through the travel aggregate sites (ie Expedia, Tripadvisor) and then checked the prices on the hotel’s website. For the city hotel, all the sites came back at exactly the same price. But the small-town hotel was different. The travel aggregate sites gave me a better price than booking directly with the hotel.
Just something to think about.
3. Plan what to do
This could be as easy as sit in hot tub ALL WEEKEND. Watch movies and eat ice cream all weekend. Fine by me.
But if you need more things to do as my husband does (explained here) look into what activities are available nearby. Parks are great for hiking, boating, fishing, biking etc… If you’re near a small town, or even a city, look to see if there are any festivals that weekend. I almost always check TripAdvisor for a list of things to do. Also, you can always search Pinterest for a specific location and you’ll usually find something.
Some internet ways to look for interesting things in an area. https://www.atlasobscura.com/things-to-do/united-states
Also, try to eat at one local eatery. I usually try to find one of the better ones. You can ask a host, desk clerk or any local for a good recommendation. It’s always fun to see what is good to locals and people watch too.
4. Packing list and travel tips.
Most important – Check the weather! As a woman, I always bring a light jacket or sweater. I tend to be chilly often.
Common things to pack in addition to appropriate clothing:
- electronics- chargers, computers
- health items – workout clothes, medications
- rain jacket and umbrella
- Comfy shoes and pants that are comfortable sitting and walking in
If hiking bring appropriate gear- flashlight, backpack with water, first aid kit
If you are traveling in winter always bring a blanket and extra food. In Summer, always have extra water on hand.
Before you leave you may want to throw out some foods from the fridge and take the trash out. Also, I find it helpful to have a list of emergency contacts. If something happened to me or my phone, my husband would be clueless. I also still like to print out all reservation information. I sometimes print out driving directions if I know the area we’re headed to is far out of the way.