Tell me if this is true for you…your routine from week to week is nearly always the same. You certainly don’t have a bad life, but you’d sure like to change it up a bit. What you’d really like is to figure out how to plan a weekend getaway. Whether you’re traveling alone, with your partner, or with your family, wouldn’t it be nice to escape to something different?
Well, what’s stopping you? If you just need a gentle prod, here it is — a simple guide to show you how to plan a weekend away.
Surprise weekend or planned together?
Only you know how your partner or family will best respond. It might be a bit more work to keep all your planning secret, but surprises can be a lot of fun. On the other hand, planning a weekend getaway with your partner or family will allow for everyone’s input.
If you want your getaway to be a surprise, think about details like…
- how to gather everyone together for your departure
- clothing and toiletries you need to pack for each person
- an itinerary that makes everyone happy
- arrangements for petcare
- checking everyone’s calendar
Planned in advance or impromptu?
When you plan a weekend getaway far enough in advance, it is easier to clear your calendar. In fact, it might be a good idea to go to your calendar right now. (I’m waiting!) Find the first weekend coming up that doesn’t have too much scheduled. Fill it in with “Weekend getaway”. Now delete items that were scheduled there. Move them to another date, or decide they’re not that important and delete them. Now you have a free weekend to work with.
Perhaps you prefer to do things spontaneously. In that case, you might want to have a few ideas you’re mulling over, and as soon as you see an opportunity come up, you jump right in and take it! You might have to plan your itinerary on the fly, but at least you’ve made your move.
Budget or luxury getaway?
I hate to say this but your budget factors into how to plan a weekend escape. The good news is it doesn’t really matter whether you can afford luxury or not, because low-budget trips can be just as enjoyable. Of course, you might not be able to stay in a 5-star hotel, but there are plenty of options that won’t break the bank. I’ll talk more about this in my lodging suggestions. Just know that you don’t have to spend a lot of money to have a great weekend getaway.
Should you fly or drive?
How do you decide if you should fly or drive? You certainly could fly somewhere for a weekend getaway. It might eat up more of your time, rule out spontaneity, and cost more. But it could be pretty exciting to jet off to NYC for a weekend…or even to SoCal for a visit to Disneyland. If you live in a dense urban area, taking the train might be a possibility. I’m going to make another suggestion, however.
Why I recommend driving
When you drive, it is typically cheaper, easier to pack, more flexible, and more familiar. So, I suggest you choose a location that’s not more than a few hours’ drive from where you live. Oh, but you think you’ve already seen everything within a few hours drive? I doubt that! And even if you have, every itinerary can be unique. You can choose different activities, dining options, or places to stay. Most likely, there are many towns or attractions near you that you’ve overlooked just because they are close and you’ve thought, “I’ll get to that someday.” Now’s the day!
Here’s an example. For many years, our family made the drive from San Diego to Utah every year. We always passed the turnoff to Death Valley National Park, and I was curious about it, but we never went. Finally, for our 34th anniversary, my husband surprised me with, “Let’s celebrate our anniversary by going to see Death Valley.” I know — that seems like a strange place to go for your anniversary. But it was a perfect weekend getaway with time to hike, explore, take photographs, watch the desert sunsets, swim in a thermal pool, and gaze at a sky full of stars.
Your weekend escape doesn’t have to be to a place you’ve never been. You’re just aiming to break up your routine and enjoy activities you’re usually too busy to participate in.
Where should you stay?
You’ll need a place to stay overnight for a few nights. Wondering what your options are? Hotels, airbnbs, cabins, campgrounds, even family members’ or friends’ homes. If you really need to keep your costs close to nil, stay at your own home and make day trips each day. Does that count? Of course! Once my husband and I camped in our own backyard. It was fun to cook out on a grill, watch a movie on a laptop in our tent, and sit out under the stars. And use our own bathroom instead of a campground privy!
Booking.com is my favorite website to use to book hotels. I like that they usually don’t charge cancellation fees, and the hotels often provide complimentary breakfasts. See what’s available and compare prices with the hotel’s own website. Most campgrounds keep a few sites open for walk-ins, so you might be able to score a favorite campground site without booking months in advance. If you have good friends or family members who’ve been trying to persuade you to come for a visit, do it. Plan a weekend getaway that includes fun time and visiting with them.
Note: I have included an affiliate link to Booking.com. If you make any purchases on the Booking.com website, I will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. I have only included it because I use it all the time and have had great experiences booking hotels.
How do you plan an itinerary?
Some locations don’t require an itinerary. If you’re going to Disneyland or to Zion National Park, you already know what you’re going to do. But if you’re heading out to explore a new town or city, here’s a few tips.
- Go to Tripadvisor and search “top ten things to do in (name of city)“
- Ask friends or co-workers if they have any tips for you
- Check Yelp or other reviews for trending restaurants and tours
- Find your destination’s website and look for special events in their calendar
- Don’t forget to check discount sites like Groupon for additional ideas
An endless list of options
You have so many options! Your weekend escape could include hiking, rock climbing, spotting wildlife, or visiting best places to photograph. You can explore museums and art galleries, go shopping, take cooking classes or a foodie tour, or attend sporting events. Plan around festivals, Broadway musicals, dinner cruises, whale watching tours, or garden shows. With your family, you can opt for outdoor activities like ziplining or kayaking. You might also enjoy bowling, miniature golf, arcades, or go-cart racing.
You don’t even have to spend any money! Interested in free activity ideas? Check out this list:
- visiting parks/gardens
- going on a picnic/playing board games
- watching the sunset/collecting seashells
- feeding the ducks or rowing a boat on the lake
- swimming/surfing/bonfire at the beach
Another great choice is to do nothing. As in…sleep in, order room service, kick back to watch a movie, or read a good book. Most of all, do what you love! For more ideas, see this article: “Have Some Family Fun This Weekend.”
Why is it so important to get away often?
It’s important to have something to look forward to. School, work, or being a stay-at-home mom include a lot of repetition and many mundane tasks. Sometimes there’s a high level of stress as well. Perhaps the rewards don’t come as often as we’d like. Funny how just knowing you have a getaway planned can make everything feel better. You’ll be more patient, less stressed, and certainly more cheerful!
When you take a weekend getaway, you’ll benefit from better mental health, improved relationships, less burnout and boosted happiness. Who doesn’t need that in their lives? I hope you are motivated — and that you now know just how to plan a weekend escape!
I’d love to hear from you in the comments below. Where will you plan your next weekend getaway?
The little things in life make all the difference. Especially a little getaway!
For sure! I think I’m ready for another one!
I think this blog is a really lovely idea. I’m lucky enough to me and my wife love to plan stuff secretly and surprise each other. We do something classes surprise Friday where we do just that. And quite often do weekends away and spend quality time together.
That’s great that you already regularly plan getaways — it’s so good for your relationship!
We love to enjoy weekends away and I get so much pleasure out of the planning and organising of these as well as going on them! We are advance planners rather than impromptu travellers so it’s easy to make space in calendars. Here’s to the next weekend away!
Hope you get to enjoy a weekend away soon!
I love nothing more than a weekend getaway. There’s so much coordination with flights, itineraries, customs, and other things that make a weekend road trip my top pick. These are some great tips – and I especially love the ideas for keeping costs to a minimum. Great resource that gets me thinking about the next opportunity to plan a weekend trip!
Hope you get to enjoy a getaway soon!
I enjoy weekend getaways and I plan similar like you mentioned. I prefer driving too to a nearby destination and enjoy the journey. I prefer Booking.com as well and highly rely on the reviews of the accommodation on Tripadvisor. It’s fun to plan and I guess I need one getaway soon.
Start planning to be sure it happens!
It’s a great and beneficial article for people who would like to spend the weekend excitingly but have no idea how to go about it. I love spending time actively on the weekend. I always think of a road trip, a walk in the forest, or a trip to another city. This helps to recharge the batteries for the next busy week. It doesn’t have to be a long and expensive trip to relax. It’s great that you propose different solutions. Thanks to this, everyone can plan a trip according to their needs and budget. I also use booking dot com for choosing the accommodation!
Sounds like we are both on the same page!
I do like weekend trips and I am more of a spontaneous type of person, I would just jump in the car and drive somewhere. Being in Europe though, flights are much cheaper than driving though, so I often just fly for the weekend to a different country. I live near the airport, which makes it easy to choose flying as well. When I go on a driving weekend trip I do like to stay somewhere unique, like a cabin in a remote place.
Lucky that you’re close to an airport and flights are cheaper than driving!
I agree with you that it a must that we take a break once in a while. Whether it’s planned or impromptu, what’s important is that we make time to have some fun. Thank you for sharing these tips. You just gave me an idea to surprise my family this weekend.
Wishing you a wonderful weekend getaway!
The best moments, as they say, happen when you least expect them. However, I always enjoy arranging weekend time off from work! Whether it is planned or impromptu, simple or costly, what matters is that you enjoy it with your loved ones. Thank you for including a number of activities — it gives me fresh ideas on things to do with my family.
I agree. Making memories with your loved ones is precious!
I LOVE weekend trips! Plus, I LOVE driving… it truly is to me, the best way for short trips less than 6 hours… Since I live in Arlington TX, by far the best weekend trip has been to Palo Duro Canyan south of Amarillo. Great post!
I love planning. It is as interesting as the trip itself or the writing about the trip. But we always opt for driving.
This is a great idea. Now that the cost of flying is doubled and cost of covid test is outrageous. Weekend plans within your home country is still the best.
Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment!!
I love the energy on this post. Feel free to do whatever you want and how you want them to go! Freedom! Hehe!
Thanks for sharing. I am also looking to travel this weekend.