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?