The long weekend (or three day weekend) is an excellent option for a quick vacation that can be fun, convenient, relaxing and easy on the budget. But please consider COVID restrictions and quarantine requirements as we continue to deal with the pandemic. That being said, here are the factors (or steps) to consider when planning your next short getaway.
It’s important to remember, this is a short getaway Think of it as a getaway with vacation ideas. Be ok with the idea you’re not going to see and do EVERYTHING in the place you are going. Remember, travel time on both ends of the trip will cut into your “vacation time”. My suggestion is to keep it simple.
The big question to answer while you’re still in the planning stage is to figure out why you’re going on this long weekend in the first place? Alone time? Reflection time? Relaxation? Quality time with your significant other, friends and/or family? Certainly there is crossover here but the major above rivers should be considered because this will guide in other areas of the trip such as transportation and itinerary-building.
This consideration has to do with how far in advance you’re thinking or fitting into an existing and immovable schedule. But remember, deals can be had if you book and plan at least 60 days out (depending on factors such as hotel availability). Remember supply and demand. If you’re traveling when a large percentage of other people are traveling from your departure location, then hotels will fill up, attractions will be busier as well as road traffic and or airplane seats. Once you narrow down to a couple of destination options, also consider what else is happening that weekend in those places. An annual festival you didn’t know about will affect the size of the crowds.
Be flexible on when to take this getaway. If you're a trip planner, then you know the more flexible you are with the timing the better. Also consider departing on a Thursday (if your schedule permits) and returning on a Saturday. Or departing on a Sunday and returning on Tuesday. Traditionally, the masses leave for an extended weekend on Friday afternoon or Saturday morning and return Sunday night. If you are flexible you may be able to avoid traffic delays if you are driving.
Distance has everything to do with travel time. If driving is your best option then look for getaways within a four hours drive of your home. If flying, look for non stop flights with plenty of flight options from your home airport. CLEAR, TSA Pre check and/or Global Entry will all aid in efficiently through security checkpoints.
To help you determine the best option, consider whether or not you’re going to need a car wherever you're going. Parking fees, Uber, taxi, gas, etc. are all budgetary factors and both flying and driving have their positives and negatives. Also consider taking the train. Depending on the route, a train ride may be about the same as a drive but not as taxing on your mind and body.
Many destinations have a lot of lodging options to fit all budgets and sleeping requirements. Hotels, motels, resorts, B&B’s, Airbnb and vacation rentals are all viable. However, it’s important to decide location, neighborhood and the convenience factor. In addition, if you followed my advice from earlier and know “why” your going, this may also guide your lodging decision. Amenities and services also play a role here as well as your budget.
“The Erik Path” has to do with your itinerary while you are on this fabulous weekend. Again, personal preference will be the major driver here. But I would consider a mix of a few activities or attractions that are “on and off the beaten path”. Again, don’t overbook your time while you are away. Allow for a little organic discovery. Remember, this weekend is supposed to be delivering on the reasons you decided to go in the first place.
And yes, the budget. Most of us have some financial consideration so look in every nook and cranny for incremental savings. Get a general idea of the major expenses BEFORE you get your heart set in “that place”. Generally speaking your largest expense will be your overnight accommodations.
I love taking short trips to learn whether or not a particular place is an option for a due trip. Personally, I look for at least one unique experience to a new vacation spot. That’s because I love to learn something I didn’t know every time I travel. Have a fantastic extended weekend and share your tips in the comments below.
I am on a mission to get you traveling more often. As the host of the Emmy award- winning, nationally syndicated television television for PBS and the Create channel, "Beyond Your Backyard," I travel (on average) 25 weeks per year. I am very grateful for the opportunity to meet cool people, experience new places, eat delicious food and work with the best production crew in the world. Hopefully, through this blog, you will join me on my travels and be reminded just how exciting it is to be alive!