When money and time prevent you from taking a vacation, consider an alternative plan: A weekend getaway. These short trips allow you to regroup, recharge and travel to more places during the year. With a short amount of time, how can you guarantee your next weekend getaway will feel relaxed, not rushed? First tip of weekend travel: Don't let traveling become a headache.
"A lot of stress that is inherent in travel is engendered by the individual," says Bob Hoelscher, chairman and CEO of the National Tour Association. "[The] stress is generated internally."
In order to avoid additional stress when traveling, plan ahead. If possible, purchase tickets to events and attractions before you arrive at your destination. This will allow you to spend more time enjoying yourself, rather than waiting in lines or planning your agenda. If you plan to visit a location during its peak season, it's especially important to book your hotel far enough in advance. Besides saving money, you don't want to get stuck with less-than-ideal accommodations or flights that will only add stress to your trip.
For example, a delayed flight is an inconvenience, but it shouldn't ruin the time you have to get away. If you're planning a weekend trip, try to make it a long weekend, especially if you're flying. Most travelers feel rushed when cramming a trip into less than four days. Consider taking a Friday and a Monday off in an effort to maintain some peace and control during your weekend getaway.
Choosing the perfect weekend getaway destination
The key to making a weekend getaway feel relaxed and not rushed is to choose a destination that isn't too far from home, but still allows you to see a new place.
"There are so many places one can go where you can get away from it all," Hoelscher says. "I'm a big fan of the national parks. The closer you can get to nature in the shortest period of time, the more chances for a relaxing weekend." With U.S. national parks peppered throughout the country, you only need to spend a few hours on a plane to reach one.
For those who would prefer to lounge in the sun, consider a short cruise. Cruise lines offer two-, three- and four-day cruise itineraries. This option is obviously easier for travelers who live near a port-of-call, but with the right planning, you can fly to a city where cruise lines depart from, as well.
Although a theme park visit might be ideal for some travelers, Hoelscher notes that on a short getaway, standing in lines probably isn't the best way to spend your time. However, if the high seas or serene mountains aren't your thing either, there are always plenty of exciting cities to explore. Bustling cities aren't typically synonymous with relaxation, but visit a "walking city" and you might disagree.
"People travel with their MP3 players…you can be off in your own world," Hoelscher says, noting that San Francisco, Boston and Philadelphia are great walking cities.
The don’ts of weekend getaways
Don't check your luggage. Remember, you're only traveling for a few days. Avoid checking your luggage and you'll not only save time, but also money.
The biggest mistake you can make on a weekend getaway, according to Hoelscher: Trying to fit too much into a short amount of time. "Do one thing in-depth rather than doing a whole bunch of things."