Quick getaways are for everyone. Families can travel during a school break. Couples can get away without missing work. Girlfriends can maximize a trip together without having too worry too much about everyone left at home. Whether you want to see the gnarly waves of California, the bright lights of New York City, the vastness of a national park or just check out some fab hotels in Dallas, you can do it all with some well-planned weekend getaways.
Disclosure: The writer was hosted for this trip.
Long weekend trips can help you de-stress and shake up your normal routine. They can give you something to look forward to and help make your days more bearable. Plus, since they only take up one or two vacation days (or less if you can travel over a national holiday), you can get several in each year.
To help you plan the quick getaways in your future, check out 11 tips that will help you make the most of your limited time while still having one of the best weekend getaways you can have!
11 Tips for Awesome Quick Getaways
1. Be smart about your hotel location
One of the most important decisions you will make is where you will stay. You want to book a hotel that is close to where you want to be. Are you heading to concert? Find a place within walking distance and save yourself the cab fare. Hoping to explore a city? Be sure to book in the city center so you can easily get where you want to be.
Last month, I met my sister in Dallas, Texas for a IRL get together. There’s only so much time we can spend on the phone. We needed to be in the same space. We spent 48 hours laughing together until we cried. The Holiday Inn hotels where we stayed were in vicinity to our plans for the day and offered us reliable, comfortable, surprisingly chic accommodations. Our hotels in Dallas allowed us to connect because we didn’t have to think about if the bed would be comfy or the breakfast would be good.
2. Book in advance, if you can.
This is one of those tips where I urge you to do what I say and not what I do. I am the queen of the last minute jaunt to Florida or a road trip to a nearby destination. However, for the best price and to avoid a hotel selling out, the best days to book your trip are between 105 to 21 days in advance, according to Cheap Air. If you want to get specific, 54 days in advance is the magic number. Book your transportation and hotel in advance but also consider booking tours, attraction tickets and even restaurant reservations in advance too. With quick getaways, you don’t want to leave too much to chance.
3. Pack light.
Repeat after me: Carry-on only! You are only going to be gone for a few days, so ditch your big suitcase. It will save you money in baggage fees as well as time waiting around for it. Think about what vibe you plan to have for your weekend getaway and pack clothes that all work together. Factor in the weather and how much you’ll be walking too. On a trip to Washington D.C., I packed comfortable shoes and several pairs of yoga pants. I knew I was going to be walking miles! However, when I’m able to jet off to NYC, I’m bringing the most stylish gear in my closet. New York is not the place for my mom gear.
4. Use apps to maximize your budget.
Sometimes you want to plan some weekend trips, but you aren’t set on a specific destination. If you want to find a trip to fit into your budget, I’m a big fan of Kayak’s Explore tab. You can set your home airport, your travel budget, and length of trip, and then it will show you a map of places you can fly. Here’s some surprising prices for weekend trips I found. I maxed my budget out at $200 and set the time period for a 3-4 day trip in December 2019.
- Atlanta to San Francisco $167
- Atlanta to Chicago $75
- Atlanta to San Diego $189
- Atlanta to Miami $44 (I need to book this STAT.)
- Atlanta to San Juan, Puerto Rico $106
5. Have a (rough) daily plan.
You don’t need to have every minute of your weekend getaway planned out, but I suggest having a rough plan. If you’re visiting Seattle, figure out which day you want to check out the Space Needle. Going to Florida or California, can you make time to enjoy the beach? And if you find yourself in New Orleans, you must add a stop at Cafe du Monde to your plan. (Actually, you can probably just pencil that in for everyday.) If you are looking for Dallas day trip ideas, I recommend visiting the State Fair of Texas. If you have just a general outline, that will save you from waking up on day 1 and thinking, “Now what?” At our hotels in Dallas, the front desk receptionist gave us great input for our plans.
6. Consider travel time.
When booking a quick getaway or looking for long weekend ideas, you will want to consider how much time it will take to get to your destination. Even though you could drive, does flying make more sense? Although you are dying to go to Los Angeles, is the 5 hour plane right and 3 hour time change going to rob you of your time? It’s super important to actually have time in the place you are traveling to, and not just have that part be an after thought.
7. Bring snacks.
As a mom, I always bring snacks. Always. I have found that on quick getaways, they are even more important. You don’t want to spend time searching for a place to grab a snack or a light lunch, or pay exorbitant prices because that’s all you can find. Plus, if you are traveling with kids, snacks can buy you at least a few hours before a total meltdown.
8. Ditch the kids and travel with a buddy instead.
I traveled to Dallas, Texas, with my sister. We have 12 kids between us, so you can imagine how hard it is to get away. However, once we do, we can move through a city so much faster. We don’t have to factor in if the kids will get tired or bored or hungry. We can do adult stuff and talk about adult stuff. We can soak up wine country in Napa or eat ALL the fried food ever made at the Texas State Fair. We can celebrate the nightlife or art scene or maybe just celebrate having a super cozy bed to ourselves for the night. (At our hotels in Dallas, we did just that.)
9. Book a hotel chain you trust.
When you are trying to enjoy a quick getaway, you don’t want to tempt fate by staying at some off-brand place you’ve never heard of. There’s something to be said for the friendly smile, bright lobby and super comfy beds at IHG brands, including Holiday Inn. The hotels where we stayed were clean, bright and, as two women traveling alone, we felt very safe. Also, Holiday Inn Express hotels offer complimentary breakfast and had on-site restaurants with really delicious food. This helps to save money on meals and Uber fares. Best of all, I knew what to expect.
10. Do some research.
Since I live in Atlanta, there are fantastic options very close by. There’s Savannah, Asheville, Charleston and Nashville, Tennessee to name a few. But before I get to these great places, I need to do my research. I try to map out what’s around my hotel or attractions I’m planning to see. I don’t need to know everything, but I do need to have a general sense of the city. Where are the best neighborhoods? What does Twitter say is the best place for fine dining? Will this be one of the best romantic getaways or more of a family affair?
11. Don’t settle.
When thinking about where to stay, ask yourself if you prefer large hotels on the strip in Las Vegas or a quiet boutique hotel with an ocean view in Santa Barbara. Think about walkability, the cost of parking, distance from the airport (if flying), and the proximity of public transportation. I found that the Holiday Inn hotels where we stayed offered us exactly what we were looking for, at a cost no one could complain about. When you only have a few days, this isn’t the time to be extra cheap or not go for what you really want.
As you can see, a quick getaway is awesome. The only hard part is deciding where to go. Where will you go on your next long weekend away?