This blog post was updated on September 27, 2019.
Have you ever been scrolling through Instagram and come across another travel post from a friend who just happens to be in the city you’ve been dreaming of visiting? Or maybe you’re starting to feel like you need to unplug and take some time away to just relax, either with your family, friends or even solo. Well then, why don’t you?
If you think you need a long lead time to be able to plan and take a vacation, we’re here to tell you, there’s a different way. Sure, you might not be prepared to take a two-week European tour at the last minute; but there are plenty of ways that you can plan and take a last-minute weekend trip that doesn’t feel thrown-together, rushed, or stressful. Here’s how:
Pick Your Weekend
The first step in planning a weekend trip is to decide when you want to go. If you want to go this weekend — go for it! If you really feel the need to put in some extra time, choose a weekend later in the month.
You’ll also want to decide if you’re truly just going to do a weekend, or if you want to take a long weekend and be gone Friday or Monday (or both!). If you’re looking at extending your weekend a bit, make sure you put in a request for time off work.
Pick Your Destination
The biggest tip here is to be realistic but still optimistic. It’s probably not the best idea to pick a city that’s a 10-hour flight away for your weekend getaway, even if you find airline tickets. That’s a long time on a plane and in an airport, leaving you with barely any time to enjoy yourself.
Choosing a destination that’s close to your hometown, like in the same time zone or in-state, doesn’t have to be boring, though. Reach out to tourism boards and see if they have any brochures or resources on local and semi-local attractions. Maybe there’s a city a commuter flight away that has a “donut trail.” Or a national park a few states over that has gorgeous hiking options.
If you’re still stuck, maybe browse through flights from your origin or in a flight explorer feature. We’re sure you’ll find something to piqué your interest.
Find a Hotel
This is where you might think things could start to get stressful. Aren’t last minute hotels really expensive? Well, it depends. If you’re looking to go to a major city around a holiday, probably. But if you’re going during the off-season or to lesser-known locations, you might just find some deals, especially if you’re flexible with your destination.
You’d be surprised how many hotels with availability will discount the prices at the last minute in order to bring more people in.
Plan a SIMPLE Itinerary…Or Don’t
Some people love to have a plan in place before they go on a trip. Others much prefer a relaxed, go-with-the-flow sort of getaway. Choose whatever works for you when you travel.
If you’re someone who prefers a bit of a schedule, don’t get too crazy. A getaway is supposed to help you unwind and unplug for a bit. If you pack your weekend, you could go back home more tired than you were when you left.
Chances are that while you were looking for a great destination, you probably came across a few attractions or things to do that drew you to that particular location. Narrow that list down to your favorite few (or what you must do), and then some “if I have time” options. That way you’ll have plenty to do if you want, but if you’d rather just lounge at the pool on Saturday, that’s great, too! We wouldn’t recommend an attraction that requires tickets, as that can add extra stress. If you book in advance you might feel compelled to go, but if you choose to wait, they could be sold out.
If you’re okay with no plan whatsoever, then just kick back and get ready to enjoy your weekend.
Need to ask your neighbor to watch your dog and water your plants? Give them a call. This is also the time to pack and run through any typical pre-vacation list you might have. Don’t forget to change your thermostat or unplug major electronics, if that’s something you like to do before you leave. Then set your Out of Office notification and grab your bags — it’s go time!
So, have you decided where you’re going to go on your last-minute getaway? Tell us where you’re headed in the comments section below!