Got a free weekend coming up that you’re eager to turn it into a few fun-filled days away? Play your cards right and you can achieve your ends easily and affordably, BUT insert too much into your itinerary or add too little to your agenda and you might find yourself in greater need of a vacation – and with way less money – than before you went away.

For weekend warriors looking to make the most of a short trip without blowing a big budget or draining every last drop of energy, here are six practical considerations to keep in mind when planning your getaway.

Really Truly Get Away

Person relaxing lying in Hammock at rural cottage garden female legs green flora and wooden hut on background

The chief goal of your weekend getaway is to do just that: get away! So turn on your “out of office” auto response and turn off all your gadgets. Save for the odd emergency, do any messages in your inbox absolutely require an immediate response? Take an email breather and leave the back-and-forth for when you go back. You may even want to remove or mute some apps while you’re traveling. Obviously, certain apps can help you manage your time, find the best restaurants, and book activities, but do you really need to tweet about how amazing Hawaii is every five minutes or post so many Iceland photos on Instagram as you go along? Learn to chill out — you’re on vacation!

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Go It Alone

Solo travelers know that the best way to dig into a destination can be to go there by yourself. Going somewhere on your own means going on your own terms, without comprise and with the sort of flexibility that allows you to “do you” and come back home ready to cooperate with family, friends, and colleagues with fresh perspective. TIP: New York is a great destination for an entertaining getaway oozing with “me” time.

Remember Why You Wanted to Go

Friends dancing in a lounge bar, with dj set

Your core concern during your trip should be the original reason that prompted you to plan your adventure. Were you exasperated or exhausted desperately dreaming of a restful holiday? Was there some special occasion drawing you to a place? Are you and a close friend hoping to catch up somewhere that interests you both? If you need to sleep, then sleep! Book yourself into a quiet resort – in, say, Jamaica – and put the “do not disturb” notice on your door and snooze your days away shuffling between bed and beach. But if you’re itching to dance the night away in Ibiza, don’t let anything get between you and the dance floor. Whatever you initially craved, make sure it stays central to your plans. In doing so you’ll return home refreshed and wishing to do it all again instead of wishing things had turned out differently.

Maximize Fun, Minimize Logistics

If you’re able to go away for only a night or two, you might want to consider visiting somewhere fairly close and hold off on the long-haul flights and bucket list destinations for when you have more time. The key to a fabulous weekend is maximizing how much time you spend having fun and minimizing everything else. Short-haul flights, city breaks, staycations, leisurely drives … these are your best bets when you don’t have many days to gamble with.

Comfort Zone, Schmomfort Zone

Bungee jumps, extreme and fun sport.

Going away you say? Then here’s your chance to go for it! Leave the comfort zone at home and allow yourself to have an adventure. Simply eating a spicier dish or a different wine than usually preferred might add up to adventure for some while a helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon or a whitewater rafting expedition in eastern Tennessee might do it for others. A weekend getaway can be more than simply an excuse to lounge around. Consider turning your time away into an opportunity to broaden your horizons and push the boundaries.

Build in Pre and Post Trip Time

When organizing for your weekend, don’t forget to include the buffer zones before and after your trip. Packing in a rush leads to leaving behind things that would have come in handy. Racing to the airport worried you might miss your flight is stressful. Returning to work on too little sleep depletes all the relaxation you stocked up on while away. It might seem lame to leave paradise a little early on Sunday but come Monday morning on your slog back to work you may be glad you did. Remembering to add extra prep time before a trip and some time to decompress afterwards may mean a world of difference in how things go during your trip and when you’re back home.

What’s most important to you when planning a weekend getaway? Tell us in the comments.

About The Author

Chris Osburn

Chris Osburn is a freelance writer, photographer, consultant, curator, and the driving force behind the long running and award winning blog, tikichris.com. Originally from the American Deep South, Chris has lived and worked all over the world. He's called London home since 2001.