This blog post was updated on June 3, 2022.

Got a free weekend coming up that you’re eager to turn into a few fun-filled days away? Play your cards right and you can achieve your ends easily and affordably. But, adding too much or too little to your itinerary could ruin your trip. Even worse, you may find yourself in greater need of a vacation – and with way less money – than before you went away. That’s why we’ve narrowed down some of the best tips for your mini vacation. For weekend warriors looking to make the most of a short trip without blowing their budgets or draining every last drop of energy, here are 10 practical considerations to keep in mind.

Set Aside a Travel Budget

Travel fund

Many people don’t take weekend trips simply because they think it’s out of their budget. But just as you would save for a longer vacation, you should try to stow away some funds for when you need a quick weekend escape. Having this accessible money will give you more spontaneity so that you can book weekend getaway deals and take a last-minute vacay when the opportunity presents itself. You should never let a limited budget stop you from seeing the world, especially when you need it the most. Plus, since weekend trips aren’t as long, they won’t be as costly.

Go It Alone

Woman on beach swing

If you’ve ever traveled solo before, you’ll most likely agree it’s one of the best ways to immerse yourself in a destination. Going somewhere on your own means going on your own terms, without compromise. (Travel companions always want to do stuff their way. Sheesh.) If you go solo, you’ll have the flexibility that allows you to do you. That way, you’ll come back home refreshed and ready to deal with family, friends, and colleagues with a new perspective. TIP: New York City is a great destination for an entertaining getaway with plenty of “me” time.

Remember Why You Wanted to Go

Friends traveling

Your core concern during your trip should be the original reason you decided to travel in the first place. What prompted you to plan your adventure? Were you burnt out, exhausted, and desperately dreaming of a break? 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? Tailor your trip based on your needs.

If you need to sleep, then sleep! Book yourself into a quiet resort – in, say, Jamaica – 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 rejuvenated and rested.

Maximize Fun, Minimize Logistics

If you’re able to go away for only a night or two, you may want to consider visiting somewhere fairly close. Save 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.

You may also enjoy: A Guide to Quick and Efficient Weekend Trip Packing

Comfort Zone, Schmomfort Zone

Woman zip-lining

Going away, you say? Then here’s your chance to go for it! Leave your comfort zone at home and allow yourself to have an adventure. Simply eating a spicier dish or a different wine than usual might be super adventurous for you, 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 your boundaries.

Build in Pre- and Post-Trip Time

When organizing your weekend adventure, don’t forget to include buffer zones before and after your trip. Packing in a rush leads to leaving important items behind. Don’t race to the airport or you’ll be stressed about missing your flight. Additionally, returning to work if you’re running on too little sleep will completely negate all the relaxation you stocked up on while you were gone. It might seem lame to leave paradise a little early on Sunday, but when early Monday morning inevitably arrives, you may be grateful you did. Remember to add extra prep time before your trip and some time to decompress afterward. It will mean a world of difference in how you feel before and after your trip.

Turn on Airplane Mode

Woman Using Phone

The airplane mode function on your smartphone is not just for traveling in the air. Setting your phone to airplane mode is a great travel hack if you want to limit interruptions while you’re away on your weekend trip. Doing this will ensure that you’re provided with the opportunity to truly unplug from the realities of life. There’s no point in getting away for a weekend if you’re going to spend the whole time on your phone dealing with business matters or scrolling through social media. By putting your phone on airplane mode, you can check in when it’s convenient for you. This will allow you to soak up the magic of a weekend getaway and spend time with the people who matter the most to you.

Pack Lightly

Pack light

It’s always tempting to overpack. However, it’s best to stay nimble, when you’re short on time. The goal of a weekend trip is to unwind and not have to worry about all the logistics. Too many clothes in your suitcase will simply bog you down. Start by making a list of your must-have items and go from there. The destination and weather will likely dictate what makes the cut. If you struggle with packing light, keep reminding yourself that you’re only going to be gone for a few days.

Plan Your Itinerary in Advance

Woman planning travel itinerary

While you may have more wiggle room in your itinerary on longer vacations, the time constraints of a weekend trip necessitate that you plan your itinerary in advance. This means that you should devote a bit of time leading up to the weekend to research potential points of interest at your destination so that you can maximize the little time you have. Be sure to prioritize attractions that have specific operating hours so that you’re not left disappointed because you didn’t plan your time wisely. This is also a good reminder to secure reservations if you know that you want to dine at a popular restaurant. Even if you tweak some of your plans when you arrive, you’ll never regret having a basic itinerary in mind to guide your decisions.

Ask Locals for Tips

Asking locals for help

As with any trip, the locals are often the best source of information. With such a short trip duration, you’re not going to want to waste time on attractions, sights, and restaurants that are just subpar. A local will steer you away from the tourist traps and give you tips that you can use to fully experience the culture of your destination. While it’s important to do your research ahead of time and have a general framework of an itinerary, don’t hesitate to switch gears at the advice of a local.

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

About The Author

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.