This time next week I’ll be in Massachusetts. I really need to practice spelling it because it took me 4 tries to get it right.
Anyways, I am so excited about this little trip I have planned. I won’t have much time there, but I am ready to make the most of a short weekend getaway.
During my first year in Canada, I didn’t get to travel much. Compared to Europe, travel times and costs are higher here. I was used to weekend getaways that didn’t require catching a plane. Not only I visited a lot of interesting Italian cities, but also France, Switzerland, Austria, and Germany were all less than a 5 hours drive away. If I decided to catch a plane, it was usually very cheap. Like, remember when I flew to Amsterdam for less than 80€?
After a whole year in Toronto, the farthest I’ve gone was Buffalo, NY. By the end of last year, I felt like I saw most of what Toronto had to offer. Don’t get me wrong, I love this city and I still find a lot of new and beautiful places on a daily basis. But it started to feel less like a place I could explore and more and more like home. I missed the feeling of not knowing exactly where I was going, being in unfamiliar neighbourhoods, seeing new buildings and shops, trying new restaurants. Also, I have to admit that as much as I love modern art and architecture, I was kind of missing places with a lot of history.
Because of all these reasons, I decided to book a trip to Massachusetts’ capital even if I had just a long weekend. I had to accept that travelling in North America is different than travelling in Europe and I had to adapt to that. So I wrote a list of tips to remind myself how to make the most of a short weekend getaway.
Plan in advance to make the most of a short weekend getaway
Don’t go too far
My personal rule is that I won’t drive more than 3 hours if I’m going out of town for just one night. If it’s a long weekend (3 days), I would go as far as 5/6 hours, possibly with a stop in the middle. The same rule applies when flying. Personally, I don’t think it is worth to spend a lot of money on a long plane ride when you can stay at your destination for less than two whole days.
Save money to splurge on the trip
Short weekend getaways are usually more expensive than long-term, slow travel. Planes and hotels are more expensive during weekends. Since you don’t have a lot of time, you might want to get a central hotel. Also, you might want to splurge a little on Uber or taxis to visit everything that the place has to offer. Finally, eating out three times a day, visiting museums or attractions, and buying souvenirs might add to the tab.
Leave early and come back late
Arriving at your destination early in the morning will allow you to enjoy a whole day there. You’ll have to wake up early in the morning to either drive or go to the airport, but it is so worth it. Similarly, you should aim to book the latest flight back home.
Plan and prioritize
Before leaving for your weekend getaway, you should do some research. Make a list of the most interesting places and select the ones you really don’t want to miss. Then try to see where everything is on a map and have a plan on how to get there.
Prepare your carry-on two days before
Packing is my least favourite thing about travelling. I usually tend to overpack because of course I need three pairs of jeans for two days even if I use one pair for the whole week when I’m home. That definitely doesn’t go well with travelling just with a carry-on.
I’m trying to get better at that and I’m doing so by making lists. My weekend getaway carry-on packing list includes: 3 tops, 2 sweaters, 1 pair of comfortable jeans, thermal shirts and long johns, underwear, pyjamas, travel size toiletries, flip-flops, boots/shoes (for shorts trips I usually rely on my very old warm lined Dr. Martens as they are good for every type of weather). In my bag, I usually have: passport and other necessary documents, phone and camera, contact lenses and sunglasses, hand cream and lip balm, tissues, snacks, refillable water bottle.
How to make the most of a short weekend getaway
Get a hotel with early check-in or luggage storage
Even if you’re travelling very light, chances are you’ll bring at least a carry-on or a big and heavy backpack. As I said, you should fly to your destination early in the morning but most hotels don’t offer check-in before 2 in the afternoon. To avoid having to walk around the city with your luggage, confirm with the hotel that you’ll be able to leave your carry-on or backpack there for the day. If you are willing to pay extra money, ask for early check-in. If you use Booking, sometimes you can get it for free.
Wake up early
If you don’t have a lot of time, you definitely don’t want to spend half day in bed. Sure, you should wake up early to catch the earliest flight to your destination. But, if you want to make the most of your short weekend getaway, you should also wake up early every single morning you’re spending in the city you’re visiting. Especially if you’re travelling in winter, when there are fewer hours of daylight.
Eat breakfast and lunch on the go
Even though I am adjusting to the North American way of life, I still like to have all my meals at a table. When I’m travelling, though, I tend to eat lunch on the go. Especially if a location is famous for street food and markets, that is where I am headed for lunch. Not only you’ll get to enjoy some good local and authentic food, but you also get to visit the market or neighbourhood itself. If you’re taking a day trip within your weekend getaway, you can use the time on the bus/car/train/boat to have breakfast before reaching your destination.
Put your phone away and enjoy your short weekend getaway. I usually waste so much time scrolling through Instagram and Facebook when I’m home. I’m literally checking my social media as soon as I wake up, while I eat breakfast, on my breaks at school and placement, while commuting to work, as soon as I get home from work, during dinner, and especially before bed. When I’m away for a shorter period of time, I try to limit my social media usage to right before bed. Unless I see something very cool and I need to do an Insta story. In addition, because I like to travel light, if I am away for just a few days, I never bring my laptop with me so I’m not even tempted to use it.
Honestly, one of the things I love the most about solo travelling is how much time you save. Not only you don’t have to wait for other people to get ready in the morning, or to go use the washroom eighteen times in a day, you will also save so much time when making decisions.
Don’t stress too much
The goal of a short weekend getaway should be to visit a new place and have fun there. Don’t think too much about how short the weekend will be. Try and enjoy your time at your destination. The good thing about weekend getaways is that the destination isn’t too far away. If you’re not able to do everything in one sitting, you can always go back on the next long weekend.
How do you make the most of a short weekend getaway?