Need to plan a spring weekend getaway that doesn’t leave you tired, bloated, chapped and out of cash? Learn from my mistakes and make it happen!
I recently went on a long-weekend adventure, from my sunny home in Florida to a place that still snows in April: Vermont. Adventure might sound like an overstatement, but in battling everything from summer tornadoes resulting in power outages on the Florida end of my travels to winter storms resulting in muddy, icy dirt roads up in the Green Mountain State, I feel “adventure” is the well-suited term.
Despite my usual knack for planning ahead, being efficient and preserving my bank account, the last-minute nature of this adventure and some unpredictable conditions made me fumble. As much fun as I had, I came home tired, grumpy, fat (literally couldn’t fit into my suit pants in just 3 days!) and somewhat broke. Instead of giving “how-to” advice like my usual posts, I feel this warrants some “what NOT to do” advice so you can plan a more refreshing getaway!
1. DO look at the weather before planning your trip. It may sound simple but if you’re planning a far-away getaway you may make some assumptions about the seasonal conditions you’re not qualified to make (i.e. assuming that even Vermont doesn’t get snow in April). If driving or booking a last-minute flight, check the 10-day forecast and plan accordingly. If planning far in advance, look up the monthly averages on Wikipedia or a weather site and try to make a good judgement on when to go…or at least invest in a flexible term flight so you can change things if bad weather arises!
2. DO take the time to check more than one travel site. Expedia might have the catchy jingle, but you can often find better deals on Jetblue or Hotwire.com, which fills empty seats and hotel rooms at a majorly discounted price. Normally I would do this…yeah, well this time I forgot and in hindsight paid quite a premium on my flight AND hotel in return.
3. DON’T schedule the last flight of the day the night before you return to work. I was so eager to make the most of my vacation that I booked the last flight out of Vermont on Sunday night, knowing that despite my midnight arrival with tons of last-minute errands to do before bed, I had to get up at 6am to go to work the next day. Even worse, we didn’t even want to spend that extra time there in the end; we were so beat, we got to the airport early and almost spent $100 each on an earlier flight. What an awful idea! Yes, we’re young and springy but dangit, vacations are tiring and going back to work the next day is hard enough on 8 hours of sleep! Between that start to the week and playing catch-up at work and at home, it took a full week to recover.
4. DO pack light. I will say the best thing I did all weekend was pack extremely light. I fit everything into a large handbag by coordinating every piece of clothing and accessory with the color of shoes I wanted to bring (I know, what a girl thing to do). I also ditched the blow-drier despite my hatred of the weak hotel ones because I figured I could deal for a couple of days. And, I packed travel everything, including a travel palette of makeup, again sacrificing my ideal morning routine for no checked baggage fees and an easy car-to-plane-to-hotel-to-car-to-plane-to-car transfer (see how much work it is? It’s worth the sacrifices!)
5. DO pack healthy snacks. Usually I would bring homemade trail mix, a banana…at least some sort of wholesomeish snack, to save money and time and feel normal all weekend. This time, my flight was at 6am and my brain had not yet been caffeinated. I ran out the door thinking, “Eh, the airport has to have some healthy treats these days…” Well, maybe some airports, but unless you have an hour to kill at a sit-down place, most of the options I found were bad bad bad. I ended up eating a plain bagel (HUGE, with fully-white flour) and sick looking banana as my healthiest airport meal…and a burnt old piece of pizza for my worst. I didn’t feel right all weekend from the latter, and ended up paying a total of $20 just for those two “meals” versus the $3 or so I could have spent on brought food.
6. DON’T “treat yourself” to bad-for-you restaurant choices. It’s so tempting to say, ” Hey, I’m on vacation!” and order whatever the heck you want. Usually I try to limit it to just a dessert one night or choose an expensive but healthy meal I wouldn’t normally allow myself to buy, but this time I was grumpy from my flight problems, and both feeling bad and craving junk from my stale pizza. So, I followed up my airport feast with garlic bread, overly cheese pasta, cowpie cookies, waffles from a batter dispensing machine…oh my. The thing is, it didn’t feel like a “treat” at all. Since I normally eat at least 50% better than that at home, it just made me feel sick, tired and bloated, which limited my desires to walk around town and enjoy myself.
7. DON’T overdo it. With so little time so much to do, remember that part of the reason you’re traveling is to get away from stress, not induce it! We saw a total of 5 towns in 3 days, and while I’m glad we got to see it all, I wish we’d eliminated one town or a couple events to just relax on a bench by the lake or even veg out in the hotel room for a couple hours. Maybe if we’d done this and eaten better we wouldn’t have pooped out at 2pm on the last day and hung out in the dirty airport for 4 hours just to sit for awhile…
Any getaway-gone-wrong stories or tips to share?