There's something to be said for meticulously planning a holiday escape, picking the right place, the right time, and then going for it. There's something else for just getting out of dodge after a long, awful week. Here are some tricks to make the latter as luxurious as possible.
10. Don't Resign Yourself to Sky High "Last Minute" Prices
Just because your last-minute getaway is, by definition, last-minute doesn't mean you can't put a little effort into making sure you're doing something that will actually recharge you. Whether you book a hotel and fly out of town or just hop in the car and go see a local sight and come back to sleep in your own bed, think a little bit about what you want to do.
It doesn't have to be pricey and sometimes being a tourist in your own town -- staying at a local hotel in the off season, checking out a nearby bed and breakfast or nearby parks or museums -- is just as solid a getaway and a refresher.
Besides, last minute travel doesn't have to be expensive and technology can help you snag a deal. That said, any lead time is good lead time, even if it's a few hours on Friday before you make a weekend break for it, or if it's 2pm on Wednesday and you're thinking about calling out sick the next few days to beat feet for sunnier shores.
9. Choose The Perfect Sudden-Getaway Destination
Obviously, the first step is to decide where you'd like to go. This is where money and time come into play, but money maybe a little less so than you might think. If you're sticking close to home, well, that's easy, but make sure to try something in your community you've never done, or always wanted to do.
If you're taking a flight, well, the sky -- and your wallet -- is the limit. Just make sure you can get there and back in time, get through airport security in good order and of course, have a little fun while you're waiting for your flight.
8. Get a Great Deal on Last-Minute Transportation
Now that you have a destination selected, you have to get there, and ideally you'd like to get there with enough money left in your pocket to actually enjoy your stay. Sounds difficult, but it's not. If you're planning on flying, there are lots of ways to save on airfare. You could stick to the big discount airfare finders or Google Flights (and try these Google Flights tips to save some money).
Don't overlook the power of buses and trains. They're more affordable and often way more comfortable than flying or driving, and they're extremely underrated. Sites like BusBud (which we've mentioned before) can save you on bus or train tickets.
7. Find a Bargain on a Place to Stay, Even the Same Night
OK, it's the middle of afternoon and you have a plan, a destination and a way to get there. Now you need a place to lay your head when you get out of town. Services like HotelTonight, which we've highlighted a few times, can score you a great deal on a hotel room just about anytime you want to book, but especially at the last minute. If you're OK staying in someone's place, maybe you can grab a great place on Airbnb (just don't get screwed.)
Either way, a service like All the Rooms can compare hotels and Airbnbs for you to save you money, even if it's a last minute trip. Best of all, all of them are friendly to last-minute travellers, so you don't need to book months and months in advance to find something comfortable -- even luxurious -- that will fit in your budget.
Of course, if you plan your escape as a staycation, you can just sleep at home, but where's the fun in that?
6. Learn Everything You Need to Know Before You Leave
Ideally you know what you want to do when you get to your destination, but that doesn't mean you'll know your way around, or know how to get from place to place. You don't need to go through the whole list while you sit on the plane, bus, or train on the way to your relaxing getaway, but spend a little time getting to know your destination before you go.
You can even use Street View to play a video of your travel route, or just to help you get from a hotel to a specific destination. Dig around and look for local spots to eat, drink, and relax. When you find some good candidates, look them up on Google to see what the locals are saying about them and what to have when you're there.
The more you can learn on the way there -- or even before you leave -- the more prepared you'll be to just get out and have a great time when you arrive.
After all, you won't have a ton of time to explore, and half the fun of a last-minute getaway is getting away and getting right to the fun stuff. How awesome would be it be to walk off the plane and right into a well-loved bar and enjoy drink, knowing only a few hours ago you were slaving away at a desk? So awesome.
5. Find Something Awesome to Do There, While You Travel
Almost every community, even the small ones, are brimming with things to do. Look around your destination for local museums and parks that you can explore, or if you're headed to a well-known destination, see if you can squeeze in some of the most popular sites before you have to head back.
If you're headed to a smaller town, or one where you're not sure where to look for events, Facebook can help you find nearby events once you get there. Don't forget to check Yelp while you're at it -- their Weekly Yelp newsletter is usually designed for people who live in a community, but you can read it too, just choose your city. Local events and festivals are often included.
Similarly, check local blogs -- they almost always have posts detailing the most anticipated local events, how much they cost to get into, hours and everything you need to know, as well as comments from locals telling you if they're even worth your precious time.
4. Relax and Unwind Like a Local
Oh and don't forget to splurge on breakfast -- it will get you out of your accommodations and exploring your vicinity. You'll have a much better time overall.
This is the fun part -- you're on holiday. It may have been mere hours ago you were at work, wondering if you'd even have time to relax ever again, or maybe you're taking advantage of a long weekend, but you have to be back at work on Monday.
Let all that go and have a stress-free, couldn't give a crap about work trip. Give yourself something relaxing to do first, so you recharge a bit and do more active stuff later.
3. Make the Most of Your Time There
Last-minute holidays come with the adrenaline of getting out of town, scoring a deal on a place to stay and all the rush and hassle of making a break for it and finding yourself away from the daily grind and in a relaxing (or maybe exciting) setting. Now it's time to relax a little bit though -- we mean really relax -- and don't overbook yourself.
You might be tempted to try and cram everything you possibly can do or have wanted to do, but pick just a few things and make them the big priorities on your calendar. Use an app like TripIt (or one of these travel planning apps) Even if your last minute getaway is actually a week (or better yet, 10 days) long, you still don't want to let the rush of getting out of town carry over into your schedule -- after all, it's a holiday!
An itinerary is good, but it shouldn't feel like work.
2. Get Home in One Piece
Once it's time to pack your things and head home, double check all of your reservations, tickets, or anything else you'll need to make sure you get home in good order. If you saved a bunch of money on a one-way plane or train ticket, now's the time to repeat the last-minute booking process and make sure you have a way to get home quickly.
A holiday is nice, but the last thing you want is to be stuck in your dream destination without an easy way home -- or worse, a place to stay. Sadly last-minute and discount travel services are often some of the most prone to errors, cancellations and other issues, so it will pay to make sure everything is on the up and up before you pack up and get ready to head home.
1. Do It All Over Again (and Plan This Time)
Once you're home safely, go ahead and unpack, take a load off, and get ready to get back to the grind. You can hit the ground running, but you don't need to stress yourself out in the process.
You may also, as soon as you set foot back in the office or sit down at your desk, feel those post-holiday blues coming on. They're not impossible to beat, but remember, as soon as you're back from one holiday is a great time to start planning the next one.
If you can, don't settle for last minute next time, even if you love the adrenaline rush. Take your time, take a few desktop holidays when you need to de-stress and then ">plan your dream trip for the next time you need to get out of town.
That way you'll appreciate the process as much as the actual trip itself.