As a busy traveler, it is super important to plan your vacation time well, and weekend getaways are an amazing way to fuel your wanderlust! In this post, we will show you how to plan a weekend trip effortlessly and discover something new each time!
Salil and I love our quick weekend trips, and Banff National Park and Calgary are our go-to places from home. Every now and then, we also add in the extra day (thanks to long weekends in Alberta Canada) to travel to the United States and even Europe!
Follow our steps to craft a flawless weekend getaway!
Have limited vacation days? Grab our 12-page weekend travel planner and checklist to utilize your vacation time wisely. We are pros at crafting quick getaways and effective itineraries in making the most of our trip, each time.
How to plan a weekend trip – Step by step guide
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you click one of them, we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.
Step 1 – When do you want to travel?
First step is to decide when you plan on traveling, and that will determine your packing and travel gear, accommodation arrangement or advance booking and getting permits at National or State Parks.
Many of our friends love to be out and about in the summer weekends, and they keep a weekend bag ready. We like to do it once a month at least, so we have our bag always on standby.
But winter driving in Canada can be challenging, and summer trips mean booking things in advance (and also waking up early). So have a rough plan ‘when’ would you like to travel.
Step 2 – Deciding on the destination
Once you have decided when you are traveling, it’s time to choose destinations.
We love to discover new places, near or far doesn’t matter (hence the name – To-Some-Place-New). You can pick a place based on your bucket list or an inspiration you found online.
Depending on where you live, and where you want to go here is how you can narrow down
- Sister cities or towns located 2-3 hours drive one way from your home
- Unexplored places near home about a short distance away
- National, provincial or state parks near your home (let’s explore own backyard)
- Easy and affordable flights from your hometown to another city/country
Need destination ideas in the USA? Grab this colorful inspirational book of trips by the Lonely Planet
Step 3 – Budgeting for your trip
Budgeting for a trip is super important to make your getaway stress-free, without having to worry about money.
Weekend trips close to your home town will be cheaper. But it is also possible to snag a great flight and hotel deal sometimes, like our weekend trip to Las Vegas from Canada.
For a 2 to 3 day trip, set aside a budget for accommodation, food and attractions/activities. Budget for the following
- City or town getaway: Flight/car gas, hotel, food, museum tickets/attractions/spa packages
- National Parks or camping: Flight/car gas, hotel/ buy tent or sleeping bag, camp permit, park fees
Weekend Travel Guides & Getaways
Step 4 – Check your car for the trip or book flight tickets
To ensure your weekend vacation commences without a hitch, book a car check up (if driving or embarking on a road trip). It is a good idea to also check your insurance papers and driver’s licence. Download offline maps or update navigation systems/GPS to prepare for your trip.
If you are flying, check your passport (ensure it’s current) and book your flight tickets.
Step 5 – Accommodation Planning
The next step is to book/reserve accommodation. Here are some tips to help you decide, and pick the right option
- Romantic Getaway: Opt for a luxurious suite in a 4+ star hotel or villa. If you love the outdoors go glamping or turn your tent into an amazing staycation
- Family and Groups: Camping or book an apartment-style hotel/Airbnb so that kids can move around. Apartment-style hotels are great for a friends getaway, as you will be able to cook and do your own thing.
- Parks: For camping or time at the parks, remember to pack your tent and make reservations ahead of camping season (if required)
Step 6 – Itinerary Planning for the weekend
To plan a 2 – 3 day itinerary, factor in the travel time. If you are driving to the destination, we recommend starting out early. We love sunrises and driving through the city in the morning, to beat the rush.
This is also true if you are taking a flight for a weekend getaway. Opt for a red-eye flight the day before (Friday evening) or an early morning flight to maximize travel time.
On day 1, opt for daytime sightseeing and add an evening activity or night tour. If you are camping, set up your tent, and get comfortable. Go on walks or short hikes.
On day 2, choose something offbeat like a cooking class, explore a local museum or a flea market. Hit the outdoors – canoe, bike or a farm!
In the evening drive back home. If staying overnight, plan a nice dinner out.
Step 7 – Book tours, activities, get camping permits in advance
To ensure you maximize your travel time, book tours and tickets to attractions ahead of time and online. That way you are not wasting time in figuring out directions or waiting in line.
When we spent a weekend in Seville, we were surprised how long the lines were at their attractions, even during the off-season. We always book tickets online to save both time and money, and we Seville was no different.
Many national parks open up campgrounds for reservations at least 30 days prior to the camping season. So reserve your spots online and ahead of time.
Step 8 – Packing for a weekend getaway
I love packing, and even if I am traveling for 2-3 days I pack ahead of time. It keeps me excited during my work week, and there is always something to look forward to. Click to view a detailed packing list
So in terms of packing, here is a list of items.
ESSENTIAL CLOTHING & SHOES
- Comfortable shoes – Shoes are important, it doesn’t matter how long or short the travel time is. I am in love with my KEEN shoes, super comfortable. It is made up of breathable material and doesn’t stink after days of wear! Click to view my favorite pair from KEEN
- 2 sets of clothes for each day – Comfortable tops and pants/shorts
- Pack a pretty dress or top for Saturday night out
- Lightweight jacket
- Undergarments and nightwear
- 2 pairs of socks
- Toiletry Bag with all of your essentials – I pack my skincare routine as normal like moisturizer, sunscreen, lipgloss, and 2 lipstick, lightweight foundation, eye pencil, compact powder. Here is a nice toiletry pouch to use.
For a weekend trip, a backpack or a duffel bag of 30-32 liters is a good size. You don’t need a size bigger than that. A daypack size, at 25 liters is also a good idea. Salil uses a 25 L size backpack.
I like to use a weekender bag, which is smaller than my travel backpack, and fits my clothes, makeup bag and a small tablet or Kindle.
Don’t forget your electronics!
- Camera: We are currently using our Sony a7iii on our weekend trips, and love it. There is a learning curve but we are enjoying it so far. Click to view Sony a7iii
- In the past, we enjoyed taking pictures from our lightweight and mirrorless Sony A6000 and our iPhones. Click to view prices for Sony A6000.
- Pack a phone charger, preferably something with a multi-port charger so that you can change your iPhones, Android tablets/Kindle, etc. Buy a multiport charger here
- Kindle: We love to read books on our Kindle. Grab the new Kindle e-Reader here, and read unlimited books!
- Leave your work laptop! It’s time to rejuvenate
To maximize sightseeing carry some healthy snacks with you so that you can explore places and eat healthily. Click to view this awesome care package to take with you on road trips and weekend getaways.
Bonus: Travel tips for weekend getaways
Weekends are a time to disconnect and reconnect.
Keep your phone and work laptop away. Rewind, connect with your soul, and rejuvenate.
We have been embarking on weekend getaways for years now. With our busy work schedules, weekends away are always treasured by us. It is our time for us to connect with each other, and enjoy and relax in the lap of nature. No wonder we love going to the Canadian Rockies every other weekend, winters included.
Remember these getaways are also an amazing time to get in touch with friends and family. So invite them to join you.
We hope you found this post useful. You can grab a copy of weekend trip planner and a packing list below