It’s an age-old problem: You’ve been hit with a case of wanderlust. The moment it strikes, there’s no turning back. It’s all daydreams of beach escapes and cozy hideaways, of passports and highways that lead anywhere and everywhere. But not every trip can be a glamorous jaunt across countries, so what to do when you can only manage a few days’ vacation? Sounds like the perfect time for a weekend getaway!

I’m lucky enough to have a boyfriend and a group of gals who share my love for spontaneity, and humor my sometimes far-fetched ideas for a weekend adventure. Together we’ve tackled everything from a hike up Enchanted Rock, to a last-minute road trip to Wurstfest in New Braunfels, to an afternoon by the Riverwalk in San Antonio. I’m a firm believer that no journey is too small to be called an adventure. You just need the right people by your side, and a few tricks in your pocket to turn any short getaway into an unforgettable experience.

And who better to ask for travel tips than two of our own jet-setting mavens? I picked the brains of our editors Chanel and Jennifer Rose, who have a knack for road tripping in style and returning with a suitcase-full of stories. Click through for their top tips on making the most of a weekend away…and a few of my own for good measure!

image from Show Me Your MuMu

Add some unexpected destinations to your list.

Chanel – Last year I traveled to the North Woods of Wisconsin for a close friend’s wedding – a destination I’d never consider traveling to if I didn’t have friends leading the way. But as it turns out, it’s a pretty amazing part of the country. New York, LA and Miami aren’t going anywhere, so I always take up an opportunity to explore somewhere unexpected.

I’ve had a trip Maine on my wish list for years, because it seems to be a wild, beautiful state that is always overlooked. Yes, there are the heavy hitters: Chicago, New York, Colorado, etc…but don’t underestimate the magic of a city untouched by tourism. Imagine traveling to a new place and being the first to discover its best restaurants, the charming nightlife activities…a trip of your own yet to be documented in any travel guide. You can find beauty and adventure around every corner, so take the chance to visit a few places you may not have thought to explore before.

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Get inspired.

Jenn- Follow cool hoteliers and travelers on Instagram to discover secret hotels and new dining spots.

This is one tip I put into practice almost immediately…Thanks Jenn! My social feeds are inundated with baking inspiration, New Yorker cartoons and my favorite style bloggers, but I’ve recently taken to following travelers as well. They post many a picture of quaint, scenic and off-the-beaten-path spots I can’t wait to add to my list. (Carin Olsson and Kate McCulley always leave me dreaming of my next getaway, and I’ve taken more than a few of their posts straight to my itinerary.)

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Trust in TripAdvisor.

Chanel – Use it to your advantage, and be sure to check out the “Room Tips” for each hotel. It’s an underutilized tool on the site that can mean the difference between a “decent stay” and an “unforgettable hotel experience.” 

I couldn’t agree more! And on that note, don’t be afraid to go smaller. Some of my favorite hotel stays have been in quaint neighborhood B&B’s that may have lacked a five-star spa, but made up for it with a charming afternoon tea.

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Direct flights only!

Jenn- If you only have 3 or 4 days, it’s imperative to limit travel time as much as possible.

Chanel – I definitely concur on the direct flights…It’s the only way!

Delays, cancellations, long layovers? Pardon the cliché, but “Ain’t nobody got time for that.” When it comes to short weekend trips, the last thing you want is to spend half your time in and out of airports. Cut down on travel time and fly direct whenever possible. It’s worth the splurge.

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Wake up early.

I know, I know. If you’re a night owl like me, you’re cringing at those words. But trust me on this! On any given day at home, I cherish every last moment under my covers before I have to get up and start the day. But on a weekend away, albeit a short one, I set my alarm a few hours earlier. There is something so charming about mornings in a new place. It lets you take a peaceful glimpse around you without any distractions…before the rest of the world starts stirring. So take an early morning stroll, set off on a run around your hotel, or catch the sunrise from your balcony with a cup of coffee. Just take a moment to enjoy the start of the day, and it will surely be a good start to all the adventures that follow.

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Shop local.

I always try to bring something back with me from each trip I take. Sometimes it’s a necklace or a painting, sometimes it’s an overcoat purchased out of desperation and a poorly thought-out packing list. (True story…can you tell?) I so enjoy finding a piece I love that carries a story along with it. That overcoat still makes me smile every time I pull it out of my closet! So save a bit of room in your weekender, and set aside some time to explore the local boutiques and markets before your trip home, and look for something that makes you smile.

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Leave some moments unplanned.

Chanel – When I first started planning vacations, I would reserve tables at best-of-the-best restaurants until every meal was accounted for. But our trip to Greece last summer put an end to all that. We had the best meal of our lives at a seaside restaurant that, frankly, looked just like the half-dozen other spots on the beach. Out of desperation we grabbed a table at the closest place, and what-do-you-know, an unforgettable food experience we never could have planned.

Jenn – It was my first time in Paris and my boyfriend and I were outside in line for the Louvre… It was freezing cold and pouring down rain. We decided to ditch the line and head to the Hotel Costes, to satisfy my curiosity sparked by a beautiful photo I’d seen on Instagram. It ended up being the best day. We spent all afternoon at the underground pool and then enjoyed a long dinner in the candlelit bar. Later some locals tipped us off to skip the Louvre altogether and visit the Musée Jacquemart-André, where we stood right in front of a Renoir with no one else in the room. Paris is magic, but you have to let it happen.

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The life lesson here? Stay open to a change of plans. Leave some gaps in your itinerary, and be a little spontaneous. I’ve found that those unplanned hours are often the most memorable!

Got any last-minute getaways on the agenda?

Let us know how you’ll be making the most of every moment in the comments!

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Emily Boyd