Mastering the weekend getaway

Most people (who haven’t yet retired) think that retirement is all about long holidays and relaxed days at home. Not so. One of the things they don’t tell you about retirement is that post-work life can often be as busy, if not busier, than it was when you worked full time.

A life of caring, looking after grandkids, keeping things in order at home, volunteering, socialising, self-maintenance and so on means there is often very little time for long trips. That’s where the weekend getaway can be a saviour. Even better, is the two-night midweek getaway, when you can take advantage of cheaper room and car hire rates, and flights. 

Longer doesn’t always mean better or more relaxing. Short breaks can be cheaper and, if done right, just as rewarding as long holidays, if not more. And you can have them more often!

Here are seven tips to master the weekend (or two-night) getaway.

Switch off
Unless you really need to stay in touch with family or friends, switch off your phone, or at least resist the urge to ‘check in’. If you do need to be contactable, you can always use the ‘Do not disturb’ feature on your smartphone.

On your Android device, swipe down from the top of your screen and select the ‘Do not disturb’ icon. Hold the ‘Do not disturb’ icon to go into the Settings menu where you’ll see three sections: Behavior, Exceptions, and Schedule.

In Exceptions, you can configure exactly who can reach you while ‘Do not disturb’ is turned on. Select starred contacts only and make sure you have those ‘preferred’ people starred in the Contacts app of your phone. If someone who is not on your starred contacts list really wants to get through to you, there is a setting to allow repeat callers through.

To turn on ‘Do not disturb’ on your iPhone, swipe up from the bottom of your screen and tap the crescent moon shape. To allow favourites to get through to you, tap on ‘Settings’ > ‘Do not disturb’, then scroll down to ‘Allow calls from’ and select ‘Favourites’. To select your favourites, go to your phone’s Contacts app, select a contact and make them a favourite. The iPhone also allows repeat callers to get through.

Have a purpose
Base your weekend around an event or special occasion. It may be a live concert, flower show, festival or to tackle a long hike. Once your weekend is finished, you’ll feel you have achieved something and not have just ‘wasted time’.

Leave your life at home
Pack light and casual, leave the laptop at home and go with the essentials only. You don’t need a new outfit for each day – embrace holiday mode. Take minimal clothes and shoes, toiletries and a good book or a crossword or puzzle book of some description (puzzles are also a good distraction from life back home). 

Eat your way around
Choose local bakeries and cute cafés, and pick up produce from farmer’s markets and delicatessens for picnics. Eat local, experience the village pub, and ask the residents where they like to eat. If you include your first night’s meal, you have seven opportunities for an edible journey before you return home to your own kitchen. Who knows, the experience may well inspire your menu for weeks to come.

Don’t forget the fitness
Long walks and brisk bike rides are more fun on holiday, and make for an ideal excuse to incorporate some fitness into your life. You may even continue the theme on your return.

Say ‘yes’
A traffic jam could turn into a pitstop that kickstarts the fun of a short break. A road block could lead to a turn down a laneway revealing your new favourite restaurant. An invitation to join strangers at a bar could turn into a lifelong friendship. Saying ‘yes’ more often can open doors to more opportunities for fun and an enriching experience – and life.  

Give yourself some breathing room
While it may seem simple to fill a weekend with activities and sight-seeing, it’s also just as important to ensure you have sufficient downtime. That’s where the novel or puzzle book comes into play. And don’t be guilted into getting up early in the morning. Order room service. Enjoy your weekend ‘off the clock’. Also, if you’re really enjoying yourself, why not take an extra day? 

What are your tips for the perfect weekend getaway?

Related articles:
Weekend travel checklist

How to pack for a winter weekend
How not to do a weekend away

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