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Take your long weekend to the next level with these travel tips

Everyone loves a two-week jaunt through another continent. But let's be real: The opportunity for something like that is rare when you’re juggling work, obligations, family, and friends. Not all vacations need to be epic journeys. What if we told you that a long weekend could be as fun, restful, and rejuvenating as two weeks drinking frozen cocktails on a beach halfway around the world?

But if you're going to opt for the long weekend route, you need to put some thought into how you can maximize the experience. With these seven travel tips, your long weekend will feel like an endless journey (in a good way).

Think ahead...or go last minute

You're going to want to plan. The more foresight you put into a long weekend, the better. Even downtime should be scheduled. So get out a calendar, look at some options, and try to book as far in advance as you can. Your emotional well-being—and your bank account —will thank you. Of course, there are also great deals on last-minute options, so if you're someone who's willing to live a little on the edge, you can always play the wait-and-see game: Monitor some spots on your wish list and pull the trigger if they’re open.

Build out a budget

Before you do too much planning, you're going to need to figure out how much you can spend . While this doesn't need to be exact—being too precise can be limiting—a ballpark is essential. Beyond a general idea of the total number, think about categories. Maybe you splurge on one fantastic meal and save on others or stay at a super nice hotel, but only hit up free museums. Whatever the model, a budget will keep you on track and give some structure to the trip planning. 

Planes, trains and automobiles

Transportation is key , both from a cost and timing perspective. If you're flying, try to avoid layovers, which add hours and increase the chance of missed connections. Taking a car? Keep the drive manageable and be realistic about traffic. There's nothing worse than that three-hour drive ballooning to five because you forgot about rush hour. Trains can be an excellent option, making the travel time productive and relaxing—no airport or TSA lines, sit back, and watch the landscape pass you by—but they can get pricey if not booked early.

Work and play

One way to turn that long weekend into an extra-long weekend? Get a bit of work done while you're chillaxing. Take that work-from-home vibe and transform it into a work-from-hotel (or rented apartment or tent or wherever). While "workcation" doesn't quite roll off the tongue, it can be an excellent getaway and a way to extend your stay and get to know the spot you’re visiting better—live like a local and work from a coffee shop on Monday. A little creativity and you've bought yourself another few days. Just make sure you check company policies or touch base with human resources to make sure you're approved to do this. 

Stay put

A long weekend trip is no time for multiple lodgings. Book one place and use it as your home base for the duration of the stay. Moving from place to place might seem tempting, but it's time consuming, energy intensive, and—with the uptick in cleaning and service fees at short-term apartment rentals—just not worth the effort. You'll be better served focusing on ways to get around quickly and efficiently rather than trying to spend individual nights in different areas.

A long weekend trip is no time for multiple lodgings. Book one place and use it as your home base for the duration of the stay.

Zoom in

You're not going to see all of a metropolitan area, a national park, even a mid-sized city in one weekend. So don't expect that you will, and don't sweat it when you don't. In the weeks leading up to your trip, make a list of half a dozen must-dos, then figure out how and when you'll get to all those experiences. (If they have tickets you can reserve, book tickets!) Make a separate list of activities you want to do near each must-do and hit them up as time permits. That list of activities will come in handy if you have time to kill between reservations. If you don't make them this time, you can always return.

Embrace serendipity

The best laid plans of mice and men—well, you know how that ends. Don't be afraid to go with the flow. The mezcal bar you walked by looks amazing? Pop in for a drink. A museum you didn't know about has an exhibit you think you'd enjoy? Hit it up. A friend posted a photo and happens to be in the same place? Slide into the DMs and meet up. Plans are meant to be broken. The best memories from your next long weekend just might be the ones you never would have considered in advance.

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