It's no secret that I love three-day weekends at home. Something about an extra day out of the office just makes me content, as the French say. But while catching up on household chores, family errands, and personal projects is much needed once in a while, a well-planned getaway should also be part of your three-day weekend mix.
Caruso's are natural explorers so Nicole, Cecilia and I decided to use Labor Day weekend to explore Charlottesville, VA. It had been on our bucket list of places to go since last Christmas when I included an I.O.U. for a trip there as a family stocking stuffer. After months of the usual excuses of time and money, we finally made the long overdue trip. It turned out better than we had imagined, thanks mostly to Nicole's superb planning skills. I immediately fell in love with the colonial Southwestern Virginia town and weekend getaways in general.
Here are some tips I jotted down about the trip to help you make the most out of your next three-day family getaway.
BEFORE YOU GO
Agree on a destination at least the month prior. As a bachelor, planning for a three-day weekend started with my friends on Tuesday or Wednesday of the same week. Family life is not quite so flexible, so I recommend planning a weekend getaway no less than a month in advance, preferably three months if possible. Giving yourself plenty of lead time enables you to block off the three-day weekend on your calendar far in advance to ensure that nothing comes between you and your much needed adventure.
Consider a home stay. Some of our most relaxing weekends away were spent in AirBnB's in locales like New York and Washington., D.C. where hotels can be expensive. For us, spending $125 per night for a home stay where we have a full kitchen is worth every penny. While AirBnB can be cheaper than a hotel, it’s not the only site out there so you definitely want to shop around. We booked a cute little bungalow in downtown Charlottesville using Home Away.
Include the kids in the trip planning. Early planning also gives you and you kids something to look forward to that is fun and engaging. Including them in planning some of the activities can be a great way to keep their interest levels high, even at a young age. This also helps avoid overloading the weekend away with stuff only you and your spouse will enjoy.
Pack the car the day before and get on the road early. On such a short trip time is of the essence, so I like to get out the door bright and early. To expedite our escape, we try to have the non-perishables like suitcases and toys packed in the car the day before departure. It sounds like an excessively simple step, but you would be surprised how many people don't take the time to check this box. Remember, the sooner you're packed, the sooner you leave, and the sooner you arrive.
Take lots of pictures. I'm always surprised how fast three-day weekend getaways come and go. It's like you blink and you're back home already. For me, it's especially important to snap lots of photos during the weekend getaway so the quick turnaround doesn't become a blur in the family's collective memory. As a bonus, try to also capture some family video. Remember, you can always delete files later.
Stay consistent. We don't take the weekly non-negotiables off the calendar just because we're going away. We schedule our trip around them. If you and your spouse have date night every Friday and need that time each week to catch up, do your best to stick to it. For us, Sunday Mass is our anchor and source of strength as a family. So when we travel we make sure to check the local listings in advance for a service that fits our travel plans. Staying consistent in your normal weekly commitments will keep your family grounded and make your return to your home routine a bit easier when the three-day adventure is done.
I hope these tips help you get the most out of your next getaway. Start planning now because the next three-day is just around the corner. As always, feel free to leave a comment below to let me know where you’re headed or share additional tips.