8. Travel in a shoulder season.
Shoulder season—the period of time nestled between peak and off-peak travel seasons—usually means you’ll save money, which is nice, but smaller crowds should also mean shorter lines at any attraction you want to experience.
9. Make your own (virtual) map.
Having a list of recommended restaurants, shops, and attractions is fine, but when you’re in an unfamiliar city, a list of addresses isn’t much of a time-saver. Plot the whole list on a map you can access from your smartphone—create a custom Google Map, use a purpose-built app like TripDoc, or build your own map or TripTik for free with the AAA Mobile app. When you’re hungry or you’ve just left one museum and want to know what’s next, open the map and the blue dot will tell you what’s nearby in each application.
10. Be direct.
It probably goes without saying that choosing direct flights for short weekend trips is the way to go (layovers are enormous time-sucks), but being direct is about more than flying. You might otherwise be inclined to use local transport to get around, but hitting all those bus stops before finally arriving at yours keeps you from enjoying the city. Spend a little more on a taxi (or a private ride share) from the airport to your hotel and any longer trips during your stay.
11. Adjust your work schedule.
If you’ve got a job that allows for some scheduling leeway, see if you can come in on a Saturday in exchange for taking the next Friday off (for instance). That way, you get both a three-day weekend and the ability to leave Thursday after work, thereby avoiding Friday evening traffic jams.
12. Don’t think of weekend trips as inferior.
The fastest way to be disappointed by a weekend getaway is to think of it as something other than a “real” trip. Sure, you’d get to see and do more if you had two weeks instead of two days, but a 48-hour getaway is better than no getaway at all. Prioritize what you want to get out of your weekend away, and plan to pick up where you left off the next time you visit.