Ever since I heard Renée Zellweger as Bridget Jones utter the phrase “Weekend Mini Break” I have adopted it as my own. I love a weekend mini break (WEMB), the opportunity to step out of normal life for a couple of days. A WEMB can be anything from 1 night to 3. Any thing longer and I would suggest you are stepping into ‘short break’ territory. Anything less and it is clearly a day trip! The joy of a WEMB is that it can be much more accessible, not to mention affordable than a full blown holiday. I think to get the absolute most from these precious days away there are a few things you can do to make it the best it can be,
WHERE TO GO?
In the UK we are fortunate enough to be just a short flight or train journey from oodles of beautiful cites and other destinations . My ultimate WEMB is ideally spent in another country, but this I stress is absolutely not essential. The UK has plenty of options apart from the obvious capital cities. As an original Norfolk Girl, I highly recommend the North Norfolk Coast, with its vast beaches, big open spaces, pretty villages and towns, seafood and welcoming hostelries aplenty….just don’t tell everyone. A WEMB has to be easy to get to, spending most of you first precious day travelling is not ideal, unless its a train journey or something which can become part of your trip. On a recent post on the National Trust I advocated incorporating a visit to NT property as part of your journey.
A little bit. At least plan where you are going to stay. If staying in a city, it should be central enough that you can walk most places. However you don’t want to be near the busiest bar in town. I find guidebooks and travel blogs essential when planning where to stay. Airbnb has opened up a whole new world of places to stay that really can be a home from home. We have even booked a camper an on Airbnb.
Heavy, immovable bags do not make for a stress free trip. I am in no way qualified to tell anyone how to pack but I am learning that when it comes to travelling, the less is more attitude is definitely the right one. This probably comes back to planning. Know where you are staying, what the weather is likely to be like and what activities you are likely to do and pack accordingly. I have started to plan exactly what I will wear for each part of the trip and so I don’t take lots of unnecessary stuff which I don’t wear an just bring home again. This is very much a work in progress as my husband will testify! My one essential item of packing come summer or winter is a good sized scarf. On a chilly train or over air conditioned flight a good scarf comes into its own.
And by that I don’t mean a fleece and sandals (although of course if thats your thing, thats fine too). Think about what you are likely to be doing. A weekend city break rarely requires vertiginous heels. Don’t make the classic mistake of thinking because you are leaving UK shores it will be warm. European cities in winter can be on a par with British ones: Cold. Think about what you wear at home. Just because you are a tourist does not mean you should leave all sense of style at home. I live in London and even in the height of summer would not wear flip flops and a skinny vest on the tube so why do it else where. You will never not be spotted as a tourist, but you may be a little less obvious.
In Italy, think style. Always.
TAKE YOUR NOSE OUT OF THE GUIDE BOOK
I am a huge advocate of a guide book, I would never go away with out one. However, it is so easy to spend so long looking at it you forget to look up and see what is actually around you. Use guidebooks as just that a ‘guide’, not a set of rules about what you should and shouldn’t see. Wander, people watch, embrace the mundane. Step off the beaten track a little, and be prepared to be surprised. I have realised on a number of WEMB’s the last few hours before heading home can be the most satisfying. With no itinerary to follow and time to kill, it becomes easier to just wander. Also by this time confidence is probably high as you have become familiar with your location. This is a great time to be bold, be nosey, open doors. On the last morning of our recent trip to Florence we discovered an incredible nativity scene in a church we had walked past countless times without going in just a short meander from our hotel. We also had the best coffee of our whole trip in a little back street higgledy piggledy cafe.
STEP AWAY FROM THE TOURIST TRAIL
I’m not suggesting you ignore the big sights, those always mentioned in the top 10’s of must sees. Who would go to Paris for the first time and not go to the Eiffel Tower, or Venice and not go to St Marks Square. But, sometimes stepping away and spending a bit of time with the B or C listers of sights can help you understand the A listers.
So there you have it, my suggestions for how you can make the most of your next weekend mini break! Happy travels