Extemporaneous weekend vacationing?
February 10, 2007 3:27 PM   Subscribe

Mini-vacation weekends? I want to spend my weekends having fun in various different cities. How to do this?

For work, I'm currently living out of hotels Monday through Friday, in Norfolk VA.

Rather than get a hotel on the weekends there, I'd just as soon spend the same money (or a little more) visiting interesting cities.

Since the actual destination doesn't matter, cheap last-minute flight deals would be ideal. The constraint is, they'd have to leave Friday afternoon/night and return Sunday night.

Alternately, what's local to Norfolk VA or within a few hours' drive?
posted by orthogonality to Travel & Transportation (9 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
You've an interesting idea - basically, you'll have to talk your way into being able to buy a one-way ticket now (Home->Norfolk), then buy round-trip tickets Fri-Sun (Norfolk->YYZ->Norfolk), and then one last round-trip ticket whenever the project is complete (Norfolk->Home). You'll probably have to pay for your weekend hotels out-of-pocket, but I don't see that being a problem.

What I do see being a problem are thinks like laundry, upkeep at home, etc. Of course, how much you can spend on those things depends on the nature of your project and how much money you have. Or did I misunderstand your situation, and they're not willing to ferry you home for the weekends? If so, that's highly unusual if they'll not pay for a proper apartment.

Anyway, I travel a ridiculous amount for work, and find Ask.Me to be an invaluable resource. My favorite cities, in no particular order: Honolulu, Toronto, Chicago. I hate: Phoenix (well, maybe it's not so bad on the weekends, but there's nothing M-F), Des Moines, anywhere in Nashville except Vandy campus.
posted by TheNewWazoo at 3:50 PM on February 10, 2007

I don't know what airport you're closest to, but you could play around with skyscanner to see what your discount airline options are.
posted by cmonkey at 4:36 PM on February 10, 2007

(Weekend Breaks from Washington, D.C, for example)
posted by cmonkey at 4:38 PM on February 10, 2007

Orbitz has a "last minute getaway" section on their site if you're not picky about destinations. They include a lot of standard touristy places but the flight + hotel deals aren't too terrible. Here are a few other sites that have similar last minute places to look: Expedia, Site59 and of course PriceLine. Some of the deciding factors are going to be whether you need a car at either end, how much of a hassle you are prepared to deal with in travelling and how comfy you are with picking up and leaving at a moment's notice. I've spent some time checking Kayak.com for fares to places I'm actually interested in (to keep an eye out for prices too good to ignore) and then sort of determining what's cheap when searching the other sites.

It's often easy to get a last minute CHEAP trip to Las Vegas, Orlando or Atlantic City, for example, and I think there are probably interestig things to see and do there besides the obvious, so some of it depends on how much you can just touch down someplace and see what it has to offer you. I've had decent luck with Priceline for hotels but you have to be really careful when bidding to make sure you are getting something near enough to airports or downtown. The website bidding for travel is a community site that helps you make the most of Priceline and give you a very good idea of what to bid and I've used it for car rental pricing as well.

I'd also suggest joining AAA or some other travel organization where you can get free maps, hotel guides and middle of the road middle america type travel advice. It may not always be what you're looking for, but it's good in a pinch, worth the small amount of cash and provides things like travel insurance under certain circumstances which is useful if you're away from home a lot and really need to get back to work.
posted by jessamyn at 5:20 PM on February 10, 2007 [3 favorites]

North Carolina's Outer Banks are nearby and a great place to visit. You might need to plan somewhat far ahead in the summer.

Shenandoah National Park is also not too far away.
posted by sevenless at 6:56 PM on February 10, 2007

VA's a beautiful state. Find a lover, take a drive. :)

Specifically, try northern VA. There are plenty of wineries clustered together making a visit to four or five in a single afternoon easy. I recommend staying at this great bed and breakfast where they drop a picnic basket filled with breakfast by your front door each morning. The Luray caverns are also close by.
posted by 10ch at 6:35 AM on February 11, 2007

As a well seasoned traveller, my advice to all is to plan about a month ahead. I usually pick Vegas, a beachy place like Miami, Cancun, etc., but for a closer option, there's always Toronto, Montreal, Boston, NYC!! After I've decided on the city, I always book at least one hotel because you can usually cancel 72 hours ahead of time. So that's settled.

Then I go to Orbitz and use their weekend search. You say "I want to take a weekend in [March]." (for example). By the way, go online early in the morning or in the middle of the night. Everyone books their travel during lunch and after work, or on weekends, so the prices tend to jump at these times.

Orbitz then gives you airfares in a matrix departing thurs, fri, sat and returning sat, sun, or mon. You choose which days to depart and return.

Wineries and such are nice, but only with a significant other. If you don't drive somwhere, pick a city where you won't need a rental car. It sounds like you're alone, so cities are good because you can either meet up with friends who are travelling or friends who live in other cities. But get a hotel... no one wants to feel obligated to have you sleep on their couch.

Happy travelling!
posted by JJ Jenkins at 8:30 AM on February 11, 2007 [1 favorite]

Although you're not all that close to D.C., you might want to try poking around or asking your question on this Washington Post travel blog. There's also Site59 for weekend packages, although that might be related to Orbitz nowadays. Fun idea - happy traveling!
posted by walla at 8:38 AM on February 11, 2007

Start with Williamsburg and Richmond. Those are drivable. So is Charlottesville. There's so much to see in Virginia. I'd focus on Virginia and Washington DC before branching out.
posted by wildeepdotorg at 4:03 PM on February 11, 2007

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