TRAVEL HACK: HOW TO PLAN A SOLO WEEKEND AND HAVE A GREAT TIME
Sometimes we all need a quiet weekend, don’t we? Last week I was craving some serious ‘me’ time. I haven’t had any down time in weeks and I’ve got quite a lot happening at the moment, so I decided to book a solo weekend away to the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia. So why is a weekend trip the best time to start solo travelling? A weekend is short enough in time that you won’t feel lonely, especially if you have planned lots of adventure or want to spend the weekend reading in a hot bathtub. Convinced? I hope so! Follow my steps below on how to plan a solo weekend and I can guarantee you’ll be planning the next one when you get home! SET ASIDE YOUR BUDGET Before you decide your destination and where you want to stay, first up you need to allocate budget towards your solo weekend and make sure you can afford the trip before you book anything. I find Excel the best program to use when compiling a budget. I swear by it and it’s super easy to use! I’m also part of the Microsoft #WorkWonders Influencers team this year and I promise my love of Excel has nothing to do with this – ask any of my friends or family, I live for an Excel spreadsheet. You should include transport, accommodation, food/beverages and activities at a minimum in your budget.
Tip: To add up the budget in your column, using your keyboard type =SUM( then highlight the budget column and close the equation with a closing bracket ) straight after – no spaces. This will allow your spreadsheet to automatically add up your budget column and any changes you make.
RESEARCH YOUR DESTINATION The next step to organising a solo weekend is to research your ideal destination. Ask yourself – do you want to travel close to home, interstate or overseas? Do you want to travel by bus, boat, train, car or plane? Do you want to a city escape, an countryside retreat or a coastal getaway? For my trip, I wanted to go somewhere that meant I had to travel by plane. I wanted the flight to be quick but I didn’t want a city escape. I jumped online and after researching a few ideal destinations, I finally settled on Sunshine Beach in Queensland.
RESEARCH YOUR FLIGHTS Now that you have decided on your destination it’s time to see how you plan on getting there. Bus, boat, train, car or plane? Whatever your method, shop around. Don’t just look at one car hire site – look at five and get the best deal. The more time you put into researching, the more you’ll get out of it. And your wallet will thank you. I researched flights on Virgin and Jetstar, and decided to book my flights with Jetstar due to convenience and price. Remember, you need to check your budget at each step of planning.
RESEARCH YOUR ACCOMMODATION So, you have decided on your destination and you have researched your mode of transport. Here comes the fun stuff – where to stay! Do you want to camp? Do you want to stay at budget accommodation? Or do you want to treat yourself and stay somewhere really nice? I love using Airbnb when researching and booking accommodation; it’s the best as it has something for everyone and for all budgets. For this trip I wanted to treat myself so I chose a gorgeous two bedroom apartment just metres from Sunshine Beach - stunning huh! The owner Sally is one of the nicest hosts I’ve met on Airbnb; she was on hand via text to help with questions about the apartment and the area, and she also left a note and a bottle of champagne on the table for me when I arrived.
Tip: Remember to research how you can travel from the airport to your accommodation. Taxi, shuttle bus or train? How much will this cost you? Have you factored this into your budget?
WRITE YOUR PACKING LIST Are you going to a cold or warm destination? This is the first question you need to ask yourself before you start packing. It’s best to write a packing list at least a couple of weeks before you depart to make sure you leave enough time to buy last minute items. However sometimes you won’t have that luxury with a spur of the moment trip! I use OneNote to jot down my packing list and share it on OneDrive so I can access it when I am on the road when I have an addition to make, or when I want to take something off the list. So handy!
WRITE YOUR ACTIVITIES LIST Do you want to keep yourself flat out busy on your solo weekend or do you want to rest and relax? There are some who prefer not to plan and just going with the flow when they arrive. There are others who like to research and plan so they can squeeze in as much as possible. Totally up to you! Write down your activities list using OneNote and make sure you leave plenty of time to do everything you want to! I chose to stay at Sunshine Beach because I knew I could have a relaxing beachside getaway there without feeling the pressure of keeping busy. I just wanted to swim, eat, read, sleep, repeat.
TELL YOUR FRIENDS AND FAMILY And finally, tell your friends and family of your trip. Email them your itinerary so they know where you’ll be and give them your Skype details so you can touch base with them whilst you’re away.
Have you ever travelled solo before? I’d love to hear your stories! If you’re thinking about going on a solo trip or about to book one, make sure you check out my tips for travelling solo here.
More photos from the stunning apartment I stayed at, below!
This post is in collaboration with Microsoft Australia. All thoughts are my own.