When to start a weekend trip - how to plan a weekend trip.

In anticipation of my new book, Traveling With A Full-Time Job, I’m sharing excerpts that did not make it into the book. I hope you enjoy this article and if you do, order a copy. It would mean the world to me.

Among weekenders, there is a debate going on – when is the right time to start a weekend trip? Some say Friday evening while others say Saturday morning. A few have even mentioned Thursday evening.

In a poll I ran on Twitter (follow me @thethoughtcard) which consisted of 238 votes, 90% of people voted for a Friday evening departure over a Saturday departure. Which do you prefer?

When To Start a Weekend Trip

How to plan a weekend trip when you have a full-time job.

Karen Turner from Wanderlustingk.com says: “Depends on how far I’m going. If it’s far, I leave on Friday night to have all of Saturday. I prefer Saturday mornings for closer destinations (30 minutes to 2 hours away), assuming I’m in no rush to arrive. I avoid paying for a hotel on Friday night unless I need to.” 

Jessica from TheFioneers.com says: “Depends where I’m going! Somewhere north or south of where I am, I prefer Saturday morning. Also, if I’m going to the west coast, I usually do Friday night. I figure if I’m crossing 3 or more time zones, I will be tired and jet-lagged. Might as well get there earlier.”

Paul of LaunchPersonalFinance.com says: “Friday evening because waking up at your destination Saturday morning makes it feel like a longer trip.” 

Read Next: 6 Things To Pack For Weekend Getaways

My Personal Preference

For weekend getaways, I usually start my trip right after work on Friday evening. However, depending on the mode of transportation, and the time slots available, I may ask my boss to leave earlier so I can catch an earlier flight or train.

I’ve found leaving the office around 3:30 p.m. is less disruptive and works well for my team. I may do this a few times a year, but I do not make this a habit.

Helpful Tip: If you want to leave earlier in the day, make concessions. Tell your boss you will skip lunch or make up the time by coming in earlier. If you are available to respond to emails, let your team know. 

I prefer to get to my destination late on Friday so I don’t have to wake up too early on Saturday. I don’t mind traveling late at night and I usually grab an Uber so I can get to my hotel as quickly as possible.

Also, if I can swing it, I don’t mind paying for the extra hotel night if that means getting a good night’s sleep. Making the most of my weekend breaks means sightseeing all day Saturday!

While I prefer to begin weekend trips right after work on Friday evenings, Kylie Neuhaus, author and travel blogger at Between England and Iowa and Essex Explored, prefers to fly out on Saturday mornings to avoid Friday rush hour traffic.

She says: “I feel more comfortable arriving at a new destination during the day time, rather than late at night. I tend to rely on public transport or walking, and I wouldn’t want to do that in the dark. It also saves on the cost of another night at a hotel by arriving first thing in the morning. I usually take the earliest flight on a Saturday morning (around 4 a.m. or 5 a.m.). That puts me in a new country by lunchtime. I can enjoy the local food for dinner, see some sites, and spend the majority of the second day exploring.”

When To End a Weekend Trip  

Here’s another popular debate. Should you return from a weekend trip early on Sunday or late?

I usually end my trips early Sunday morning, but when I was younger, to extend the time, I took the latest flight or train back home Sunday evening or early Monday morning. However, I try not to do this anymore because it’s exhausting. I also realized the inconvenience it could cause if I run into delays. 

A few years ago I booked a return red-eye flight from Oslo (Norway) to New York City set to arrive Monday morning. With a 6:00 a.m. arrival, I thought I had plenty of time to make it to work by 9 a.m. However, when my flight got delayed, I arrived later than expected. Luckily my manager was accommodating, but I got to work at 3:00 p.m. missing the majority of the workday. After that incident, I haven’t booked any return trips on Sunday evenings or Monday mornings. 

Read Next: How Much Does a Four Day Trip To Oslo Cost?

Similar to the Friday evening or Saturday morning debate, people have differing opinions about this.

Lindsey Messenger of SevenDayWeekender.com says: “Depending on how far away I am, I usually return late Sunday afternoon between 2:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. That way I can still see some things in the morning, and be home by dinner time (to save money by not eating out).”

Beatriz Reynoso, a teacher from New York City says: “I tend to start heading back Sunday morning or early afternoon in case of delays. I like to have time to rest and recharge after traveling, before heading to work the next day.”

Benefits of returning early Sunday:

  • Time to unpack and relax.
  • Mentally prepare for the work week ahead.
  • Early morning flights on Sunday are usually less expensive.  

Cons to returning early Sunday:

  • Wake up early for departure.

Benefits of returning late Sunday:

  • More time to explore a destination.
  • Wake up later or sleep in.

Cons to returning late Sunday:

  • Flights are more expensive during peak hours on Sunday.
  • Less time to unpack and relax.
  • Less time to prepare for the work week ahead.

While there is no right or wrong way to plan a weekend jaunt, I encourage you to experiment with starting your trip on Friday evening and Saturday morning. Start your journey back home late Sunday evening and next time try early Sunday morning. Be open to trying it all. All of this will help you figure out what’s right for you.


Did you enjoy this article?

Grab a copy of my new book, Traveling With A Full-Time Job available on Amazon. This easy to follow guide shares practical strategies to help you balance a full-time career and frequent travel. With your purchase, you’ll also get a bonus video where I interview four avid travelers who share their top tips for making the best use of their limited vacation time.

Want to continue the discussion? Join The Thought Card Membership and share with the community, when you prefer to start a weekend trip, Friday or Saturday?

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