One of the busiest travel times of the year, Memorial Day weekend sees almost 40 million American travelers on the roads, rails, waters, and in the sky. While travel sites vie for your vacation dollars, the majority of folks will take their getaway into their own hands.
Just last year, according to AAA, more than 36 million people (and 88% of the Memorial Day travel pie) took to the roads, heading upwards of 50 miles for a weekend escape. With such a surge on the interstates, here are our suggestions for getting ahead on getaway plans.
Plan with purpose
Move from dreaming to decision this Memorial Day weekend.
For starters, decide what’s at the core of your dedicated downtime. Need budget-friendly ideas? Or has the harsh winter had you longing for a long weekend splurge? Are you the outdoorsy type—or is urban adventure more your speed? Even if it might be a little of all these things, narrowing down your primary motivation may make the difference between a relaxing versus rushed experience. (You know that feeling of needing a vacation from your vacation? Not fun.) So pare down your purpose to one simple goal.
Filter for flexibility
Though travel deals abound and you can find a tempting vacation package on any myriad of sites, if you can be flexible and open to travel on-the-fly, you might score a better deal. Apps like Hopper or GTFO! deliver customized choices directly to you. Enter your destinations or preferred airports, and the Hopper app analyzes billions of flight prices daily to predict how prices will change and when’s the best time to buy your tickets.
For the more spontaneous, the GTFO! app analyzes day-of and next-day flights only. Instead of scouring on end for last-minute flights, these GTFO! deals pop up expressly at a moment’s notice. Depart from select major hubs like Atlanta, Boston, New York, and Miami on the east coast, Los Angeles, SF Bay Area, and Seattle on the west coast, and Chicago and Dallas in between. Since these are all Zipcar-serviced cities, you can hop off the plane and onto the road in no time.
Stay to play
Life’s about the journey, when you’ve already planned the destination.
Getting there is half the battle, but arriving at your happy place makes or breaks the escape. If you’re only going for the long weekend, choose accommodations that are part of the destination itself. Especially when weather can change unexpectedly, you’ll want your room to be a fun place to hang out. Airbnb has no shortage of original options but you might also stretch your imagination just for a new experience. Every try couchsurfing? Staying with a local is part of the charm of this community-based travel. How about a yurt, teepee, or classic airstream? These glamping structures can be found across America.
Roll with the road
Feel like you don’t have enough time to research or can’t decide on where to go? Make theroad tripthe heart of your weekend. Traffic looking heavy heading north? Go south! Play your favorite tunes, pack your guilty-pleasure snacks, and enjoy the drive to nowhere special. Backroads are good for this kind of adventure—where it’s all about the journey.
Wherever you end up, there’s always an option to crash when you’re ready. Try an app like Hotel Tonightthat offers deep night-of discounts. Or if you’re traveling in a roomy Zipcar (and have a comfy campsitein sight), you can stow camping gear in the trunk. Then you’ve got your getaway ready, right inside your getaway car.