Mini breaks are fantastic. My partner and I have recently returned from a visit to the Lake District and we are both feeling so much better for it. The wind was howling, we stayed at a cottage completely in the middle of nowhere (single track roads down steep hills, over stone bridges, right in the heart of the countryside, perfect) and walked until we couldn’t feel our legs anymore. For us deciding on a place to visit was easy: we both enjoy the outdoors, aren’t massive people people and live in the UK. There are so many spectacular secluded destinations all within a few hours drive, however it got me to thinking: how does someone plan the perfect mini break? How do we make the most of those precious few days away? So I’ve decided to put a little list together outlining some of the things I did, and wished I had done.
Selecting a destination.
This one can be difficult. Are you a fan of big cities or secluded villages? Do you enjoy fine restaurants or pub grub? Do you want to stay in your own country or travel abroad? Think about the things you enjoy and would like to make the most of over the course of a few days. The essence of a mini break is for it to be only a few days long, possibly a long weekend. We travelled on the Friday and returned on the Monday, not much time to make the most of anywhere. However we knew straight away the Lake District was for us, but if you prefer more hustle and bustle maybe consider a city break. I’d highly suggest checking out Groupon and Wowcher as you can get some fairly decent deals so long as you are flexible with your times and dates.
Find out whats on offer
Once you’ve selected your destination you pretty much need to check out TripAdvisor. This lists almost everything in that area which you may want to visit: restaurants, attractions, museums, art galleries, cafes. The list is endless. You can also check out hotels and B&Bs and can sometimes get pretty good deals for accommodation. Overall its the top website to check out when visiting some place new as it also features customer reviews. I’m an avid user and always make sure to leave reviews of places when I come back, even if it is somewhere local. This knowledge is invaluable to other people who make be thinking of paying that establishment a visit. Just bare in mind the internet can be a callous place and sometimes there is more at play when reading a negative review. I always think how the establishment responds to negative criticism is more telling than the negative review itself.
Packing your suitcase.
You’ve selected a destination, booked your dates, now all thats left is to pack! Make a list, and check it twice. Is there anything worse than unpacking at your chosen destination and finding no toothbrushes in your carry case? Don’t be that person! I always make a list and tick off as I pack. And I always take an extra pair of pants, socks and trousers. You never know what may happen! Another thing to consider is groceries. Is it self catering? Then make sure you take essentials like tea, coffee, milk and bread. Also, always take a loo roll with you, you just never know!
If you only have a small carry case/rucksack and are struggling to fit everything in, I have a top tip for you: don’t fold your clothes, roll them. I fold in half once, then roll them as tight as possibly into a cylinder. I also do this with the towels and flannels, and can fit a surprising amount into one bag. When visiting Dublin with a friend I managed to fit enough clothes and toiletries for 4 days in quite a small rucksack. Save your space, roll your clothes!
Travelling to your destination.
All you have left now is to get there! Plan ahead. If you are travelling abroad, get to the airport with tonnes of time to spare. Either stay at a hotel nearby the night before or travel up with at least 2 hours to spare. If you are driving, then add an hour onto your driving time to take into account breaks. Our trip to the Lake District was four hours, I was driving and foolishly I decided I wanted to get there with minimal breaks. During that four hour drive we stopped once for 10 minutes. What. A. Mistake. By the time we reached our cottage I was exhausted and had to sleep for an hour, wasting precious time. After tedious motorway driving I was also cranky and hadn’t eaten properly the whole time. Don’t be a fool like me, make the journey itself part of the break! Pack a picnic and stop every hour or so. It doesn’t have to be the boring part before the fun begins. If you’re feeling particularly adventurous you could plan other places to visit on the journey. Make the most of it.
Enjoy your mini break!
This is a pretty big one. Spend your days away doing what you enjoy, whether it be on your own, with a partner or with friends/family. Make the most of your time away, wake up every morning smiling and looking forward to your time ahead. Little bit of dust in the place you’re staying? So what! Unless the cleanliness levels are complete abysmal don’t let it detract from your stay! The cottage we stayed in was part of a converted farmhouse, wooden beams, the lot. This also meant a little bit of dust. Did we care? No! Everything which needed to be clean, was clean. And it was more of a base camp for us whilst we went out and explored the local area. My point is to not let the little things build up and become big issues. You have the power to put a positive spin on any negative thing that happens, so do that. And you’ll feel all the better for it.
I hope these tips have been of some use, please let me know if you’re planning your own mini break soon! My partner and I are off to Devon next month for a few days staying in Combe Martin, and you can be sure I’ve already checked out tonnes of things to do on TripAdvisor. Enjoy your break!