If my “6 Tips for Road Trips
” feature last month didn’t quite suit your travel style, how about an (affordable) weekend getaway? As the lucky recipient of a recent Sun Country vacation to Minneapolis, Minn., I thought it only fitting I follow up with a few tips for those who prefer to travel by air. So please, fasten your seatbelt and direct your attention to the flight attendant nearest you … it’s jet-setting season!
#1 – Fly Lansing
If you’ve never flown from Lansing Capital Region International Airport, you’re in for a treat. With Sun Country’s non-stop service to destinations like Orlando, Minneapolis and Washington D.C., you can go from mid-Michigan to vacation destinations in just a few hours. From the time I left my apartment to the moment my suitcase hit the hotel room in Minneapolis, only three hours and 20 minutes had passed — you just can’t beat it!
#2 – Shop ‘til you Drop
I’m sure many will agree, one of the best ways to spend a weekend away is shopping. Even if you don’t buy a thing, it’s fun to check out the fashion and trends in other towns.
Minneapolis, or more specifically Bloomington, is home to the Mall of America — talk about a shopping trip! Spending a day at the Mall of America is a great way to make memories with travel companions and everyone can have fun within their own budget — sticking to it is the real challenge (see tip #6). With three stories of shops, eats and entertainment, an indoor amusement park and Underwater Adventures aquarium exhibit, it might take more than a weekend to do it all.
#3 – Enjoy Your Down Time
Part of getting away means relaxing, which can mean different things to different people. Researching hotels that suit your budget as well as your definition of “relaxation” is important.
While on vacation, I stayed at the Radisson Hotel Bloomington, home to the Water Park of America (the world’s largest indoor water park). I’ll admit, I rode down the 10-story water slide and floated along the lazy river with the best of ‘em. But if that’s not your thing, the Radisson Hotel Bloomington offers a beautiful spa, high-tech fitness area, a massive arcade and decadent bar at the hotel restaurant — Split Rock Grille. The more inclusive your home-away-from-home can be, the easier it will be for everyone to feel like they relaxed.
#4 – Hang with the Locals
I was fortunate enough to connect with some folks who live and work in the Minneapolis region. They showed me the hot spots downtown including bars and restaurants and gave me great tips on what to see while I was in town. Even if you’re only visiting for a long weekend, talk to the concierge or bar staff — with limited time away you’ll want to make sure every destination is worth your while.
#5 – Take a Bus Tour
Many destination cities offer inexpensive chartered bus tours to see the sights and sounds you might not otherwise experience. These tours are perfect for short stays, since you don’t always get a chance to see everything you’d like.
On my last day in Minneapolis, I landed a seat on a three-hour tour (hello “Gilligan’s Island”) through Minneapolis and St. Paul. It was filled with history, city highlights and fun facts. Bonuses: I earned a new high score on Foursquare and I snapped tons of great photos for my scrapbook.
#6 – Bring an Expandable Suitcase (or two)
When I weighed my bag in Lansing prior to my trip it was 22 pounds. On my way back from Minneapolis it was 38. All I can say is you never know what kind of deals you may stumble upon or how heavy your souvenirs may be … so plan for the unexpected. Even the most frugal of spenders has a weak moment now and again. (Did I mention there’s no sales tax on clothing and shoes in Minneapolis?)
Tags: travel, weekend getaways