If you’ve been watching our stories on Instagram, you’ll know that I was in San Diego on Tuesday. (If you’re not watching my stories, you should at least be following us, because were’re awesome – @pfamilyadventures). I woke up at 4 am, showered, got on a plane, flew to California, flew back, and went to sleep in my own bed. All in ONE DAY. I’m nuts, right? Well, yes, but not because of a one-day vacation. It was necessary. And wonderful. Move over, staycations, and make room for daycations. Here’s how to do it, and why you totally should.

Why San Diego?

This is kind of a complicated question. I knew I had to go to California for a thing, but that thing was going to take approximately 15 minutes. It just had to be done in California. I looked at flights to the major cities in California and picked the cheapest flights that met my requirements. So here’s the thing: Google Flights is amazing. You can look at multiple airports, multiple airlines, and multiple dates all at the same time. It took a little bit of time and a lot of tweaking stats, but I finally found exactly what I was looking for. It just happened to be San Diego. And, naturally, it was on Frontier Airlines.

I was completely okay with going to San Diego. I’d never been there, but heard great things. It ended up being the perfect location – it was mid-60’s and sunny, and the Husband was driving me to the airport in the middle of a blizzard. I figured I could use some beach time.

Why only one day?

Since my thing that required I be in California was only going to take a few minutes, I didn’t need to be there overnight. I decided to fly out early in the morning, give myself at least six hours, and fly back. Not spending the night saves money- more than just the hotel stay. You’ll probably need a carry-on, which will either mean a more expensive airline or a bag fee. You’ll also spend more money on food because you’ll have more meals. If you’re not spending the night, just plan your meals and bring lots of snacks.

Sometimes flights don’t work out perfectly, and 24 hours is 36 or 48. If you’re dead-set on your destination and you decide you need to spend the night hostels will save you a lot of money if you’re traveling solo (and I’ve heard very good things about the HI Hostels in San Diego).

What do you do if you only have a few hours?

You research. Beforehand, obviously. My flight arrived in San Diego at about 10:30 PST and I was out of the airport by 11, but my outgoing flight didn’t leave until just past 7 PM. I was flying into a new airport, so I planned on heading back extra early (around 5) because I didn’t want to risk being late. This left me with 6 hours to kill, so I needed to know what to do with it in a city I’ve never been to.

I knew I had to do my thing, so I wanted to get that out of the way. I was also going to need to eat lunch, but I could eat dinner at the airport if I was hungry. My only other necessary stop was the beach – it was just a matter of deciding which one. I figured I would leave the rest up to chance and local recommendations since I could definitely spend all day at the beach, and the Zoo is always a good back up.

Is it worth it?

Yes, absolutely. I’ve done this kind of trip before, only it was San Francisco and it wasn’t my first time there. You get to spend the whole day somewhere completely different! Sure, you could spend a week or a month there, but face it, that costs money and time that we just don’t always have. When you just need out of wherever you are, but don’t have a ton of money or vacation days (or you could just call in sick), a one-day vacation might just be the reset you need.

One of the cool things about San Diego is that the airport is in the middle of town, unlike a lot of other places where it’s a solid 30 minute drive into town. My Lyft driver recommended Liberty Market (and some of the restaurants there), and someone at my thing recommended the same place. I figured since two people recommended it, it was worth a stop. I could have spent all day there, but only walked around for a while and ate lunch. It was a cool place though. After that, I found a cafe, worked for a bit on my computer, then spent the rest of my afternoon lounging about, reading on the beach. It was so relaxing.

Wait- are the any downsides at all?!?

Of course there are! For starters, everyone will think you’re crazy and wasting your money, which is why I have the section below on how much it actually cost me to do this. Second, you’ll only get hours in your destination city. I went to San Diego, but I barely scratched the surface of what there is to do in San Diego. Third, well, you’re traveling. Depending on you (and if you have to work the next day), it can take a lot out of you. You could be sore or jet-lagged from the plane. You could even just be grumpy because sometimes travel does that when things don’t to plan. Last, you have to carry your weird, large bag with you everywhere because you’re me and have a lot of stuff.

But if you need an escape, a daycation might be just what you’re looking for. Aside from being exhausted on Wednesday because I’m pregnant and travel is hard, it felt so good to relax on the beach, sans the Kid or responsibility. I’ve definitely spent more money on stupider things.

Cost Breakdown

  • Flight, round-trip from DEN to SAN and back: $108 (could have been cheaper, except I bought window seats)
  • Lunch, at a sit-down restaurant: $22
  • Lyft, pretty much everywhere, including from the airport to home: $45 (again, could have been cheaper, but you should always tip your drivers well if the charge is less than $10)
  • Cafe: $5
  • Airport snacks (in lieu of dinner): $10
  • Total: $190

If you do other activities, or go shopping, obviously the cost will go up. The cost of transportation while you’re there will be different, too, depending on where you go. The further you go from the airport, the more it’ll cost. You can save money by taking public transportation, but it takes a lot more time and you have to know what there is in the area. Depending on how much time, where you want to go, and your financial situation, renting a car might also be worth it- if you book a car with your flight, it’s usually cheaper.

There you have it!

The one-day trip. The daycation (I totally made up that word and I really hope it becomes a thing). A way to get out of your hometown, without having to spend valuable vacation days or a lot of money. I know I’ve spent $200 on way more useless things, and vacations have been shown to be good for your mental health – even just planning one has benefits. Sure, one day isn’t a lot, but you could take that vacation day at home, watching Netflix, or you could fly to the beach. I’m going to go with beach.

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