Fill that free weekend with a last-minute getaway

It’s a dream come true for road-trippers. You find yourself with a free weekend (or a few days off) and decide to take a last-minute trip.

With limited time for an escape, how do you quickly choose your destination and activities? And do you make arrangements in advance … or simply “wing it” and hope for the best?

Several well-traveled locals who are proficient in planning weekend and last-minute jaunts have shared their tips about choosing a destination for a fun mini-break.

Dana Earley, of Sewell, plans about four to eight weekend getaways a year.

“One of the best parts about living in South Jersey is our proximity to oceans, mountains and wonderful cities – from Washington D.C. to New York – all within a few hours’ drive,” she says.

Her favorite getaways are Annapolis, Maryland; Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania, as well as the Hudson River Valley because the drive is less than two hours.

“I also like to go to Chapel Hill, North Carolina, for a football or basketball game. It is a seven-hour drive, but as long as you have three days, it is do-able. We are Tar Heel fans because our oldest daughter graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill in 2014, and we fell in love with the area.”

As a rule, she prefers hotels that offer a free breakfast (such as Springhill Suites, Homewood Suites, Embassy Suites and Hampton Inn), as it saves money and time.