As much as I travel, such day trips are very rare for me, and in fact, this was my first ever quick day-trip jaunt by air. I ended up booking the day trip after being given a round-trip voucher on Southwest that had to be used very quickly. At first, determined to visit all of the 50 US states, I decided to get to one of the two states I haven't yet seen, namely Oklahoma. I did my research. Last month, on a flight between Oakland and Portland, I polled Southwest flight attendants, one of whom raved about the city's "awesome river walk" and downtown bars. Interesting, though perhaps not really my thing. I turned to Twitter and received an unusual number of extremely helpful tips. The star Oklahoma City tip-giver was travel writer Robert Reid, who grew up in Oklahoma. Reid made me psyched to sample the city's Vietnamese restaurant scene, among other things.
Ultimately, given scheduling and flight times, an Oklahoma City excursion would have meant about 17 overnight hours on the ground, so I passed. Now that I've got some really enticing tips, however, I know I'll visit Oklahoma City relatively soon.
My day in Chicago was budget-friendly, all things considered. My budget came to $102, as follows:
• $5 Security Fee for use of Southwest round-trip voucher;
• $68 car service to & taxi back from La Guardia, including tip;
• $5 Chicago Transit Authority transit card;
• $5 coffee at Coffee Studio in Andersonville;
• $19 lunch for two at Muskie’s on Lincoln.
Of course, this could have been much cheaper had I been willing to undertake the slow public transportation slog back from La Guardia at night. And it would have been considerably pricier had my friend Mike not treated me to breakfast and dinner.
The experience got me thinking about this sort of scenario, which is no doubt common for those who are strapped for time and money: having a voucher that has to be used quickly and within a tight time frame.
What might make daytrips by air particularly worthwhile?
1. Length of Excursion. Take the first flight out and return on the final flight of the night. To make your day away count, you’ll want to make sure you have as much time as possible in your destination city. Try to get on an early morning flight and return as late as possible. You can catch up on sleep afterward.
2. Proximity of Destination. Your destination should be no more than two hours flying time from your home base. Farther than that and you’ll be spending too much time in the air.
3. Goal of Day Trip. One day does not provide enough time to see a place in a satisfying manner as a tourist, so don't try. Develop a goal that sets the day apart from the general project of tourism: a restaurant to try, a museum to visit, a friend to see.