There and back again -- in one day

By Katherine Dillinger, CNNPublished 13th December 2012
Bilbo Baggins goes on quite a journey in "The Hobbit," and one fan is embarking on a journey of her own to see it.
When I lived in Austin, Texas, every "Lord of the Rings" movie release was a cause for celebration among a certain group of friends. We saw new releases and DVD versions as soon as we could, a tradition that brought us great joy and hours of entertainment. Now, the first "Hobbit" movie is coming out this weekend, but I live in Atlanta. What's a geek to do?
For this one, the answer is to fly back to Austin for 24 hours to see the movie with my friends at the legendary Alamo Drafthouse Cinema. Thanks to air miles, I'm doing it for about $15.
My decision has earned funny looks and awkward conversational pauses, but I'm excited about my "vacation concentrate": no wasting time with filler, just 24 hours of fun.
"You'd be surprised how long a one- or two-day vacation feels if you really get away and go somewhere different," said Travelocity blogger Courtney Scott. "I went to Milan on a long weekend (three full days) last winter because I found a fantastic flight deal, and I came back renewed and recharged!"
Events like movies or ballgames are often the impetus behind these quick trips. Mary DeVore of Seminole, Florida, traveled to Albany, New York, and Foxborough , Massachusetts, to see Bruce Springsteen in concert. She also took 24 hours to see the Eagles in Foxborough.
Mary Devore of Seminole, Florida, has done quick trips to see the Eagles and Bruce Springsteen in concert.
Mary Devore of Seminole, Florida, has done quick trips to see the Eagles and Bruce Springsteen in concert.
Courtesy Mary Devore
"The strange thing is that I am really not a concert junkie or anything," she said. "I just feel that these guys and groups that I grew up listening to are aging and I want to be able to see them live when I can. Hoping the Rolling Stones go on one more tour -- you can bet I will fly somewhere for that!"
Anne Bresler of Novi, Michigan, and her husband took a one-day trip to New York last month to catch the superpopular Broadway show "Book of Mormon."
"We bought the tickets and figured we'd plan the full trip later," she said. "When we got around to getting our flights, we realized that it would be easier to just go in and out in one day."
Not to mention cheaper: "With hotel rooms at $300 to $400 for the holiday season, it was much cheaper to just do one day. We got to go to brunch at our favorite restaurant in the city, explored the Microsoft store in Times Square (my husband is a tech nerd) and then saw the show."
One-day trips aren't all fun and games, though. The smaller travel window means more risk of chaos or outright cancellation if there are any problems.
Ashley Stanley of Melbourne, Florida, got 50-yard-line tickets to a New England Patriots game from her husband one year, but a massive winter storm nearly ended the celebration. Their plane was the only one to make it out of Atlanta, but they arrived too late for the car service to the game.
Stanley says she and her husband made it for the second half "by going the trains, planes and automobiles route and got yelled at by some oaf who had taken our seats for not being a 'real fan' for showing up late. After about eight hours of travel just to get to this game!"
Scott says flexibility is the key to a quick trip. "For example, returning on a Sunday from a weekend getaway will typically cost you more than returning on a Monday or Tuesday."
Stanley offers advice that works for just about every traveler, no matter how long the trip: "I just can't get stressed about it. If we make it, wonderful. If we don't, it's a story. The main thing for me is to persevere with humor, to be nice to everyone who's helping you and realize that it's often out of your control."