Because of work schedules, plane ticket prices or other financial constraints, people are often forced to take three- or four-day vacations rather than traditional weeklong trips. Blerg. It’s a bummer to not be able to get your long-term relaxation on and a few days is certainly not an ideal vacation length, but it’s definitely possible to have an awesome short trip if you know how to do it right. Plus, taking a bunch of smaller trips is a super easy way to travel more than ever before! In fact, your trip can be totally worth it as long as you keep some key tips in mind. Keep reading to find out how to make sure your mini-trip is the best ever.
1. Don’t travel too far. Be strategic about picking a destination that’s not crazy far away. Keep the travel time under five hours each way; that way you won’t lose half a day in transit. It’s even better if you can pick a place that’s less than three hours away. Also, trying to get to multiple cities in a short period of time can be a stress mess. Stick to one destination, so you’ll have ample time to explore and relax, rather than having to worry about getting organized to head to the next location. Pick a place you can realistically explore in a few days.
2. If you can, visit a friend. Spending a long weekend or a few days with a friend in their city is one of the best ways to get the most out of a quick trip. They already know all the top spots to eat, hang and see, so you have virtually zero planning to do. Plus, you might even be able to stay with them and save some cash — just make sure you bring a sweet hostess gift.
3. Pack ahead of time. Sorry to sound like your mom, but… it’s the worst when you realize you forgot something you NEED for a trip, like hiking shoes for a mountain trek or a swimsuit for a beach vacation. Pack your bag at least a full 24 hours before you depart, so you don’t have to spend precious vacay time searching for something you have a million of at home. If you leave something crucial out, there’s a good chance you’ll realize it before it’s time to leave.
4. Don’t check your bags. If you’re flying on your mini-trip, you probably don’t need a whole lot of stuff — even if you’re a serious fashionista. Pretend you’re creating a capsule wardrobe if you have to! Since spending time waiting for your bags at the airport cuts into precious relaxing and sightseeing time, skip the baggage tagging and just carry on what you need. Chances are you won’t remember if you wore the perfect outfit every day of your trip, but you will remember all the fun experiences you had. Plus, depending on where you’re going, you’ll save some cash on the bag check fee.
5. Arrive early; leave late. So you can only spare two days off from work, but you still want to make the trip. The idea here is to leave home as early as you possibly can and spend as much time in your destination is as feasible. Don’t fear a 6am flight or train ride if it means you get to spend eight more hours in your destination. You can always sneak in a nap on the trip!
6. Figure out transportation before you get there. There’s nothing worse than standing in the airport, train station or bus terminal trying to figure out how to get to your hotel or vacation rental. If there’s public transit where you’re going, take a look at a map and try to familiarize yourself ahead of time so you can save time once you arrive. Decide if public transit is a feasible way for you to get around for the whole trip, or if you’ll need to rent a car or bike instead. If you’re planning on using a car service like Uber or Lyft, make sure they serve the area you’re traveling to! Some international destinations have their own ride-sharing services. Knowing these little details ahead of time will ensure that you can bliss out on your trip instead of sweating the small stuff.
7. Have a flexible plan. If you’re visiting a place where you’ll want to sightsee, it’s a good idea to know what you want to see or do. Planning out every single minute of every day, on the other hand, almost always backfires. Inevitably, things don’t go according to plan when you travel and having a little flexibility makes adapting to unexpected hitches easier. Ideally, pick out two or three places you want to visit, explore or see each day, and then map them out to see which ones are closest to each other. From there, make a loose plan of where to go and when so you can just relax and enjoy the ride.
8. Switch off from work. If you only have a few days away from the office, it’s even more crucial that you use your time off wisely. Make it clear to your coworkers that you won’t be reachable, so they aren’t left wondering why you’re not responding to emails. If you absolutely have to check your work account, limit yourself to once a day. For an even more relaxing experience, challenge yourself to stay off all email and social media accounts except for once a day. It will really help you stay in the moment!
9. Ditch your screens. If you can’t resist checking Facebook every five minutes or scanning the news constantly (thanks, election season), consider leaving your portable electronics like laptops, e-readers and tablets at home, so you can focus on the experience you’re having instead of getting caught up in social media news, Netflix or a new novel. If you can’t ditch them completely, try to limit their use to travel time and right before bed. Similarly, it’s also a good idea to limit your smartphone use if you can — aside from snapping pics, that is.
Do you ever take mini-vacays? Tag us in your travel snaps on Instagram @BritandCo!
(Photos via Getty)