When most people think about vacation, they often imagine a weeklong trip to the Caribbean or maybe a long-planned-for adventure through Europe. But few conceive of the possibility of vacation being just a couple of days long. It’s just not how the American psyche works. Granted, we do live in a large, spread out country with poor mass transit options as compared to other countries, so short getaways can be a little more challenging than they are for our international counterparts, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t make the most of any time we have away from work, however brief it may be.
We know that vacation is beneficial and we know that Americans aren’t taking enough of it. Although there are likely dozens of reasons for this, some valid and some not, I’m here to offer up a possible solution: the quick trip. Vacation doesn’t have to be a week or two saved up for once a year travel or less. Vacation can be a two day weekend trip to the beach, or a three day ski getaway in Vermont, or a long holiday weekend in Paris. Quick trips hold a lot of value and shouldn’t be brushed off as a waste of time or money. Over the past decade or so, I’ve shifted my thinking from planning for the traditional once-a-year weeklong vacation to opting for more frequent quick trips of four days or less. Here’s why you should too:
Quick trips burn fewer vacation days
This is somewhat of a no-brainer, but the shorter your trip, the fewer vacation days you’ll need to burn. A weekend trip costs you no vacation days while a long weekend trip of 3-4 days might make you burn 1 or 2 depending on holidays and what time your travels begin and end. If you get 15 vacation days a year, you could take 15 long weekend trips. That’s more than one trip a month! Even if you use 5 of those vacation days for a week-long trip somewhere far away, you’re still left with 10 days, or 10 long weekend trips. Not too shabby!
Quick trips are usually cheaper
Less time away from home means less money that needs to be spent. Hotel expenses can add up quickly, as can meals out and sightseeing costs. If you spend an average of $200 per day on vacation, a weekend trip will cost you $1000 less than a weeklong trip. That’s a significant difference. If you’re flying, you can’t get around the cost of airfare, BUT short trips typically have more flexibility as to when they can take place and with more flexibility comes the greater chance for deals/cheaper rates.
Less planning is needed for a quick trip
One of the reasons many people avoid booking trips is because they get overwhelmed by the planning. A lot can go into the logistics and details needed to put a vacation together. By nature, quick trips tend to involve less planning. With fewer days away, there are fewer details to plan for. Additionally, it’s less likely that you’ll be moving between cities or hotel rooms during a quick trip, which is often one of the biggest logistical stressors for travelers. Less planning means less hassle and less time needed before you take the trip, allowing for more spontaneous adventures (ie. living).
It’s easier to take advantage of deals & mistake fares
When mistake fares or bargains pop up, flexibility is your best friend. Mistake fares are typically only available on specific dates or during short windows of time. While longer trips require careful planning with timing (ex. scheduling vacation days, working around planned events, etc.), quick weekend trips can often be taken on the spur of the moment. So when a mistake fare for under $250 to Paris pops up, it easier to jump on the deal for a quick long weekend getaway than it would be to try and figure out vacation days and whatnot for a longer trip. By the time you checked in with your boss and your wife and made sure your kids’ camp schedule didn’t conflict, that mistake fare would be long gone. Book that trip for a long weekend and you only have to deal with one or two days of possible conflicts. It’s worth the minor hassle.
Quick trips allow you to sample places to return to
A few years ago, I went on a four day green blur trip through Ireland. My friend and I stopped in four different cities over four nights. We had an absolute blast, but definitely didn’t get a good feel for any one place because of the short time we had in each. What we did get out of it was a pretty clear picture of the places where we wanted to return and spend more time and those where one night was probably more time than we needed to spend in the first place. Despite Dingle, Ireland being a tiny little town without many attractions, it was, by far, the highlight of the trip and a place I can’t wait to return to for a longer visit. Dublin on the other hand, not so much. So when I return to Ireland for a longer trip someday, I’ll have a better idea how to best use my time exploring the country.
If your destination sucks, you’re not stuck there forever
Have you ever taken a trip somewhere and the destination just didn’t vibe well? Or maybe you were bored out of your mind? The beauty of the quick trip to one of these destinations is that you’re not stuck there very long. I spent four days in Panama City, Panama, and although I love me some Latin America, this city just didn’t do it for me. After three days, I’d had enough. Luckily, with it being such a quick trip, I wasn’t stuck for very long wasting time and money on a place that really didn’t fit.
What does this all add up to?
Quick trips allow for more frequent travel!
Fewer vacation days, cheaper travel budgets, and less planning all mean more opportunity for travel. And who doesn’t want more vacation in their life? If you live in the reality of the 9-5 world with limited vacation time and a limited budget, the quick trip is your best way to make travel a more regular part of your life. Book a weekend getaway and get traveling!