Less than a week of vacation? Short trips can be just as fulfilling as long ones!
Who doesn't want to travel? Convincing people to talk about travel is easy –it’s finding the free time to go that’s often the problem! I know here in Canada that the majority of working professionals don’t use all their allotted vacation time each year and I for one would love to see that change. But when you have no choice but to use your vacation time in segments of week or less, it’s hard not to feel rushed and over-scheduled and tired the whole time.
As a chronic over-scheduler, I am my own worst enemy with this. There’s only so much you can do in a few days – but that’s never stopped me from trying to double down on our schedule. But experience has taught me time and time again that exhaustion and crankiness aren’t worth it to see just one more thing. That’s why I’m changing my tune a little when it comes to short trip. It’s time to get creative and get packing!
Pick A Theme
I once read about a traveler who did a culinary themed trip to Budapest, complete with cooking classes and market tours. I had never really thought about Hungarian cuisine before but now I can’t get it out of my mind. Who wouldn’t love a trip where your every activity is devoted to food!?
Obviously it’s no mystery what my interests are, but there’s plenty of themed trips you can take that don’t focus solely on food. Imagine an art themed holiday weekend in Paris, a wine-soaked week in Chile, or 72 hours in Montreal to celebrate Chinese New Year. I want to sign up for all three just thinking about it!!
The amazing advantage of themed holidays is that, while you might not have enough time to really get to explore a city or a region in its entirety, in just a few short days you can really get acquainted with one particular neighbourhood or culture. Themed holidays also narrow the scope of your planning process, eliminating stress and saving time.
Don’t despair if your passion or preferred theme requires more travel time than you can manage. You’re not alone. Most Jane Austen fans would love to travel to England but there are amazing literature festivals all around the world and there’s likely something in your own backyard (He’s no Jane, but you can always celebrate George Bernard Shaw at the Niagara Shaw festival.)
Keep Things Simple And Streamlined.
If you are short on time, consider the benefits of an all-inclusive resort. All inclusive options are a great choice if you have limited time to plan AND travel. Reputable organizations ensure you don’t have to worry about a thing and they take care of everything from start to finish – from airport transfers to arranging special excursions. You can go for as little as 4 nights – though you will probably want to stay longer!
And there is more to all-inclusive resorts than just a beach - you can tailor your trip to best fit your interests and all-inclusive resorts are available as family friendly or child free, sports, nature, or spa destinations.
If an all-inclusive truly isn’t your style (and it’s not always mine either) you can still chose accommodation options with extra perks. Boutique hostels often include breakfast and an array of free or nearly free activities (like city tours, pub crawls, yoga classes, and movie nights.) Campgrounds now offer ‘glamping’ experiences that include your accommodations (already set up!), meals, activities, and the support of the staff to make it all go smoothly. A short last minute getaway can still appeal to every travel style.
Outwit Jet Lag!
So you only have a long weekend or a 5 day break? Travel can be tiring on its own without bringing jet lag into the picture! Try to focus on north-south trips as opposed to east-west – you can still go a great distance but at least you’ll remain in your own time zone (or very close to it).
Have a jet lag plan. If it’s 2pm but all you want to do is crash, try reading at a local coffee shop, going for a short walk with the goal of getting 10 great photos, or sampling a small glass of local wine at the hotel bar. Each of these activities is ultra-low key, but you’ll get more enjoyment from them than if you gave in and slept in your room.
Be flexible. You never know when jet lag will hit or when you’ll feel energized. I thought after 20 hours of traveling across 6 time zones to land in Hawaii that my first day would be a write off. It was a happy surprise to wake up the next morning at 6am after a perfect night’s sleep. Three days later, however, when I thought I would be well rested and adjusted, it took a huge effort just to get out of bed.
Finally, follow the best, old fashioned advice. Drink plenty of water and avoid dehydrating caffeine and alcohol. Eat often and stick with light, healthy choices. Do everything possible to match the schedule of your destination. As soon as you land, start eating at their meal times, sleeping in their evenings.
Remember Travel Safety
Short trips don’t mean compromising on safety and security. Always make two copies of your passport - leave one at home with your emergency contact and keep one with you, stored safely and apart from the real document. Review your travel insurance and car service policies to make sure you’re covered in the case of emergencies.
And don’t let the excitement of a quick escape contribute to some unsavory celebrations. Whether you’re celebrating Chinese New Year’s in the city or the beginning of summer at the cottage, stay safe around fireworks. Always have a plan to make sure you have a designated driver and communicate with your group so no one gets left behind.
There are plenty of amazing vacation destinations that are close to home or at least close to your home time zone. With a bit of planning, you can easily minimize your hassles, maximize your relaxation, and ultimately feel like you’ve had a real, honest-to-goodness vacation in just a short amount of time.