5 Reasons to Consider a Shorter, Smaller Vacation
As vacation season draws near, thoughts turn to getting out of Dodge for a couple of weeks and letting time away wash away the stresses of everyday life. But, as all the stressors of actually planning and paying for a longer holiday start to creep into the equation, that picturesque getaway you envisioned in your head can quickly morph into a Trip-zilla that induces more stress than it could ever hope to relieve.
Don’t panic, because it doesn’t have to be that way. When it comes to getting the most out of a vacation, bigger is not necessarily better. In fact, there’s research that indicates less vacation could actually be more beneficial to your mental well-being than a chunk of two or more weeks away from it all.
Skeptical this could actually be the case? No worries; you may be a bit jaded because you desperately need a vacation. Here are five reasons to consider making your next one short and sweet.
1. Shorter Trips Are Typically Logistically Less Stressful
Ask yourself this: Which would I rather plan – two weeks touring Southern California theme parks with the whole family or taking the family to a nearby lake and renting a houseboat for three days? Which would I find more relaxing?
Unless you’re on a cruise or some sort of packaged tour where everything is taken care of for you, with each extra day of your holiday come more logistics to handle. Where will you stay? Where will you eat? What will you do that day?
Shorter trips, on the other hand, often require less planning, less advanced notice, less travel time, and can be more spontaneous. It’s also typically easier to be adaptable and flexible on a shorter trip when it comes to certain logistics like packing. Say you forget to pack enough pairs of socks. It’s no big deal to wear a pair of socks for an extra day on a weekend jaunt, but you’re probably going to have to interrupt your relaxing time with some sock shopping on a longer trip.
2. Shorter Trips Can Be More Physically & Mentally Relaxing
Assuming you’re not trying to cram too much distance into a long drive or flight over a short period of time, a shorter trip can be more relaxing in several ways. The first is physically, in the form of jetlag. The general rule of thumb is that it takes one to two days to fully recover from each time zone you cross. Which means, if you take a flight to a destination that causes you to lose three hours, you can expect it to take three to six days just to feel “normal” within your new time. But if you take a short flight or drive for a three-day weekend to somewhere in or near your same time zone, you don’t have to spend a big chunk of your precious time off adjusting to a time change.
On the mental side of things, there’s research that failing to disconnect may come at cognitive cost. In fact, a 2018 survey by Enterprise Rental Car found that 93% of those planning a getaway in 2018 wanted their trip to be a “true escape,” where they left work and the other stressors of their daily lives at home.
While it’s relatively easy to disconnect for a day or two, it’s human nature to start checking emails or check in with work if you’re gone for much longer than that. Then there’s the added stress of potentially learning everything is going just fine at work—without you! Now, instead of unwinding, you’re stressing out over whether your boss is reconsidering your value to the organization.
3. Shorter Trips Can Be Easier On Your Wallet
While three days at a five-star hotel in New York City will almost certainly cost you more than two weeks camping with the family, in general, shorter trips cost less. Of course, if you take enough short trips over the course of a year, they can cost as much or more than one long trip. However, the costs are more spread out, so they can be easier to budget and cover than one big trip.
4. You May Be Able to Earn (and Use) More Rewards On Shorter Trips
If you have a rewards credit card—particularly one that awards you airline miles—taking a series of smaller trips could earn you more rewards than one big trip. And if you’re redeeming credit card airline miles for trips, shorter trips (especially if they’re shorter distances) may cost you less miles than longer trips that are farther away. Since shorter trips are usually easier to schedule, you may also have better luck selecting dates where there are no blackouts with your airline rewards credit card.
5. There’s More to Look Forward to (More Often) With Shorter Trips
A relaxing vacation definitely helps to reduce stress, but it’s not just the trip itself that relaxes you and boosts your mood. A study by Cornell University showed that the anticipation of a trip can do as much to improve your mood and outlook as the actual trip. If you only take one big trip a year, that’s only one anticipation boost annually. On the other hand, if you take five evenly spaced smaller trips throughout the year, you’re getting an anticipation boost to your mood every 2.4 months!
And let’s say you eat up all of your paid time off—or time off you can afford to take if you’re a freelancer or self-employed—on one big trip. It may be months before you have any more time you can take off.
That’s definitely not something to look forward to or get excited about. It ranks right up there with sock shopping.
Before you put pen to paper—or cursor to travel website—in mapping out your next trip, consider going smaller more often. You may not come back as tanned or rested as with a longer vacation, but you may not come home to a stack of credit card bills or hundreds of emails awaiting your urgent attention at work, either. And, if you plan it right, it may only be a couple of months until your next relaxing getaway!