When you have a full time job and fit travel around the edges, you tend to think that you can only take two or three vacations a year. However, with careful planning, you can really extend the number of vacations you can fit in. I take a few week long vacations every year or even ten day vacations, but I try to schedule them around a three day weekend and work the Saturday at the end of the trip. I hoard all the days I can to create three day vacations to explore a nearby location. I can fit in about twenty extra mini vacations a year with this mindset, although some are only Friday night to Sunday evening.
Here are a few tips to make the most of your vacation time:
Consider traveling to nearby locations for these mini trips to make the most of your time. I try to keep my drive time to eight hours or less and leave the night I finish work (or catch red eye flights if I am going further afield) so I end up waking up the first morning of my vacation in the place I am exploring.
Know Your Holiday Schedule
Look at your work holiday calendar at the beginning of the year and pinpoint all holidays that are not going to create traffic headaches. For example, Veteran’s Day weekend is a perfect holiday for an extended vacation. (Bonus! Free entrance to National Parks in the USA all weekend! It is a great time to visit a battlefield to pay tribute to veterans from generations past. If National Parks aren’t your thing, check out events in a small town you’d like to explore and see when their parades and celebrations are scheduled.)
Plan an Itinerary
Even if you are usually a pantser during long trips, it is important to figure out exactly what you’ll be doing on these shorter trips. Otherwise, you’ll spend too much of your short vacation figuring out what to do and where to do it. It doesn’t have to be an elaborate itinerary, but knowing where you want to eat your meals, which museum you want to visit and how much beach time you want is key to feeling like you’ve managed to actually see the place you’re visiting.
Look for Sales
Put every extended weekend on your calendar and make a note of the places you’d like to visit. Then, keep an eye on Groupon, hotels.com, etc. to see if any of them come up with a good sale on accommodations or events. When you see a deal come through, consult your calendar and book it. I’ve noticed that if I don’t plan ahead like this, I will get to the weekend in question and discover all the affordable and fun places are booked. While I’d like to spend a weekend in Lititz, I would prefer to spend less than $300 a night and I would like my accommodations to be part of the experience. Planning ahead lets me find a cool B&B where I can actually help with the farm chores in the morning and get a home cooked farmhouse breakfast over staying in a bland chain hotel.
Plan Your Work Schedule
Try to plan your work schedule to get more out of your weekend. Many times, I work the Friday shift instead of Saturday when there is a Monday holiday. If I ask to switch to the Tuesday night shift, I’ve got all morning Tuesday to get home and can enjoy three nights at my vacation location.
Do you plan mini vacations to locations that are close by? If so, what tips do you have to help make the most of the time?