It's a common misconception about travel: that, in order for it to “really be travel,” you have to spend tons of money and go really far away.
But this couldn't be further from the truth. You can travel without using your passport, without getting on a plane, and without spending thousands of dollars.
How, you ask?
It's pretty simple, really: you travel closer to home! I've touted the idea of the long weekend trip before, and now want to take it one step further and talk about the “small-cation,” or weekend trip.
Can you really “travel” in just a weekend, though? Well yes, yes you can.
Weekend trips are actually great ways to break up your routine and relax without sacrificing any of those precious vacation days. You can still discover new places, have adventures, and make great memories – all within the time you usually have off from work anyway.
And the popularity of weekend trips is on the rise. According to Enterprise's Annual Weekend Getaway Survey, 85 percent of respondents say they plan to take a weekend trip in 2018, up from 78 percent in 2017. That's a lot of weekend getaways!
So let's talk more about these small-cations. Why should you take them, and how can you make them feel like a legitimate vacation?
The benefits of a small-cation
The benefits of taking a break from your regular routine are many and well-documented. Going on vacation – no matter how short or long – can help reduce stress, increase productivity when you do go back to work, and generally just make you happier. (In fact, even just looking forward to a trip can release enough good endorphins to positively affect your mood.)
And the benefits of indulging in weekend getaways go even further.
You can take more of them!
The best thing about a weekend trip is that it doesn't require you to take much (if any) time off work – meaning you can pack a LOT more weekend trips into your annual schedule. This means more breaks from routine, more chances to de-stress, and more fun trips to look forward to.
My husband, Elliot, and I try to plan a weekend getaway at least a few times a year when we can't squeeze in longer trips. These are great opportunities for us to make memories together that go beyond what we normally do at home. Traveling with a significant other can definitely bring you closer as a couple.
They won't break the bank
Going on a weekend trip will usually mean traveling fairly close to home – which means you won't be shelling out for expensive plane tickets. You'll also be saving money on accommodation and meals since you're looking at a 2-day trip instead of a 2-week one.
They're easier to plan
When you only have to figure out 2 nights of accommodation and a couple of activities, a trip can be much easier to plan. The most time-consuming part of planning a weekend trip is often just deciding on where to go!
Plus, when you're just going away for the weekend, you don't have to worry about getting vacation time approved at work or planning really far in advance; you can be slightly more spontaneous with a small-cation.
It's easier to disconnect
In that survey by Enterprise, people cited reasons like stress (43 percent), news (39 percent), the current political climate (38 percent), and social media (24 percent) as reasons why they wanted to escape for a couple of days.
In today's digital age, this makes sense. Along with a break from the stressors of work and other obligations, we all need a break from the constant barrage of social media updates and political drama, too.
Your brain actually NEEDS downtime from things like this – and it's much easier to disconnect and ignore the news and notifications when you're just going away for a weekend.
How to plan a weekend away that actually feels like a vacation
So now that we've talked about WHY you should consider planning a small-cation, let's talk about how to make the most of such a short trip.
Pick somewhere that's close
Technically, you could plan an awesome stay-cation and not even leave home. But if you're craving more of an escape, then I recommend choosing a destination that's no more than 2-3 hours away by car. Any further away, and your weekend might feel rushed.
Elliot and I recently took a weekend trip down to Columbus, Ohio, which is only 2 hours away from where we live in northeast Ohio. It was far enough away that we still felt like we were “going somewhere,” but not so far that we had to spend the whole day traveling to get there.
You can use a weekend trip to visit those close-by places that you always write off as uninteresting because they aren't far away, or that you tell yourself will always be around to visit “later.” Well, now is the perfect time!
(And for those of you who are about to say “But there's nothing interesting near me!,” I'd tell you to check again; I guarantee there's something cool nearby – you just might not know about yet.)
Stay in the middle of the action
When you're searching for a hotel or B&B or any other type of accommodation, consider staying downtown or close to whatever attractions/activities you're planning to see or do in order to maximize your time away.
Don't be afraid to splurge a little bit, either, if you can. Nothing screams “vacation” quite like handing your keys over to a valet, snuggling into a cozy robe, or relaxing in the hotel spa. If you're only going to be gone for a night or two, you might be able to justify spending the extra money to stay somewhere you'd never consider for a longer trip.
Seek out unique things to do, see, and eat
Even though you might not be far from home, that doesn't mean you can't find unique things to do on your small-cation.
For example, for our trip down to Columbus, Elliot and I sought out some things to do that we can't do at home. Things like touring a local distillery, trying out axe throwing, and even taking a falconry class! Since these things were unique to Columbus, it felt like we were truly discovering a new destination, even though we were still in Ohio.
This one might seem like a strange suggestion, especially if you're not the type of person (ahem, like a blogger) who takes photos of everything anyway. But hear me out!
Taking photos of the unique things you're seeing and doing – and especially taking photos with your partner or family or whoever you're traveling with – can help make the trip seem more special and vacation-like.
Consider turning your cellular data off
Since chances are that you're using your small-cation to try to get away from things like news and emails, consider turning off your cellular data while you're gone – or, at least turn it off while you're out doing things during the day. This will minimize distractions, and help you be fully present for your short time away.
It might seem strange at first to not be scrolling through Facebook or answering text messages whenever you have a spare second, but you'd be surprised at how quickly you get used to the freedom from your smartphone!
How Enterprise can help with your weekend getaway
For those of you who live in bigger cities and don't have a car – or for those who want to give their cars a little break – Enterprise has more than 5,800 offices located within 15 miles of 90 percent of the U.S. population. Book a rental car from your local neighborhood location, and head off on your weekend adventure.
And for additional trip inspiration, visit Enterprise.com/Pursuits.
Who's ready to plan a small-cation now? Where would you like to go?
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