Getting the most out of a 3-day vacation

According to the 2017 Alamo Family Vacation Survey, Americans are reluctant to take longer vacations, in part due to “vacation shaming,” or being made to feel a sense of guilt by co-workers or supervisors or taking time off. Millennials especially seem to be the latest generation of workaholics, and the survey showed they are the least likely age group to use all of their vacation days.

The Alamo survey also showed that for the first time in the survey’s history, less than half of workers who received paid vacation used all of their vacation days. The survey showed that the average length of vacations for 36 percent of families is three to five days, compared to 40 percent of non-families. Further research from hotel comparison platform HotelsCombined revealed that the average length of stay for both international and domestic trips for American travelers in 2017 was 2.2 nights.

Whether it’s because our co-workers give us grief, or simply because a two-week trip is too expensive, the 3-day weekend vacation is gaining in popularity. Shorter trips are obviously more affordable, and so long as there is not too much travel time involved, the long weekend trip can still be fulfilling, exciting, and adventurous. In fact, the majority of millennials would prefer to take more, shorter trips throughout the year, rather than a single, longer trip.

Advance planning, yes or no?

A longer trip may require more advance planning, booking months ahead, and planning for things like doggy day-care, house-sitters and making sure the mail and newspaper have been put on hold. While you still need to find some accommodations for your pet, the shorter duration makes the other planning tasks a lot easier, and often unnecessary.

Last-minute two-week vacations are all but impossible, but a two, three or four-day vacations can be more spontaneous, especially when you follow travel sites’ “hot deals” pages.

Tips for the three-day weekend

A big-budget two-week vacation may be fast becoming obsolete for most Americans, but the three-day weekend is more popular than ever. Planning for the long weekend getaway is easier, and one major benefit is that by taking multiple short trips throughout the year as opposed to a single long one, travelers are able to enjoy more destinations and experiences.

A few things to make that short trip as enjoyable as possible include being spontaneous. Watch for special last-minute deals, and be flexible enough to take advantage of them when they cross your radar.

Travel experts recommend that you don’t try to do everything in the space of three days. A vacation – regardless of duration – should be relaxing. Don’t feel as though, since you are only taking three days, you have to rush to do everything. A weekend in Washington DC for example can be a wonderful trip – the Smithsonian alone makes it worthwhile. But if you try to see every single museum in the Smithsonian over the course of three days, you will leave feel cheated, and you will not have had an opportunity to truly appreciate the magnificence of this national treasure. Choose what you want to see ahead of time, and take time to enjoy it. The National Gallery of Art alone should be an all-day trip (with lunch in their fabulous on-site Garden Café).

By the same token, if you’re visiting New York City for a weekend, the options can be overwhelming. Planning on seeing a Broadway show? Plan your trip around that singular event. Stay at a hotel near the theater district, and you will probably be within walking distance of the MOMA and Central Park, and of course, some incredible shopping opportunities.

You may be tempted to save money by looking for hotels on the other side of the bridge, but at the end of the weekend, you will have spent far too much time in taxicabs going into Manhattan, and not enough time enjoying the sights you came to see. And besides, there’s nothing like having a luxurious hotel close to what you want to see, so you can take a break mid-afternoon and relax before heading back out.

If you’re feeling pressure from work, or just don’t have the funds for a two-week adventure, the long weekend gives you more options, and the chance to break away guilt-free for some much needed personal pleasure and excitement.

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