With all the hustle, stress, struggles, and the sacrifices we have to go through in order to make a living, I won’t blame you if every now and then you plan a short vacation for the next weekend just to get away from it all!

After a few short months, I have a strong feeling your feet will feel the itch again for another one. This is the story of young working professionals across the globe today. Even if this is the case, they still open communication lines and bring some work along while travelling. (Especially, Millennials; they insert small pockets of time for work while vacationing just to make sure they don’t lag behind on projects upon getting back to work). Who can blame them? All of us deserve to take breathers every once in a while. In fact, many of the people I have interviewed expressed a revelation. To them: travel is not luxury, it’s necessity.

In light of this, I’ve compiled a list of tips from travel experts to make the most of your time while disappearing this weekend.

Time-maximizing tips you can pocket before flying

Plan ahead.

As soon as you have decided where you want to go, ask in advance for time off from work, and inform your boss exactly when you want to take the trip. That way, you’ll know in advance if you’ll get the schedule you’ve chosen or not. Either way, you can prepare much sooner. This will ensure that once you leave the office on the prearranged date, you’ll just need a quick bath, carry your luggage, and be on your way. You will not waste time packing and preparing since you’ve done that earlier.

Extend your weekend getaway.

Don’t settle for a 2-day weekend. You can target a schedule where you can have a 3-day weekend, or, better yet, go for a schedule where Monday is a holiday, and then ask for a day off on a Friday before that particular holiday-Monday so you can assemble a 4-day weekend. This will give you additional two days to sightsee and enjoy your destination.

Prioritize.

Create a list of your must-sees and must-dos during your planning period. Answer the question: What is important to you? Think of something you can’t afford not seeing or doing. Mark that as your priority and plan to do it before anything else. Schedule it. Make the necessary reservations. Do everything you need to do to prepare for that item on your list.

One of my friends said, “when my family went to Florence, I knew my wife wanted to behold the city as the sun sets. The statue of David wasn’t that important to her, so it was positioned last in our list.” Their vacation ended without visiting the statue, but they don’t feel bad. They are happy they had the opportunity to see and experience the items on top of their list.

Get some shut- eye.

If your trip is overnight, make the most of it by getting a good night sleep. Even if (yeah, it’s a given) the quality of sleep you’ll get on a bus or a plane is way poorer than your sleep in your own bed, you can do something to improve your chances of getting a good one by bringing shut-eye paraphernalia: an eye mask, Ostrich Pillow, and SleepPhones to create your own little doze sanctuary on the plane or bus.

Factor in your destination time zone.

Travel expert  says, if you live in Chicago– and as much as you love to go to Asia or Europe– when it comes to traveling over a limited time (e.g. the 4-day weekend I suggested above), it is much wiser to fly south.

Why? Let me explain. First, time zones are close. The time difference between Chicago, Central and South America is just a few hours apart; the best part is in Central, there’s no time difference. As a consequence, your body won’t need to adjust and abruptly shift to a seven-hour time change. Surely, you wouldn’t want that! It may leave you sluggish for many hours which can spell a disaster. Remember, your trip is ultra short already.

Second, overnight flights are a better option; with them, time can be used more cleverly. Lots of flights going to South American countries like Colombia, Chile, Argentina, Brazil have red-eyes that depart from Miami, Houston, or Fort Lauderdale around midnight and arrive in the morning. If, like my friend, you can drink a glass of wine and after a few minutes be ready to doze off anywhere (in this case) on the plane, it would be easy to decide and take this trip, because, you can fall asleep in Miami and wake up in Rio. Simple.

Stay in a hostel.

OK, hostels are cheap, but that’s not the only reason they’re a great place to stay. Being billeted in a hostel makes it easy to meet people and explore parts of the city that tourists may usually miss. I suggest you hang out in the common areas. They are commonly full of fun-seeking travelers like you, local guides looking for gigs, and bulletin boards filled with posters and flyers promoting local activities and festivals.

Rent a bike instead of a car.

Biking around with the aim of having an adventure is one of the most effective ways of getting to know a new place. It’s obviously faster than walking, but slow enough to let you stop and visit a house museum or a quirky shop if that’s your fancy. And since you’re the navigator (and not a taxi driver) you’ll get acquainted to the town more quickly. Besides, you can hit the breaks and snap photos of hidden scenic spots whenever your inner artist prompts you to.

Book a hostel near the action.

This is self explanatory. If you stay near the places you want to see and want to be in close proximity to the activities you want to do, you’ll be quicker getting to them, and, for sure, you’ll be able to allot more time exploring the place.

Make an itinerary.

After you have set your priorities, start reserving spots and buying tickets for unique experiences your destination can offer, and schedule the rest of your vacation days around the top priorities in your list.

Do your assignment; find out the length of time it takes to get from activity A to activity B. It’s as easy as breathing to make your weekend’s itinerary with minimal wasted time. Creating an itinerary may even help you make more time to fit in additional precious experiences at your chosen destination!

Do you have other ideas? Don’t hesitate to share them.

Featured photo credit: Plane above the head/Deniz Altindas via unsplash.com

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