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7 Expert tips for making the most of a short vacation

Do you want to take advantage of an upcoming long weekend? You may have limited vacation days or need a quick escape from the day-to-day hustle; a quick getaway can be ideal for many reasons. Short trips can be easier to plan, more cost-effective, allow you to visit more destinations, help you feel refreshed, and much more.   

Studies by the Journal of Happiness and the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health conclude that shorter, more frequent getaways can improve stress levels and increase long-term happiness.   

A quick holiday can mean anything from finding a short flight to taking a road trip. “It is worth the sacrifice of spending a few hours on a plane to get to a fun and exciting destination!” CAA Travel Consultant Michele Moore says.  

“I often tell my clients; we often forget to look for the jewels in our backyard. There’s so much to discover locally,” CAA Travel Consultant Samantha Valcin explains.   

Going on a short vacation can be a great way to escape the daily grind and recharge your batteries, but with limited time, maximizing the time away is essential. Here are some tips from travel experts for making the most of a short vacation. 

Plan ahead

Before you leave for your trip, take some time to preplan. Make a list of the top attractions or activities you want to prioritize based on what’s most important to you. Having a list will help you make the most of your time and ensure you don’t miss out on anything at the top of your priority list. 

Stay in a central location

When selecting your accommodation, choose a central location close to the attractions you want to see. While more central hotels can cost a bit more, they will save you time and money on transportation and allow you to maximize your limited time. 

Aerial view of a white sand cay in the Caribbean sea with turquoise waters
apomares | iStock

Opt for shorter flights

If you’re travelling by air, consider choosing a destination that is within a shorter flight time. Picking a city you can fly to quickly, without any long layovers, will give you more time to enjoy your vacation and help you avoid the jet lag that can come with longer flights.   

“The Bahamas, Mayan Riviera Mexico, Varadero Cuba or Las Vegas are excellent options because there are frequent flights throughout the week and they are only a few hours away,” Michele Moore states.   

As of June 27, 2023, you can fly directly from Ottawa to the Charles De Gaulle Airport in Paris, France, making a shorter European getaway easier this summer.   

Take advantage of early mornings and late nights

When you’re on a short vacation, every minute counts; try to wake up early to take advantage of the quiet hours in the morning to explore the city with fewer tourists around. Fewer crowds will make it easier to take better photos, and you can take advantage of shorter wait times at attractions. Or, if you are more of a night owl, you can stay up to see the nightlife or stroll around the city. 

Use public transportation

Public transportation can save you time and money, as it’s often faster and less expensive than taking a taxi or renting a car. In addition, using public transportation can allow you to see the city like a local and experience the culture.  

Many cities across the globe have smart cards that you can purchase to make using public transportation more convenient. When planning your vacation, confirm if and how to buy the public transit card so you don’t need to waste time standing in lines getting one-way tickets. 

Try local food

martinedoucet | iStock

One of the best parts of travelling is trying new foods. When you’re on a short vacation, try to make the most of your meals and experience the culture on another level by eating regional cuisine. Ask locals for recommendations or research before you leave to find the best local restaurants. 

Don’t over-plan

While planning is essential, leaving some room for spontaneity is also important. Don’t over plan your days, as this can leave you feeling rushed and stressed. Instead, leave some time to wander and discover new things.   

Pinning a bunch of activities and restaurants in Google Maps is a great way to have a list of ideas handy. Once you hit your top priority attractions, you can quickly check what else is nearby.   

Whether it’s a weekend getaway, a quick trip to Europe, or a family vacation, a CAA Travel Consultant can help you make the most of your short holiday. Book an appointment online to start planning.   

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