During breakfast on a recent business trip to New York City, I chatted with a young executive from Chicago who came to the Big Apple for a long weekend vacation. When I asked her why she hadn’t planned to stay longer, she said, “I wish I could but my boss frowns upon us being out of the office for more than a few days.”
“But it’s your vacation,” I said.
“I used to not take any vacations until I discovered that short trips and long weekends work best,” she responded. “I don’t want management to think I’m a slacker. Lazy feet don’t eat.”
Are you one of the 47% of Americans who refuse vacations because it’s too stressful to plan a big getaway or you’re concerned you might send corporate honchos the image you’re not a team player? If so, you might consider a new trend called micro-cations—short getaways of fewer than five nights such as a four-day weekend to attend a wedding or family event.
According to the 2019 Vacation Confidence Index released by Allianz Global Assistance, 57% of Americans chose not to take a leisure trip longer than four nights in 2018. These micro-cations increased in popularity last year among all age groups—Millennials (72%), Gen-Xers (69%) and Baby Boomers (60%). Travelers are taking several micro-cations over the course of a year instead of a week or two-week vacation in one fell swoop because they can’t take that much time off. A study by Bankrate.com found that 39 million Americans say they’re skipping vacations because they can’t afford them. Short trips are easier to plan, more affordable and less stressful being away from the office for too long.
Tips For Your Next Micro-cation
If vacations are too stressful or make you feel guilty or worry about being too far away from your job, consider some of these tips so you can take the guilt-free micro-cation you deserve.
1. Plan ahead. Have a special fund for your micro-cation and build it over the course of a year—even if it’s just a small amount at a time. After a few months, you might be surprised that you’ve accrued enough funds to afford a less expensive micro-cation.
2. Drive instead of fly. If it’s too stressful to catch a plane, save money and time by driving to a location somewhere close for a few days. Consider booking a hotel in your hometown, hang out by the pool and frequent local places of interest.
3. Take a day trip. Consider a day trip to a fun place in your own state where you’ve been itching to go but haven’t had time: a hike in a state park, a tour of a local zoo or a picnic in a park.
4. Check out special micro-cation deals. Some worldwide hotels and resorts have begun to cater to micro-cationers with special deals and packages for three or four night getaways.
5. Turn events into micro-cations. Kill two birds with one stone by turning special events such as weddings, birthdays or reunions into a micro-cation. A trip to visit family or friends also saves money and eliminates the stress of navigating an unfamiliar place.
6. Take a stay-cation. Sometimes vacationing at home is the least expensive, most relaxing and fun vacation of all. Unplug from your usual household chores and enjoy different activities around the house that you never have time for such as gardening, a special hobby, soaking in a long hot bath or relaxing with a good book. Or take advantage of local activities you miss on a daily basis such as yoga, massage or a meditation or workout class.
A Final Word
As we finished breakfast, the young Chicago executive said now that she takes several micro-cations a year her colleagues ask where she gets the financial means to travel so often. “Now I’ve developed a reputation for being away from the office too much,” she said. “Sometimes I feel like I can’t win.”
Regardless of what coworkers say or how you’re perceived, there comes a point you must prioritize your self-care no matter what. Nobody else can or will do that for you. And time away from the office—vacation, micro-cation or stay-cation—is an important part of any good self-care plan. You’ve worked hard and deserve time off from your job. It heals your mind, body and spirit, clears your head and gives you a perspective on life you can’t get immersed in the daily grind. A micro-cation just might be the ticket for you to return to work refreshed and restored. Whatever you decide make sure off times fit your interests and lifestyle—that they’re affordable, non-stressful and easy and fun.