Why Small Vacations Are Better Stress-Busters Than Long Ones

Take short and frequent trips rather than long vacations to get away from news and politics

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Are news and political headlines driving you to want to get away? If so, you're not alone.

Do today’s headlines make you want to get away from it all? And when you do get away, do you ever feel you need a vacation just to recover from your vacation? If so, you’re not alone. For the sake of your mental health, not only should you take vacations, but taking more frequent trips for a smaller period can help combat stress. And, they are good for overall well-being.

According to Enterprise’s annual weekend getaway survey, politics and news are driving more people to hit the open road in 2018. In fact, when asked why they want to escape more than in 2017, the top reasons included: stress (43 percent), news (39 percent), the current political climate (38 percent) and social media (24 percent). As a result, 85 percent of respondents say they plan to take a weekend trip this year, up from 78 percent in 2017. Of those planning a getaway, 93 percent say they want at least one of their trips to be a true escape — not reading news or email while they’re away — and one in four respondents say getting off social media enables them to truly get away. The bottom line: this year’s political climate and 24/7 news cycle are weighing heavily on peoples’ state of mind, and they are taking action by disconnecting and hitting the road.

I’ve partnered with Enterprise Rent-A-Car to serve as spokesperson for a campaign that highlights the benefits of taking a small-cation. What’s a small-cation? Well, it’s the idea that taking more frequent, small trips for a shorter period of time, smaller budget and closer to home can reap large benefits for your overall well-being.

From an emotional and well-being perspective, smaller vacations pack a bigger punch than longer ones. To illustrate this, think of those times when maybe you were so busy that you simply didn’t have time to get adequate sleep and you attempted to make up for it by sleeping in during the weekend. Although on Saturday you may have felt well-rested, binge sleeping just doesn’t provide the same benefits as getting proper healthy sleep throughout the week. Similar to other pleasures in life — indulgences on a favorite food, seeing friends, and fun activities — being able to participate in it more often is better than simply once per year.

Embrace these ideas to start your small-cation planning for 2018:

  1. Know that happiness and pleasure are made up of anticipation, experience, and memories. With that, get motivated with more trips to look forward to. By taking frequent trips that are smaller in scale, you introduce new experiences into your world.
  2. Smaller breaks are easier to take than one long vacation. Many of my clients stress out over the often complicated and expensive planning of a long trip. There are also high expectations that are self-imposed or placed by society to have a flawless and grand vacation. Rarely does this happen. There are weather conditions to deal with, flight delays, and other things that could get between you and that desired perfect getaway. By contrast, the start-up stress associated with a shorter vacation is less and expectations are lower. By taking frequent, smaller vacations, you eliminate the mourning of a long trip that often occurs and also have something to look forward to sooner rather than later. A small amount of planning and time away can reap large rewards.
  3. It’s easier to disconnect on a shorter trip than on a longer one.  On long vacations, it often takes people a few days to disconnect from work and get into “vacation mode.” Whereas with short getaways, people know it’s just a couple days, and they’re more able to turn off work for a brief period, knowing they’ll be able to check emails and deal with any work issues in a few days.
  4. A shorter drive could equal less stress. A small-cation means a shorter period of time and a shorter distance away. Driving gives you the chance to see things on the journey that might otherwise be missed on a plane. The traveling becomes part of the experience and memory, and gives you a chance to rent a car that you never thought you’d be able to drive. Trade in your wheels, go someplace new within just a few hours of home. And, that way you won’t have to worry about mileage or wear and tear on your everyday vehicle.
  5. Less time away means less worry. While on a long vacation people often feel anxious about being away from home and work. Towards the end of their vacation, they start to anticipate all the work that awaits them, and it spoils the remainder of their time away. Once they’re back they’re stressed digging out and catching up. By contrast, a small-cation is less time away from the office and home, so less stress.
  6. Understand your motivation. Ask yourself: what’s your reason for wanting to take a long vacation — bragging rights? To satisfy others’ expectations? My guess is once you give this some thought, your motivation for taking a long one will wane in comparison to the many benefits of taking a small-cation.
  7. Decide what type of getaway you want. Do you prefer relaxation or invigoration? Choose one, stick with it, and don’t try to do too much. A small-cation isn’t about a huge trip; it’s designed to be manageable. Plus, attention spans are short, so keeping it small can also help you maintain focus.

So, while it’s true, most of us typically have time to take one or two bigger, week-long vacations each year, shortly after those trips are over, we find ourselves longing for another escape… and soon. Small-cations allow you to potentially travel with more of your friends and relatives – maybe you’ll go on a weekend trip with your best friend, then another one with a significant other, and yet another one with a close relative.

Another added benefit of driving: you can’t be on your phone so naturally you’ll unplug and disconnect from the otherwise flood of news and get your digital detox in!

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People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.


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