You can reach the Caribbean in four hours and Europe in six. This allows for you to take advantage of three-day weekends to explore a new place without using any coveted vacation days.

Places like Iceland, London, Paris, and Norway are all easily accessible with non-stop flights and short flight times.  And during the winter, a lot of the places in the North are affordable because of less than ideal weather.

Don’t let that stop you – Oslo and Norway is gorgeous in December. For best value and cost you really should consider the Caribbean and Central America.

Panama, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic and Mexico are all short and great value countries to go.


Schedule Flights Carefully

When picking a destination, try to limit yourself to less than ten hours of flight time.

Ideally, six to eight hours nonstop is best.  Redeyes are your friend.  Spending time on a plane that you would normally be in bed for is an optimal use of time.

Not only do you save on hotel expenses, but also you are not wasting daylight.  Try to take a late redeye on Friday night and arrive early Saturday morning.

If you are on the East Coast, then coming back, you should try to book a late afternoon Monday flight because you will land approximately the same time that you depart.    


Choose the Right Accommodation

Make sure to book a hotel that is close to major attractions, but not one that is too expensive – if you’re doing a whirlwind trip right, you won’t be spending much time in your hotel room.

Getting one in a centralized location is especially important if you are going on a tour that is going to pick you up.  It’s worth it to spend a little more so that you won’t have to spend time in transit.   


Book a Tour

And speaking of money, spend it on tours.

My favorite when I first land is to book a food tour – that way you get to experience the local cuisine, and also most are walking tours that point out the major attractions.

Exploring on your own when you are only in a place for two to three days can be inefficient, especially if a major attraction is outside of the city.  For example in Iceland, I booked a food tour, two nights of Northern Lights tours, and a day on the South Coast.

This will be a little more money, but will maximize what you are exposed to.  Additionally, interacting with the local tour guides will lead to invaluable recommendations.


Plan Your Short Vacation from the US East Coast

Will you be exhausted?  Yes.  And Tuesday at work will be unpleasant, but while other people spent their holiday weekend at a barbeque, you were able to really live.  

By Jen Glass