Don't Have The Time For A Long Summer Vacation? Try The Micro-Cation Trend Instead

We all need a break. While the dream might be a two-week beach holiday on a tropical island, a jaunt across the globe where you try out your Duolingo lessons, or an extended cruise that lets you float away from your problems, that thing called real life doesn't always fall into place to make it happen. Fear not, though: You can still be OOO long enough to make it worthwhile (and even Instagram-worthy, if that's your thing) with a micro-cation.

Haven't heard that term before? It's just what it sounds like: a micro-sized vacay, short and sweet. It can be a day, a weekend, a mid-week break, or even as brief as an extended day trip. You might think such a getaway would be over too soon, but capitalizing on the micro-cation trend allows you to get the max out of your short time away, whether your goal is to have fun, relax, explore, or all of the above. Here's what to know to make it a worthwhile experience.

Micro days away mean big advantages

Sometimes a long and far-flung trip can be stressful in the planning and even the execution. But you don't have to forgo the comforts of home for long to indulge in a break –  nor max out those PTO days. Why not make the most of an existing holiday weekend instead?

Even a day or two out of your routine and environment can bring joy, expose you to new things, and give you a travel rush (or, on the flip side, a sense of calm, if that's what you crave). Travel is good for our mental health, and our brains aren't keeping track of whether we're going 50 or 5,000 miles; research published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health shows that even a short vacation can have benefits for our well-being.

A 24- to 48-hour break, or even a longer repite of a few days, means no long-term planning is necessary for leaving the home front (you don't even have to clean out the fridge), and packing is reduced to a small carry-on at most. No long lists or in-depth itinerary organizing also means that the stress of preparing for the trip won't leave you burnt out before it even starts. Plus, those with pets will get a happy wag upon return from their furbabies, who will be grateful that they haven't been left in the care of another and out of their routine for too long.

Strike a deal on an alternative vacation

While international ticket prices can be unpredictable and expensive, there are plenty of shorter, budget-friendly domestic options. If you're flexible in your destination, you'll find plenty of nonstop flights. Keep in mind that big-ticket buys often mean big stress: The weight of "Was it worth it?" can feel like extra baggage when you spend big and go far. Shorter flights often mean less hassle, less time on a plane, and more money in your travel fund. And you might find yourself in a location you hadn't previously had on your bucket list.

It's also a chance to use up some airline points if you have some miles accrued but still not enough for a cross-country flight. Some tourist locations have even hopped on board the growing micro-cation fad with promos, and you can find hotels around the country offering mid-week and short-term getaway packages seemingly tailor-made for the trend.

Consider a two-day urban excursion and get to know an unfamiliar city or underrated small town. Or hunker down in the country for a little R&R — but still be back in time for Sunday dinner. Take a "cruise" on the closest ferry system, or check if Amtrak has a destination you want to see. You can even try a weekend house swap (yes, it's exactly what it sounds like). While there may be comfort in rooting down for a week at the same beach property every summer, thinking outside the travel box can offer a much-needed refresh.