The most frequently asked questions that I receive regarding travel is “Why did you go on such a short trip?” My cocktail party answer is simply to say that it was worth it, but there’s a little more to it than that.
The first time anyone asked about the duration of a trip, I had just gotten back from 3 days in Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica. In that time I learned to surf, saw sloths and monkeys, zip-lined, and did yoga every morning, just to name a few highlights. I was rejuvenated, and happy to have gone, even if it was only for a short time.
It wasn’t until months later that I realized my travel style was a little unique. I traveled to 5 countries in Europe last summer, in just under 3 weeks. The trip included 4 days in London, and many people were quick to point out that 4 days wasn’t enough time to see everything. The more conversations like this I had, the more I realized that my thinking around travel was different than that of some of the people that I was talking to.
The common element in all of these conversations was value. Many people believe that you have to travel for longer to get good value out of your trip. As a result, they weren’t traveling. They were waiting for the time, money, and perfect window with no birthdays, weddings, or commitments. I started to think about why I felt so comfortable taking short trips, and came up with 3 core reasons.
1. Go short, or don’t go at all. I have yet to identify a multi-month time span in my life that would be ideal to travel the globe, without giving up other things that are important to me. Family, jobs, education, and other commitments mean that not everyone wants to (or can) jet off for months at time. This doesn’t mean that you can’t travel, it just means that you have to make the most of the time and resources that you have.
2. Place value on experiences, not duration. Many of us live in a more-is-better type of society. When it comes to travelling, we often apply this thinking to trip duration, rather than to new experiences.
Imagine asking a friend how their trip was, and getting an answer like “I drank 36 cups of tea, took the tube 16 times, saw 26 historical sites, and took 483,125 steps in 28 days.” That’s a list, not an experience! You would rather hear a short story about an interesting, unique experience that only lasted 15 minutes. One such story might be your hypothetical friend telling you that she had to ask where the eggs were 3 times in a small, two aisle English grocery store. They turned out to be directly in front of her, on a shelf instead of in the fridge like they are in Canada.
3. You can hit your bucket list items. The longer the trip, the more money you’ll have to put towards accommodations and food. Even if you’ve found a bargain, that’s just the reality. While there are a lot of free things to see and do in most places, there are probably a few items on your bucket list that cost a little bit more. I personally prefer to prioritize bucket list experiences. I would rather have tea in the Buckingham Palace gardens than take photos from outside.
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Change your mentality, and start seeing the world.
I would rather go for a short period of time than not go at all. I would rather go for a few days and do the things that I really want to do. I would rather experience things than see them. I would rather go now, than wait until some perfect opening in my calendar.
My short trips have taught me to change my thinking around travel. I do not believe that “if you’re going, go for longer.” If I had allowed that idea to shape my life and my attitude towards travel, I don’t think I would have gone anywhere yet!
I have a mindset that is something more like “if you’re going, make it awesome.” Longer trips might be for you, but if they’re not an option, don’t let that stop you. Go and do the things that you want to do. Go and travel your way.
Have you taken an awesome short trip? Planning to in the near future? What do you think of my reasons to take short tips? Let me know below!