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Typically the post-holiday slump can have many feeling blue for months. The snow that once held magic and wonder now looks slushy, gray and depressing. Bundling up isn’t cozy anymore; it’s cumbersome and has become a nuisance. Not to mention, any chance of a getaway — whether still in school or out — is now months away with spring break, waving from a far sunnier, far distant future.

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Though this New Year malaise, as it could be called, might seem incurable … there is hope. It’s called the three-day weekend. One planned spontaneously can do more than grant a reprieve from a full work week, it can also spark some excitement back into the spirit, enabling you to better live in the moment and see opportunity where you once doubted there could be.

Typical vacations can rack up expenses, time-off, and — more or less — stress, but an unplanned three-day weekend is perfect because it centers around one thing: breaking up the monotony to just get gone.

To take full advantage of an impromptu mini-trip, craft an adventure with these considerations in mind:

Choose a destination with a drive time of 4-6 hours, which is easily justifiable during a three-day weekend. That’s approximately the amount of time that you’d spend from drop-off to pick-up if you were flying somewhere farther, as well as being the longest amount of time in a car before it gets too long. Unlike flying, you also have the option of choosing when you depart, where you stop for food, and who you’re seated next to (in most cases).

Driving 4-6 hours also widens the possibility of places that you probably wouldn’t choose to visit during a normal weekend, or might even forsake visiting if you had more time off. Is there a town on the map that has a funny name? Choose it! Is there a national park or Great Lake in the distance? Go for it! Is there a quirky inn that takes online reservations? Book it! Consider the three-day weekend like an unconventional friend, you might never expect where they take you, but you’re guaranteed a good laugh and a great story at the very least.

PS. Drive times of that length are perfect for catching up on podcasts or the latest audio book. 

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Once you decide on a location, do some loose research around your interests. Remember, the goal with mini-trips isn’t to be touristy, but to give yourself permission to experience something you wouldn’t normally have the time for. It might not be perfect or planned to the letter, but the luxury of a three-day vacation is that it isn’t a week-long or a ten-day one. With less pressure to cram it all in comes an increased awareness of what really matters … to you.

Some examples:

  • Are you a budding barista? Find out where the locals get their brew and camp out there for a few hours with a book or your favorite magazine.
  • Foodie at heart? No one can resist a good meal pic, so search Instagram (hashtag the city you’re visiting) and take note of places that look appetizing or unique. Then, grab a reservation for yourself on the ride and get to plotting the perfect filter.
  • Come alive in the outdoors? Plan for a hike (or similar outdoor activity) the evening of day one and the morning of day three, bookending the long stretches of time you’ll spend traveling in the car.

Now that your destination is confirmed and you have a rough sketch of an itinerary, here are a few extra details to ensure your time away is well played:

  • Pack once, wear it twice: Practice simplicity with your luggage. Unless you plan to do a lot of high-intensity workouts, one pair of jeans and a pair of leggings (two pairs if it’s especially cold) should be all that you need. The leggings can serve double duty as sleeping gear and traveling attire, while the jeans can be worn while you’re out during the day. Two tees or knit shirts, plus a sweater or sweatshirt will complete your weekend attire, as will your winter coat. If you want more variety, bring an extra hat or scarf to swap out during your trip.
  • More than three’s a crowd: Though it can be fun to travel with big groups, when you’re short on time you don’t want to spend a bulk of it deciding who wants to do what, where to meet up with who, and how to split the check. Consider keeping your three-day getaway to a maximum of three people. Not only will this grant more leg room in the car, but you’ll be able to have intentional conversation and better quality time with everyone you’re with.
  • Leave early: Getting a head-start on the first day of your trip will enable you to get the most out of your destination when you arrive, especially if you’re able to have both lunch and dinner there. The morning will seem like a distant memory, even if you have to eat dinner later than you normally do, which can trick your mind into thinking you’ve been away longer than you really have.
  • And leave early-ish: Likewise, depart early enough so that you can get home on day three before dinner. This will give you enough time to fall back into your routine and get prepared for the week ahead without feeling overwhelmed. Eating dinner in a place that’s familiar will set your mind at ease and have you wondering if you really left at all.

Are you inspired to take advantage of the next three-day weekend? Where do you want to go?

Images via Morgan Ashley Photography


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