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How to Pack Long Trips into Weekend Getaways

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Remember those big, honking two-week vacations?

The ones where we had to get a neighbor kid to pick up our mail, spent a small fortune on dog boarding, and shut off the water supply to our house… just in case.

No, the two-week vacation isn’t dead yet. But for many Americans — for reasons ranging from requesting time off for work to accommodating the kids’ commitments — it’s simply no longer a practical reality.

That brings us to weekend getaways, an increasingly popular alternative to one- or two-week trips that often couple the weekend with an extra day on either side. Here’s the things about “micro-vactions:” they shouldn’t be considered settling or a back-up plan. With the right planning, itinerary, discipline and travel insurance plan, it’s possible to deflate a 14-day sojourn into a three-day getaway with fewer compromises than you might expect.

In this article, we’ll detail the upside and benefits of weekend getaways vs. traditional, longer vacations, provide some tips on how to pack an itinerary into just three days, and reveal some of the key reasons travel insurance is a must-have for shorter trips.

The Upside of Weekend Getaways

Repackaging and condensing a traditional long-form vacation into weekend getaways comes with plenty of appeal. First, there’s the spontaneity factor. Don’t underestimate the value of booking travel that delivers near instant gratification. You might spend months or more planning and anticipating your two-week summer vacation, carefully coordinating where to stay for 10 nights, where to eat 30 meals, as well as plotting out all the other Xs and Os. But planning a weekend getaway is much easier. You can coordinate the details and book it over lunch, counting down the mere weeks or days until departure.

Then there is the no-brainer benefit of cost. Yes, traveling over the weekend may come at a bit more of a premium than during the week, in terms of hotel rates and airfare (more on this below.) But the fact that you’re only away from home for three-ish days presents a much more approachable budget. To illustrate this point, let’s do the quick and dirty math, comparing a hypothetical 3-day getaway to a 10-day vacation. Let’s assume that your daily spend per day for the three-day trip per person is $250, including accommodations, meals, and attractions. Let’s then assume that your average daily spend for that 10-day trip is $200, applying a bit of a discount to account for advanced booking discounts, weekday stays and other factors. That adds up to a grand total of $2,000 per person for the 10-day trip and $750 per person for the three-day trip. That’s a savings of $1,250 per person for the shorter trip!

There is also avoiding the anxiety of taking all your work vacation days in one big trip, as opposed to sprinkling some here and some there.

With all these factors taken together, it’s not hard to swallow the growing belief that shorter vacations are less stressful, with this peace of mind tied to everything from less time spent packing to lower costs — and the fact that you’ll have more weekend getaways to anticipate down the road. It’s always a bit of a downer when you return from your one annual vacation in the middle of March — and have 12-months-plus before your next getaway.1

How to Fit a Traditional Trip into a Weekend Getaway

With a weekend getaway, it’s all about maximizing your time. Don’t worry, we have a few tips to get you there…

Choose the right destination

Adventure travel spots, relaxing win- tasting trips, and other in destinations built for long-lasting itineraries are best to be avoided for weekend trips. In addition to keeping commute times and distances top of mind when trip planning, think about how much time you’ll spend in lines or searching for parking spots once you arrive, too. In fact, sometimes destinations that are a bit more remote can make sense if, once you arrive, there are no flocks of travelers to deal with. Take Great Basin National Park in eastern Nevada. It features an inviting cave system, endless trails, and spectacular views of the night sky — including the ability to see five planets. And it’s one of the least visited national parks, meaning that no tourists or traffic to contend with. If you’re within half a day’s drive or closer, it could very well make sense to make tracks toward Great Basin.2, 3

Get into the ‘This, Not That’ Way of Thinking

Do you really want to move into and out of a rental house over a weekend? Didn’t think so, which is why a hotel makes more since for shorter trips. Likewise, try and pack lean. The task of packing and unpacking a dozen bags a few times each can really crater an otherwise magical weekend getaway.

Rent a ‘Getaway’ Car

Road trips and weekend getaways go together like mix tapes and Journey (Might we suggest, “Wheel in the Sky”?). But sometimes, you want to escape the familiar confines your own vehicle, too. Whether you’re nervous about adding on too much mileage — especially if you lease your car — or you simply want to step up in class to a luxury car, renting a car for a weekend trip comes with a lot of advantages. And with Allianz Global Assistance’s Rental Car Damage Protector, you don’t need to sweat the interrogation at the rental car company counter. With primary coverage for covered collision, loss and damage up to $40,000 — plus emergency 24/7 emergency assistance — Rental Car Damage Protector takes the uncertainty out of what can be overwhelming choices.4

Why Travel Insurance is a Must-Have for Weekend Getaways

We’ve talked a bit about why travel insurance is essential for weekend getaways. Here are a few examples of how travel insurance can come up big for small trips:

When You Need to Cancel

Most trips come with pre-paid, nonrefundable expenses, from attraction tickets to spa treatments. Here is the thing about shorter trips: they’re often planned on shorter notice than longer escapes. That increases your odds of having even more pre-paid, non-refundable expenses. This includes hotel rooms, which you may need to pay for in full vs. simply supplying your credit card number to put a hold on a room when booking further out. A travel insurance plan with a trip cancellation benefit can provide you one streamlined path for obtaining reimbursements in the event that you need to cancel your trip for a covered reason.5

When You Make it to the Destination. But Your Bags Don’t.

On a week-long trip to Miami, a delayed, lost or damaged bag can be a minor convenience. But when you’re only in a city for a weekend, your wait or rush to replace needed items can critically impact both your itinerary and your budget. Look for a travel insurance plan that includes a baggage loss / damage benefit and a baggage delay benefit, which you’ll find in most Allianz Global Assistance plans. Even better, with the One Trip Prime or One Trip Premier Plan, you may be able to receive a fixed payment of $100 for a covered baggage delay that shows up right in your bank account — no receipt required.6

When You’re Leaving Home With Greater Frequency

Ditching long-form vacations for weekend getaways can mean that while you’re trips are shorter, they’re also happening more often. Taking multiple, shorter trips makes our annual or multi-trip travel insurance plans a cost-effective solution for peace of mind.)

When You Have Time to Swipe, But Not Search

You’re 24 hours into your 72-hour sojourn, and you need to consult your travel insurance policy. You dig through your bags, searching for the printout. You scour through your inbox, looking for the confirmation email. And you think, “there must be a better way!” There is: TravelSmart, the Allianz Global Assistance app. With TravelSmart, you can access your policy, track claims, connect with concierge assistance, and more — all on the go and instantaneously from your smart phone. Never waste precious vacation time rummaging through the hotel trash cans again.7

With the right planning and execution, it’s entirely possible to shrink a traditional week (or longer) trip into weekend getaways. Sure, you may have to make small compromises here and there. And maybe even return to the destination to catch everything you missed the first time around. But experiencing a destination in 72 hours is becoming more practical and more popular.

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Sep 23, 2020