Mini Vacations Have Health and Productivity Benefits

When it comes to vacations, longer may not be better.

That’s what Judy Rosenthal, Ph.D, a Los Angeles-based psychologist says.

We all need to unplug periodically. When we do, we lean into our joy and become more creative and productive. Our problem-solving skills get sharpened, because stress is relieved and we’re a lot less moody—not to mention healthier because the immune system gets a boost.

Short getaways and day trips are inexpensive and practical, especially when you factor in limited budgets and higher cost of living. Transportation expenses will be decreased, since there’s no need to fly and you most likely won’t need lodging. Vacation time might also be limited, and the good news about mini trips is you don’t have to take any time off.

Since vacation happiness comes in three’s: anticipation, experience, and memories, with the most pleasure coming from anticipation--you’ll be in “the vacation happiness frame of mind” a few times a year.

“Recent studies have shown that taking smaller, more frequent vacations can help you avoid burnout at work, and lower your stress levels overall,” said Justin Pollack, director of marketing for Go NY Tours, a hop on, hop off sightseeing bus company located in New York City.

He continued: “We’ve found that many of the travelers we work with prefer shorter, mini vacations because it gives them something to look forward to at several points throughout the year.”

Often, especially when you’re exhausted from working those 50 to 60 hour work weeks, Monday rolls around much too quickly. You feel as though you’ve accomplished nothing. When you do the quick getaway, it maximizes your time. You’ll be immersed in history, fresh air, colors, and different cultures.

We’re pretty lucky here in New York City, because it’s one of the best towns in which to get away from it all. There are plenty of other cities with a lot to offer, though, such as Boston, Atlanta, Chicago, Las Vegas, New Orleans, Austin, Miami, Charleston and San Francisco, among others.

What do you do when a city has so many neighborhoods and you’re limited on time? You can either do a lot of research and figure out what you want to see, or you can make it a lot easier on yourself and take one of those sightseeing bus tours.

“The whole idea behind a bus tour is to avoid running into big-city overwhelm, and get the most out of your vacation. Many people come to visit New York for a long weekend, and that’s not nearly enough time to see everything the city has to offer,” said Pollack.

He continues: “ But by taking a tour, you get a highlight reel of the city’s best attractions, and then once you decide what appeals to you most, you can spend another day exploring those attractions further.”

You’ll be around others (probably tourists from other cities) so you’ll have the addition of the camaraderie, and shared memories and experiences of other tourists.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR WHEN PLANNING YOUR GETAWAY

A neighborhood is great for you to wander around in if it has a few of these things:

  • A lifestyle match. Remember, it’s not only about creating balance in your life, but actually aligning it, so if you’re a hip urban dweller, you’re probably going to be a lot happier exploring a neighborhood that’s in place with your values, likes, needs, goals, etc. That’s just a fact, so don’t try to force yourself to go somewhere you really don’t want to just because you “should” experience another’s values--those kinds of expectations seldom work.
  • Cultural diversity. Culture shock is good for you, and you can experience it whether you travel near or far. New York City has plenty of neighborhoods with German, Italian, Ecuadorian, Spanish--and more-- cultures. Chicago has Polish Downtown. Los Angeles has Olvera Street. Whatever you do, don’t fall into that trap of “I’m home, so I’ll just go back to my favorite place.”

Branch out, says Pollack.

“Big cities, like New York, can be overwhelming, and most people usually stay close to home, choosing the same restaurants and nightclubs that they’re used to. One way to feel like you’re in a foreign land is to go a different borough. For example, if you’re used to Manhattan, plan a few days of sightseeing in Brooklyn or Queens, sampling different restaurants, bars and tourist attractions that you haven’t seen before,” he said.

  • A low, or declining, crime rate: Unless you’re a fear junkie, you’re probably going to want your mini vacation to give a sense of ease and calm, not be a place where you have to worry about crime. Safety and security are everyone’s concern. Sometimes a neighborhood is just in transition, and a declining crime rate can show if it’s improving.
  • An historical perspective. Get a glimpse into the military fortification during both the Revolutionary War and The War of 1812 at Fort Clinton in Central Park. Or visit downtown Manhattan’s Stone Street, which was built in 1658 and is said to be the first New York City pavement. Check out the Manhattan Bridge which is considered to be the forerunner of modern-day suspension bridges and served as a model for building others.
  • Outdoor activities. You want to be able to walk, bike, hike or do other outdoor activities, such as tennis. Remember, exercise has plenty of physical and emotional health benefits!

You really get it all in big city park, like New York City’s Central Park. It provides outdoor activities, because you can bike, walk, or hike along the many trails. See some gorgeous architecture and learn about architecture with the bow Bridge, Fort Clinton, Belvedere Castle, the Conservatory Garden or more. Have fun and go to the Central Park Zoo, five acres of habitats, 130 species, exhibits and galleries. Want restaurants? The park itself has some, but if you’re also wanting shopping, it’s a short walk to either the East or West sides.

Mini trips are good for you on many levels. You’ll not only be “fed” by the recreation, but you’ll learn backstories that can help you understand more about current events. That said, what will be your next trip?

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