The Traveler’s Guide to Short Breaks

Visiting the Colosseum and Roman Forum on a short break

Not everyone can travel full time. It may seem like it and some months it certainly feels like it, but we don’t travel full time. We both hold full time jobs; Tim has 30 vacation days per year plus government holidays and I have 5 weeks plus 11 company holidays. We’d love to be able to travel full time and are diligently working toward that goal, but for now, we have to make travel a priority in our already hectic lives. Many of you often ask how we find the time to travel as frequently as we do, and honestly many of our travels happen over short breaks. We’ve compiled this Traveler’s Guide to Short Breaks to help you get a little more travel in your own life:

Short Breaks Tip 1: Plan, plan, and then plan some more.

My company releases a list of company holidays in the fourth quarter each year. Tim then takes that list and makes a spreadsheet of when we both have holidays off. These are great opportunities to take a three or even four day trip and we’ve thoroughly enjoyed exploring many countries in small bits over extended weekends.

Think about cities and places that you really want to visit and plan out your itinerary. Can what you want to see be accomplished in an extended weekend? If so, plan to visit these destinations when your place of employment has a long weekend because of a company holiday; they’re free vacation days! Save longer trips for when you can take vacation time.

Caving beneath Budapest on a short break

Short Breaks Tip 2: Don’t think too big.

We live in Italy and realistically, flying somewhere more than a few hours flight away on a short break won’t give us the time needed to enjoy and really explore the destination. We’ve easily taken short breaks all over Europe: Paris decked out in all its holiday finest, caving and wine tasting beneath Budapest, touring Brussels, Antwerp, Bruges and Ghent, and even hiking in Switzerland to name just a few of our short breaks.

Think about what you’d like to see in proximity to where you live. Is it easy and inexpensive to hop on a flight? What destinations are an easy road trip away?

On safari on a short break

Short Breaks Tip 3: You don’t have to go far.

There is probably a lot right in your own backyard even just an hour or two away that you haven’t explored! A day trip can be just the right infusion and spark to make you feel like you are making your life count. Check out a local festival or play tourist in your own town. We’ve spent many weekends going on safari at the wild animal park, exploring Roman ruins, descending to the world’s largest underground canyon, and discovering the hidden gems of Venice all without traveling more than an hour or two from our house.

Short Breaks Tip 4: Start out small.

Sure, you’re probably thinking that by the time the weekend rolls around you’re exhausted. We are too. But when we first moved to Italy, we decided that we would take at list one short trip per month. As soon as we got a taste of how travel was changing our lives for the better and that it actually made us feel more energized and invigorated, we started traveling more and more frequently.

Set a goal to start out taking one small weekend getaway per month.

Iceland hotdogs for just $2

Hot potatoes with toppings for just €5

Short Breaks Tip 5: Maximize your travel dollars.

And now you’re probably thinking that all that travel has got to be expensive. Hotels, dining out, and activities tend to add up quickly. Generally the most expensive cost we have on a trip is food.

On road trips we pack a bag of food, snacks, and bring cases of water. We’ve visited local grocery stores and cooked meals in at apartment rentals, we always look for hotels that include breakfast, and we take advantage of street food like the Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur hot dogs at just 250 ISK (around $2 each) in Iceland or the delicious hot potato vendor in Versailles.

Aside from food, there are plenty of free activities to do in any destination and check museum websites for free admission days. The Vatican Museums in Rome and the Louvre in Paris both offer free admission the first Sunday of every month, the Guggenheim Museum in NYC has pay as you wish days regularly, and on International Museum Day on May 18 32,000 museums in 129 countries offered free admission or activities to guests.


So there you have it! We don’t have any big secrets to how we travel as often as we do. It simply comes down to adhering to these five tips for taking short breaks!


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The Traveler’s Guide to Short Breaks


  1. says

    Very good tips! Nice that you are in Italy and can travel so easily to all those other wonderful European destinations. Our goal is to travel full-time, too, but not there yet. Happy travels!

    • says

      I didn’t realize you weren’t traveling full time Cathy! It’s a great goal to be working toward. Running a successful blog takes a lot of hard work but I think it is so worth it to be doing something that you truly love.

  2. says

    Great tips! Travel is a lot more accessible than a lot of people think it is, it just takes some creative thinking. Love that you guys plan out your short trips in advance.

    • says

      Thanks Laurel! It really just takes making travel a priority in your life and planning in advance. You can see so much on short breaks and I think that short breaks are the norm for a lot of people.

  3. says

    Great tips! I love that you guys make a spreadsheet to find what days off you have in common. I’m such a spreadsheet nerd when it comes to travel planning!

  4. says

    I wish I made travel more of a priority like the two of you do. I am a teacher so my days off are predetermined (winter break- between christmas and new years), and one month in the summer. My husband also gets off between christmas and new years (in addition to 12 days) but we find it is always so expensive to go away that time (for obvious reasons). we have been taking 2-week trips during the summer, but without much time off, it’s so hard to travel! Any tips?

    • says

      Hi Jessica! You’ll get there. It took us a few years (nearly 7 to be exact) to really be able to start traveling more than just once or twice per year. Christmas can actually be an inexpensive time to travel, especially if you fly on Christmas Day. You might like our post on easy ways to save on your next flight to help you out too!

    • says

      Thanks Toddlers on Tour! We definitely won't be hitting the road to travel long term any time soon. In the meantime, it doesn't mean we can't travel or even that we can only travel once or twice per year. I hope others can take advantage of our tips and travel more frequently.

  5. says

    We too try to take the most of the vacation days and holidays. We try to do that every time, when that’s possible. Although we would love to travel year round, we have traveled quite a lot this way. Great tips!

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