Because who has the money or time for an extended vacation these days?

By Maggie Seaver
July 30, 2019

As lovely as a week-long vacation sounds, it’s not always feasible. You have to budget not only your finances to pay for such a big trip, but your time and vacation days too. And unless you’re traveling solo, you also have to coordinate with the whole group’s budgets and schedules.

Maybe that’s why more than half of Americans said they didn’t take a personal trip longer than four nights last year, according to the 2019 Vacation Confidence Index released by Allianz Global Assistance. Sometimes it’s just easier to say you’ll try to go next year and move on. But you could also hop on the bandwagon and indulge in a few short micro-cations instead. Yes, you read that right, micro-cations, which the survey press release defines as: “a leisure trip that’s fewer than five nights.”

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Millennials seem to be leading this truncated travel trend, as nearly 72 percent of millennial survey takers took at least one micro-cation in the last year, compared to 69 percent of Gen X’ers and 60 percent of baby boomers.

While the idea of taking a short trip is nothing new (it now simply has a shiny new label attached to it), what makes this feel like a trend is that travelers are starting to choose multiple mini vacations over more conventional week-long leisure trips. One in 10 respondents even said they only took trips lasting one or two nights instead of booking lengthier vacations.

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And we have to admit, the perks of the micro-cation are pretty great. You can visit more places in a year, better budget your vacation days, and still come back refreshed and recharged. Tack on a day or two to a few weekends a year and you’ll get multiple three- to four-day excursions in the books—a great plan for those who tire of staying in one place for too long. While you might only be able to take one, maybe two, longer trips in a year, 25 percent of the general population (and 29 percent of millennials) reported taking at least three micro-cations in the last year. Other reasons travelers prefer the micro-cation include “preferring to take more frequent shorter trips than fewer longer trips (26 percent)”; “not wanting to spend money on longer trips (19 percent)”; and “it being easier to find a travel companion for a shorter trip (10 percent).”

Different demographics appreciate disparate benefits to taking shorter trips. Millennials above all other generations cite saving money is the main reason, whereas Gen X’ers and Baby Boomers appreciate how it lets them take fewer days off of work at a time.

Micro-cations are also a positive alternative to taking zero vacation time—something over one-fourth of Americans admitted to, with baby boomers taking the least vacation. So while you may not have a huge window to travel somewhere far and extravagant this year—or maybe you’re saving up for a house, wedding, or other big financial milestone—it’s still important to find pockets of time, however “micro,” to visit friends, explore new places, reconnect with your partner, and leave your worries at home. (Because traveling is fun—and work burnout is real).

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