Maximizing The Week-Long Vacation

Like many people we know – especially in the USA – our vacations are scheduled entirely around when we can take time off from work. However, it can be difficult to use the vacation time we’re provided through our jobs – often we’re competing with deadlines, colleagues with their own vacation time requests, and even a little bit of stress over leaving the office when there is work to do. Because of those constraints, the week-long vacation has become our saving grace in an environment where we want to both work hard and play hard. Spread throughout a year, one week off every few months is a great balance between staying committed and reliable at work and embracing our wanderlust.

Travel style is a personal choice, and it took us a while to find ours. We’ve learned we’re not the type of travelers who like to spend the whole week by the beach every time we can get away. In fact, the exact opposite strategy has allowed us to circumvent the globe and ensured we come home with an entirely new set of experiences every time: we try to visit as many countries as possible in just one week.

Sounds hectic? You’re right – it certainly can be! The idea of spending two days here, one day there, catching a train at 3 AM and waking up in yet another place isn’t easy. But we absolutely love this approach. The experience of seeing a new country – even for just one day – is worth the trade-off of relaxing downtime. Of course, this strategy limits the amount of time you have in each location. It can definitely be hard to say goodbye to an amazing city that you only had one day set aside to visit. However, it can also come in handy for those places you might only need (or want) one day to visit. A perfect example would be Mt. Rushmore. It is absolutely worth seeing, and it is an incredibly inspiring feat of American ingenuity – but you wouldn’t need to spend an entire week in Keystone, South Dakota to enjoy it.

We prioritize our schedule around what we want to do and what we want to see; then we try our best to fit everything in within the allotted vacation time for each location.

Here are a few of our one-week, country-hopping itineraries from previous years:

Wenceslas Square in Prague, Czech Republic
Wenceslas Square in Prague, Czech Republic

APRIL, 2013:

  • 2 Days in Nice, France
  • 1 Day in Monaco, Monte-Carlo
  • 2 Days in Geneva, Switzerland
  • 2 Days in London, England

MAY, 2014:

  • 2 Days in Prague, Czech Republic
  • 2 Days in Vienna, Austria
  • 1 Day in Bratislava, Slovakia
  • 2 Days in Budapest, Hungary


APRIL, 2016:

The Blue Lagoon in Grindavík, Iceland
The Blue Lagoon in Grindavík, Iceland

Some of the places that we loved the most are the places where we spent the shortest amount of time. Iceland was one of these locations. We only spent three days visiting Reykjavik, and as much as we tried to fit everything into the schedule, we obviously had to skip some activities. But this is where the shortened trips are beneficial; you can get a nice introduction to a place, learn about a new culture, see some amazing things, and leave new items on the itinerary for a return trip! Plus, we now know that if the opportunity to spend more time there arises we’ll have plenty of new things to do and favorite experiences to enjoy again.

The cost of these trips can be tricky, but with a little research and a thorough review of travel options, you might actually find it’s not as expensive as you think. Many countries have excellent infrastructure via rail, bus, or even regional airlines that can save you money and time.

We still mix in an extended trip to one place every now and then, but some of our best memories have been as we crossed borders and created our own personal highlight reels of cities and towns around the world in just one week.

The unofficial motto of our blog is “two-travelers trying to explore the world within the limits of our vacation time.” The abbreviated travel schedule, or “sampler” approach to travel is one of our main strategies for accomplishing this. While it might not be a good fit for everyone, this has been a great way for us to maximize our limited availability for time away from work.

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