How Much Time is Enough When Traveling?
How much time is enough for travel? The short answer is there is never enough, at least for most people.
Unfortunately, few of us have unlimited time to enjoy it. So it must be squeezed in around holidays, weekends, or if you’re lucky, a two-week or longer vacation.
Figuring out the best use of time, even for experienced travelers, can be challenging. How much is long enough to justify the expense to get there and the time away from home with questions to consider?
How much do you need to experience the destination truly?
Do you have a home and/or pets that will need to be taken care of while you’re gone?
Or maybe you live in one of the Washington, DC apartments or rent a place anywhere else where that won’t be a concern.
Like many things, there is some science available that can explain how much vacation time is enough when it comes to travel, including one study out of the University of Tampere in Finland.
After analyzing people’s trips, researchers found that happiness levels peaked on the eighth day of their vacations.
Which is probably enough to adjust to a new time zone, overcome any stresses, and feel comfortable.
Of course, that doesn’t address the amount of time needed to explore a particular destination. For example, driving Iceland’s famous Ring Road or discovering both the North and South islands of New Zealand.
You’ll need to consider the place on a case-by-case basis to determine how much time you need. However, some data can help you in general.
A Day For Every Time Zone You Travel Across
It’s a good idea to include at least a day for every time zone you’ll be crossing. This is because it takes time for the body to adjust when you travel long distances.
It has to reestablish a rhythm, with everything from sleep to digestion and even heartbeats. All happening in a rhythm that’s based on timing.
It’s the reason people suffer from jet lag.
That means if you’re flying from New York to London, you’ll want to have at least five or six days to spend there.
Figure out your destination based on the number of days you have.
If you have seven to 10, you can spend as many as eight hours flying, such as a trip from San Francisco to Dublin.
Include Buffer Days
Add a day at the beginning of your trip to rest after traveling and a day to relax at home when you return.
Leaving a buffer like this is a great way to lessen exhaustion and stress. While also providing what’s known as a “post-vacation high” that can last for a few weeks after you get home.
Taking Advantage of Long Weekends
Some rules are made to be broken. For example, you don’t always have to follow the time zone rule, but you’ll want to consider a few things to make it more enjoyable.
As Americans get relatively little vacation time, you might want to try and take advantage of a long weekend to jet off to Paris, for example.
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You can make the most of it by hopping on a red-eye (overnight) flight and sleep on the plane.
Once you get there, stick to your destination rather than planning excursions elsewhere.
If possible, use public transport, taxis, Ubers, and the like to get around, so you’re not exhausted behind the wheel.
Do you have any tips on how to make the most your time when traveling?
Let me know, til then—cheers m’deres!
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Nancy Polanco is a freelance journalist, lifestyle content creator, and editor of Whispered Inspirations. She is a proud Mom to Gabby and Michaela, and wife to Darasak. Having worked as part of a health care team for almost a decade, Nancy is happy to be back to her passion. She is a contributor to the Huffington Post, TODAY’s Parents, and an Oprah Magazine Brand Ambassador.