Planning a swift weekend escape? Or perhaps you’re wedging in a fleeting exploration between a conference and your return flight?

There’s no rule saying you can’t make magic out of the most minuscule timeframe. You don’t need to see every sight or delve into every experience on a short trip. In fact, sometimes less is more.

A few years ago, I headed to Lisbon for a conference that took place right after Oktoberfest—something that’s always been on my must-see list. I took advantage of the timing and booked two days in Munich before flying to Portugal, and had an absolute blast! I was almost immediately adopted by a group of German locals who I spent the whole day with, exploring different tents and enjoying fantastic beers and music.

If you have a similar situation with a super short amount of time available in a destination you’re excited to see, let’s talk strategy for getting the most out of it!

Time Management Is a Must

Time management is your best way to transform a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it trip into an unforgettable adventure.

Efficient Itinerary Planning: Have a clear picture of your time between touchdown and takeoff, as well as any pre-booked activities. This will give you a realistic scope to add in the extras that will really make your trip memorable.

Prioritization: Know what makes you the most excited to visit your destination, and make sure it tops your list. You’ll want your short trip packed with impactful moments that resonate with you. On a trip to Amsterdam, the only thing I knew for certain that I needed to see was the Chet Baker memorial—of course there were tons of other sights of historical and cultural significance that I was very interested in, but I made absolutely sure to put the plaque on my itinerary as a must-visit.

Time Allocation: Now that you’ve prioritized, give time to what matters the most to you, even if it’s relaxation and people-watching between being “on” for meetings or activities during a conference or another event you might be attending.

Dodging Time-Wasters: The last thing you want is to lose precious moments to long queues, aimless detours, or snail-pace routes. Plan your logistics meticulously, choose direct paths, and use time-saving transportation.

Keeping Pace: Proper time management means maintaining a rhythm that feels right. While you do want to carefully plan aspects like transportation, opening times, and so on, you shouldn’t feel so rushed or overwhelmed that you don’t take the time to enjoy what you’re seeing and doing! Constantly worrying about where you need to go next takes your mind away from enjoying the moment.

Short-Term Getaways: How to Make the Most of a Quick Trip - Planning - Frayed Passport

Image by Grégory ROOSE from Pixabay

Curate Your ‘Must-See, Must-Do’ List

Time might not be a luxury, but that doesn’t mean you should miss out on the highlights of your destination. Research the place and pinpoint key attractions, landmarks, or experiences that resonate with you. Consider factors like proximity, accessibility, and operational hours—this will help you understand the total exploration time you have at hand and plan effectively.

Ensure your short trip is packed with the experiences that mean the most to you. Schedule activities logically to minimize redundancy and allow for unexpected golden opportunities that might spring up—I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen parades and fireworks shows I hadn’t known about on trips, and how much fun it is to abandon whatever plans I had to enjoy those instead.

Seek out authentic, local experiences rather than the regular touristy trail, if you can. Find eateries beloved by locals, attend unique events that fit into your schedule, or drop by a museum or cultural center.

Pack Smart!

Keep it light, and keep it efficient.

The less time you spend wrestling with luggage—unpacking, repacking, lugging it around—the more you have to absorb the adventure. Stick to essentials and if possible, opt for a carry-on to save airport time and avoid the headache of lost baggage. And if you do have a larger suitcase, consider leaving it at your accommodation until you’re ready to jet off again.

Travel Apps Abound

Arm yourself with some of the many travel apps designed to make your trip as seamless and exciting as possible. Local transportation apps, for example, can guide you through unfamiliar streets and systems.

Check out our list of top-rated apps for savvy travelers to discover what can aid you in maximizing your brief journey.

Embrace the Unplanned and Savor the Moment!

Even the most well-organized itinerary should leave room for spontaneity and the surprises it can bring. You might find that instead of charging through your extensive sightseeing list, you’d prefer a leisurely day of people-watching with a coffee in hand. Remember, the goal of any trip, short or long, is to enjoy it. There’s no need to tick off every item on your list. Sometimes, the most memorable experiences come from just being present and soaking in the atmosphere.

In the end, even a lightning-fast trip can yield a treasure trove of memories if you approach it with the right mindset. Happy short-term traveling!

About the Author

As the managing director of Frayed Passport, my goal is to help you build a lifestyle that lets you travel the world whenever you want and however long you want, and not worry about where your next paycheck will come from. I've been to 20+ countries and five continents, lived for years as a full-time digital nomad, and have worked completely remotely since 2015. If you would like to share your story with our community, or partner with Frayed Passport, get in touch with me at!

Featured image by Valeria Bosi on Unsplash

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