Because of work, school or family obligations, many people cannot afford to take an extended vacation. Others may have the time, but not the finances to travel for a week or longer. One popular alternative to a standard vacation is known as a mini vacation. A mini vacation rarely lasts more than a three day weekend in duration, and vacationers usually choose a destination that is closer to home or more affordable than a standard week-long family outing.
Quite often, a mini vacation is scheduled around an official holiday or school break, in order to avoid taking too many personal days off from work or having to pull children out of classes. A typical long weekend could start immediately after work or school on Friday and end the night before a regular schedule resumes. Because time is limited, many people who take a long weekend look for destinations within a few hours of their homes. One night could be lost to travel, but the rest of the extended weekend is still open.
An overnight trip to an amusement park could be considered a mini vacation, as could a weekend stay at a local Bed & Breakfast or a few days on the ski slopes. The idea is to enjoy an inexpensive vacation from the stresses of work or school while still able to drive back home for emergencies if necessary. Many people are surprisingly unaware of interesting attractions located within a few hours of their hometowns, but local hotels, Interstate welcome centers and chambers of commerce often have racks of informational pamphlets on local attractions.
A mini vacation generally calls for minimal packing and only a few tankfuls of gas. Other expenses may include entry fees for the attractions, hotel reservations, meals and souvenirs. Some vacationers on limited budgets may be able to stay overnight with relatives or friends, which can be a much easier negotiation process than asking for a week's worth of free lodging. Unlike vacationers in exotic locales, the vacationer can also economize by purchasing inexpensive meals at local grocery stores or fast food restaurants.
With gas prices in a state of flux and a tight economy, many people find it easier to budget for a long weekend or "one tank trip" as a way to get away for a few days of rest and relaxation. Some find a short trip to an interesting attraction even more satisfying than a standard vacation because they are not obligated to fill an entire week with other activities. Just the idea of getting away to a beach for a few days or a lodge in the woods for a weekend can be enough of a vacation for many people.