What Is a Micro Vacation — And Why Is It So Popular?

Staycations have come into their own — along with those weekend hikes and camping adventures you've always talked about doing. It's all part of the micro vacation trend.Read More

Save money on your adventures by car camping. (Source: iStock / yocamon)

Every year, top media outlets cover the latest and greatest travel trends. These frequently center on “hot” destinations, under-the-radar locales, or activities that unimaginative travelers wouldn’t consider without a prod from their favorite titles. In 2020, however, there’s a unique new bent to the travel trend roundup: the micro vacation.

Pegged as a symptom of stretched budgets, lower earnings, and higher cost of living, micro vacations are pretty much just what they sound like: a low-cost vacation in miniature, spread over only a couple of days. Travel + Leisure hailed this as the newest Millennial trend, though it’s arguably got a foothold in the world of Gen Z, too.

In addition to being relatively short (making spare use of limited PTO), micro vacations also keep cost low by entailing simple road treks to nearby towns/getaways, leaning on simple accommodations like tiny home rentals or camping, and schlepping food with so meals can be made instead of purchased.

With all this DIY-ness, you may be wondering what the appeal is. Millennials will tell you it’s about the experience. As a matter of fact, experiential travel is increasingly becoming a primary consideration for travelers; they no longer seek out silk sheets and top-notch steak dinners — they want climbs, hikes, insider tours, time with locals, and hands-on exploration of history and culture. Depending on what your interests are, this can be cheaper to secure than a suite at a five-star resort.

Hiking is a common feature of micro vacations — they're easy to plan and don't require a lot of equipment. (Source: iStock / Sabine Hortebusch)
Hiking is a common feature of micro vacations — they’re easy to plan and don’t require a lot of equipment. (Source: iStock / Sabine Hortebusch)

All that said, what are the most popular micro vacations you can take? Destinations will depend on where you live, of course, but here are a few general prompts to get you started:

  • Multi-day hikes and camping with trailheads within 2-3 hours by car of your location
  • Weekend-long music festivals and car camping
  • Two-day wilderness tiny house rentals with nature photography shoots
  • Staycations in town, experiencing your city like a tourist for a long weekend
  • Farm stays with animal care, cooking, and cleaning to “pay” for accommodations
  • Short road trips with couch-surfing between sightseeing forays

There’s one caveat worth keeping in mind as you consider your micro vacation, however: Be flexible. Given that you’re foregoing the amenities and treatments often central to nicer, longer vacations, you’ll need to be able to roll with the punches and make the most of your circumstances. Remember: This is about enjoying the experience, not enjoying pampered living. If you’re looking for more of the latter, consider upgrading your micro vacation to include hotel accommodations and, perhaps, a spa day.

For deals on hotels and activities, you can weave into your micro adventure planning, we recommend checking out the offers on Groupon or Booking.com. You can also grab itinerary inspiration from micro vacation experts, many of whom follow a theme for their trip planning (museum hopping, walking the trail of a historical figure, etc.).

Have a good idea for a micro vacation we can share? Send us a note at editor@wideworldoftravel.com. We’d love to include it!