Personal Finance

The latest travel trend is the microbreak, and it doesn't have to bust your budget

Key Points
  • More Americans are taking what is called a microbreak: a one- or two-night getaway.
  • It could be a good way to squeeze in some time off between trips or as a way to take a vacation on a budget.
  • Here are the top strategies to finding the best microbreak deal.
Tourists on the beach in San Diego
HawaiiBlue | Moment | Getty Images

There's a new trend in travel: the microbreak.

It is exactly as the name implies: a short, one- or two-night getaway — and it could be a good alternative to a more expensive, extended vacation.

"Microbreaks are super, super quick and easy trips for people to take not only in between longer vacations, but also just to scratch that wanderlust itch if maybe you can't get away or afford a trip to Hawaii," Expedia spokesperson Alexis Tiacoh said.

Short trips are also the most popular type of vacation, according to a recent survey commissioned by the travel website. More than 90% of Americans have been on a short trip (four days or less) in the past 12 months, and more than one-third have taken an ultra-short microbreak in the past year, the survey found. It was conducted by Google Consumer Surveys in December, polling more than 1,000 U.S. residents ages 18 to 65.

One appealing factor is cost, since a truncated trip is easier on the budget.

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In fact, money is a big reason that 26% of Americans aren't planning any vacation this summer, a recent survey from BankRate found. The personal finance website polled 2,577 adults in the U.S. at the end of March.

Those who said they were going on vacation expected to spend an average of $1,979 on all related expenses.

For a fraction of the cost, a microbreak could provide some of the same benefits of a longer getaway.

"After a short trip, travelers report feeling rested and recharged, having a better attitude and [feeling] reconnected with their family," said Tiacoh, who noted that she herself feels more productive after taking last-minute microbreaks.

How to find a microbreak deal

Hidden gems: Cheaper summer travel alternatives
Hidden gems: Cheaper summer travel alternatives

As with any vacation, there are deals to be found.

Travelers can save hundreds of dollars if they bundle a flight or a rental car with a hotel, according to Expedia.

It's also important to know when to book and when to travel.

If you are flying, it is best to book your flight at least three weeks ahead of your departure date, Tiacoh said. The best time to buy a ticket is on the weekend — preferably a Sunday — while the best time to reserve a hotel room is on a Friday night, she said.

As for when to begin your journey, leaving on a Thursday or Friday tends to save you money, she added.

However, since shorter trips don't take a lot of planning, there is the opportunity to find last-minute deals. For example, hotels may drop their daily rate as they look to fill their rooms.

After a short trip, travelers report feeling rested and recharged, having a better attitude and [feeling] reconnected with their family.
Alexis Tiacoh
Expedia spokesperson

You can also check out the deals section at travel websites such as Expedia, Orbitz, Kayak or Travelocity, as well as hotel and airline websites. That's when it can pay to be flexible about your timing and your destination.

And don't forget to look out for freebies offered by your hotel, such as free breakfast or activities.

Popular microbreak destinations

Drazen_ | E+ | Getty Images

Most Americans will travel a maximum of four hours when taking a microbreak, according to Expedia's survey. Driving is a more popular option than flying, with 73% of microbreak takers responding that they get behind the wheel for their quick getaways.

Here are the most popular microbreak destinations, according to Expedia:

  • San Francisco
  • Los Angeles
  • New York
  • Chicago
  • Las Vegas
  • Atlanta
  • Orlando
  • San Diego
  • Chicago
  • San Antonio
  • Houston
  • Austin