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This kind of weekend-warrior traveling didn’t survive past my 20s. I became exhausted not having adequate time to recuperate in between work and trips. When the pandemic hit in March 2020 and travel came to a halt, like many others I found myself spending most of my time alone, which allowed me to look at what I value. When travel resumed, I vowed to approach it differently.
Enter the buffer day. Now, I prioritize scheduling an extra day off between when I return home to D.C. from vacation and going back to work. Because let’s face it: While travel is a joy (and a luxury), it can be exhausting.
I use this day to unpack, do laundry, run errands and take a bath. Then, I spend the rest of the day recovering. Even on relaxing vacations, being out of your comfort zone for a few days and around so many people can be draining — at least for me. I use the buffer day to look ahead to the next week and just enjoy my space again. Think of it as a mini staycation at the end of your vacation.
There are times when a buffer day has been crucial: after an active bachelorette-party weekend spent with lots of new people and a short trip with long flights to the West Coast. And then there have been times I’ve regretted not taking one: after an exhausting visit with family or a weekend beach trip that took 10 hours of driving when it should have taken five.
Sure, it might not always be possible to incorporate a buffer day into your travels, but you’ll thank yourself for it later when you reenter the busy workweek, especially after a trip when you’ve traveled across multiple time zones. As I’ve gotten older, my version of making the most out of a trip looks a bit different — like cutting a trip a day short just to have this rest day. Honestly, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
More travel tips
Planning: Your guide to traveling again, in 5 steps | How to move to Europe | Less busy national park alternatives |Protect your plans from covid chaos | Save on wedding travel | How to cook at a vacation rental | How to travel with kids under 5
Road trips: How to find a rental car | Snacks | National park tips | Rental car disasters | Try Kevin Costner’s road trip app | Trying a fancy bus from NY to DC | How to save on road trips as gas prices soar | What it’s like to rent from Turo
Flying: What to do about lost luggage | Getting through to airline customer service | How to get a refund | Extend your flight voucher | Find a good neck pillow | How to deal with chaotic airports | Cut the line at the airport | Get your kid a frequent flier account | Plane workouts | Why you should pick your seat | Can you fly with edibles? | When an airline bumps you | Your canceled flight emergency kit