Master the art of time off

We are already more than a quarter of the way through the year, and by now you’re probably eager to plan your next break. However, if you don’t have enough leave for an extended getaway, there are several ways to maximise any available days owing to you.

“It’s been proved that taking a holiday can help improve mood, reduce stress and increase overall well-being, regardless of the length of the getaway – making mini breaks an essential part of maintaining a healthy work-life balance,” says Samantha Pillay, director of sales operations at ekko.   

In fact, according to a recent study on the value of short vacations, taking regular mini breaks can actually have a more positive impact on our well-being than taking one or two long holidays a year.

Pillay, an expert on next-level living for less, provides these top five tips to help you make the most of your mini break:

1. Make a long weekend of public holidays: Missed the boat in April? There are still plenty of public holidays coming up! Youth Day (16 June) is just around the corner and falls on a Friday this year. Why not make a long weekend of it, and see if you can tack on the Monday too? August offers another opportunity to get away, with Women’s Day falling on Wednesday the 9th, meaning that if you take two days on either side of it (7 and 8 August, or 10 and 11 August), you can enjoy a full five days off work! In September, Heritage Day is on Sunday the 24th, making the Monday a public holiday. That’s three opportunities to escape the rat race right there!

2. Save money with loyalty programmes: ekko offers a lifestyle portfolio that can help you save money on accommodation and flights. Disrupting the more rigid, traditional timeshare model, ekko allows you to take regular mini breaks at 50+ luxury SA resorts and over 10 000 additional SA resorts, as often as you like, throughout the year. ekko also offers a huge variety of additional lifestyle rewards like discounts on restaurants, movies and spas which can turn your mini vacay into a luxury retreat!

3. Stay close to home: Don’t spend your precious time off travelling. Instead, opt for a destination close to home. With so many incredible destinations just a few hours’ drive or a short flight away, there’s no need to go far to have an unforgettable experience. An often-cited rule of thumb is to limit your travel time to one hour by plane (if your budget allows) and three hours by car.

4. Use your time wisely: To maximise your time away, plan to arrive at your destination early, so that you can enjoy a full day of fun activities or just relax. On the day of departure, find out if it’s possible to check out later to get the most out of your final day so that it doesn’t feel like your holiday has been cut short.

5. Pack light, travel lighter: If you’re flying off for the weekend, there’s no need to pack the kitchen sink! Pack a cabin bag and skip the queue to check your luggage in, saving yourself time and money. If you’re driving, pack only what you need to make the trip more comfortable and enjoyable for everyone.

“Mini breaks are an excellent way to recharge and explore new destinations,” says Pillay. “By following these tips, you can maximise your time off and create unforgettable memories without breaking the bank. But more than that, you’ll be able to enjoy the restorative benefits of regular holidays with your friends and family.”

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