You've been dreaming of it all year, and now you have a mere two weeks to make it count. What do you do? How do you do it?
Relax. This shouldn't be a stressful decision. Take a breath and think about a destination that makes you smile. That's usually a good place to start. Now, pick some places that are easy to get to. What could be worse than spending the first two days of your precious vacation time holed up in airports and waiting in queues? Make your vacation destination a place you can fly direct or with minimum transfers. Also, while you're still considering a place, think about locations which don't require a good deal of time to get used to.
Let me elaborate on that a bit.
Feel like exploring Tibet? Awesome, but you should allow a few days to gradually acclimatize to the elevation before you think about carrying on to the high plateau. It's tough but, with time being a precious commodity, burning three or four days getting to the point you can enjoy a place just isn't an option this time.
The next step is to pick somewhere that has a variety of things to see in relatively close proximity to each other. Beaches? Hikes? Historical sites? Cultural experiences? Nightclubs and bars? All of these are great two-week vacation fodder, and being able to access your preferred activities quickly and easily is essential.
That said, the next thing to consider is a tempering suggestion. With only two weeks, you have to be realistic with your expectations. You probably won't see the entirety of a country. You'll be hard-pressed to visit every highlight in your guidebook. Pick the sights and activities most important for you to experience. Keep the list as small as you can bear. Find the most efficient way to do all of them. Then you can take advantage of every last smidgen of time available to you and not feel like you're frantically trying to cram as much in as possible.
One last piece of advice before you head out. Invariably, wherever you end up going will require you to travel to get from location to location. Pick a destination where the method of transport itself is an experience. Instead of an air-conditioned coach, maybe try out the slow train that chugs through the countryside and is packed with locals selling tasty food and drinks. Or take the slow boat and watch the day-to-day life of your destination's citizens slowly float past.
My recommendation for a fantastic place to visit when a little time poor? Thailand.
Conveniently connected to Europe, Australia, and North America, it is also a great launching off point for seeing other countries in Asia. The climate is wonderful, though it might get a little hot in the dry season. Acclimation is a breeze, as English signs and English-speakers are found in abundance along the main tourist routes.
The country also has a variety of things to do, all in relatively close proximity to Bangkok. Finally, the Thai train experience is a treat in and of itself. Prepare to try all manner of tasty local delicacies and get your Thai tea served to you in a plastic bag—all while you stare out the window and watch the countryside of Thailand pass you by.
After two weeks, your vacation will end and you will go back to whatever work you were doing before - but you'll be more relaxed, more confident, more bronzed in the face. You - and everyone else around you - will know that you took those two weeks and owned them, and that you'll do the same next time.
Nathan Anderson was born on a chilly December day in the shadow of the majestic Cascade Mountains in northwest Washington. Since that fateful day, he has loved the cold and been obsessed with the great outdoors. After graduating university with a degree in International Business and spending a few years doing responsible things like working hard and saving money, he decided exploring the world was a much better use of his time. Follow him on Twitter @openroadb4me and check out his blog at The Open Road Before Me.
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