As we were waiting in the conference room for our meeting to start, someone caught me on my phone checking out the weather in Stockholm.
“When is your trip again?” he asked.
“I leave in a couple of weeks,” I said.
“How long are going for?” he asked.
People around the table pricked up their ears like curious little puppies, trying to figure out how long I would be gone from the project. We are on some tough deadlines. Folks are tense.
“I’m just out a few days, three work days and a weekend, plus one day is the holiday,” I said. “It’s over Easter weekend.”
The next comment was one I have heard ONE MILLION TIMES, which is always some version of:
“Wait. You are going all the way to EUROPE for a LONG WEEKEND?”
Because who would do that, right! What insane person would get on an airplane and cross an ocean if she isn’t planning to be there for two whole weeks!
Me, of course. This trip will be even more fun because now that we have had our first plane trip together, the Captain and I will finally see if he likes flying the Laurie Perry Method. My whole philosophy is get in, get out, and have fun before anyone loses an eyeball. Or some such.
My job is extremely awesome but also ridiculous and demanding and it would be impossible for me to leave work for two weeks. Leaving work for a full week is not really possible, either, so if I’m gone that long I just plan to work while I’m away. I bring my laptop and work on the plane, schedule meetings on Burbank time, and make copious use of video-chatting tools.
To get a real, true not-working-at-all vacation, I have to do very short trips. At first I would do mini trips here in the United States, or go down the coast or to Houston to see Drew. Once I learned to travel by myself, I realized that long trips made me lonely so eventually I combined my love of overseas trips plus long weekends and it stuck.
I LOVE traveling this way. I get to see lots of different places in a year instead of just one or maybe two. There’s always something to look forward to. Planning is a bit simpler when you only plan to be in a city for a couple of days. And once I figured out how to upgrade and use points to move up to business class, it was ON. Getting that sleep in on the way there makes a big difference — but it can be done in coach, and I have done it many a time.
The biggest hurdle for folks seems to be the airplane travel. Some people cannot fathom going on a long trip in an airplane for just a few days on the ground. Yet these same people will spend an entire day in a car driving to Vegas or San Francisco! I hate riding in the car with the passion of a thousand fiery suns, so the very notion of a car trip makes me panic.
Road trips are my nemesis. It takes me forever and a day to pack all the crap I have to take — a cooler, snacks, a new playlist, some important map information, sunscreens for the car, clothes for the car and alternate clothes in case it gets cold. I need kleenex and lotion and sunglasses and hair ties and a hat and yes, I AM A HANDFUL. Then when we are finally in the car and on the road we have to stop every seven minutes so I can take a picture or get out and stretch my legs or buy pecans or postcards or roadside cookies or ANYTHING to get me out of the car.
That “five hour road trip” up the coast last August took us nine hours. I am not kidding. I am surprised the Captain and I stayed together after that fun-filled carnival ride of despair.
But get me on a plane and I am a happy camper. I have a whole ritual that involves spreading all my crap out on the bed and packing the night before. Getting my carryon all figured out is a pleasure, I put little snacks in my bag and bring along a book and charge my iPad and figure out which gate we’re going to be at. I love to check in at the desk and get through security and find a place to have a drink and watch the planes through the windows. Once situated at the airport, I live to watch all the fashion highs and lows of the concourse. Sometimes a famous person is at LAX and that’s fun.
Airports have an energy to them, and it makes me happy to think about all the possibilities.
Here are some tips for traveling Laurie Perry style:
Don’t overschedule yourself
The trick to traveling long in short spurts is to give yourself a break. You cannot see all the things and eat at all the places and hit up all the hotspots in three days. Yes, you might miss something on the guidebook top ten list. But once you learn how to travel short-but-frequent, it’s easy to come back someday soon for another visit.
Keep it all in one location
Cities seem to work best for my mini-trips because I can get to the airport and back pretty easily, and I don’t have to do any additional travel (like take a bus or rent a car.) However, I have done the mini trip approach to Hawaii and to Bermuda and both were great. I rented a car in Hawaii and took a fair amount of bus travel in Bermuda, but since the flights were a bit shorter than Europe it worked out well.
Sleep. Then sleep some more.
On your first night in port, allow yourself to sleep as long as you want. One of the best trips I ever took was to Dublin and I mainly remember the delicious feeling of falling asleep in my hotel bed at 8 pm and not stirring until past noon the next day. It was a transcendent experience and after that I had no jet lag and tons of energy. It was the first trip that I just allowed myself to sleep, even if I missed some museum or tourist site. Sleeping on that first night sets me up for a great trip. I also tend to sleep better on vacation (maybe because there is no cat on my head?)
Be flexible with your destination and keep searching for fares
The other complaint I hear from folks about this style of travel is the cost. Yup, airplane tickets are expensive. However! If you are flexible and willing to snap up deals when you see them, this style of travel can cost you the same or less than a weekend in Vegas.
I have seen flights on Norwegian airlines nonstop from LAX to Paris for as low as $415 roundtrip! With today’s solid low-cost carriers, you can go all over the world for less than a ticket to New York. I fly mainly on One World and collect miles and points to upgrade. You can also look for credit cards that offer travel points. Tons of websites out there are dedicated to this style of money-saving travel. I used miles for our Paris trip and got our biz-class tickets for a cool $200.
We can talk more later about the financial ins and outs of travel, but honestly fares are lower and more available now than ever before. Airbnb is all over the planet, and you can find amazing places to stay on a budget almost anywhere. If travel really is something you’re excited about, you’ll find there are ways to cut costs on everything from lodging to food to fares.. The internet has made that possible now for everyone!
And if you don’t travel you can’t populate your instagram with the selfies of the world, you know.
You can experiment with mini-trips by picking a holiday weekend (4th of July, Labor Day, or President’s Day is the best if you get that one off) and start looking for cheap fares now. My favorite tool for exploring the range of cheap flights across the globe is Google Flights. Pick your days and set the destination to “Europe” or “South America” or some country and start your search. This tool also offers great fare alerts and monitoring.
My style of travel is not everyone’s cup of tea, but if you’re down for a little adventure then micro-trips are something to consider. It has opened the world up for me. And while I still hope for one of those magical two-week vacations from work, right now the mini-break is A-OK.
Today: This new project is one of the hardest I have ever worked on, if not THE hardest, and maybe that’s why I am so excited about our upcoming trip. I need a little escape.