Travel often falls into the category of activities we’d like to do but don’t have time for. A career and relationships can make it hard to plan beyond our current crazy day-to-day schedule, so it’s easy to put vacations on hold until you’ve got time—which, let’s face it, is an ever-shifting goal.
If the thought of taking a full week of PTO gives you anxiety about mounting emails and deadlines, start with one day. According to Clara Sedlak, executive editor at travel planning and booking website Jetsetter, that’s all you need to explore a number of key travel destinations like Cartagena and Vancouver. Thanks to direct flights from a number of major U.S. cities, you won’t waste time with connecting flights, so you can spend your valuable time exploring each destination.
Trust us—you only need to log one day of leave to vacation in these five hot spots. Long weekend, here we come.
Cuba has topped almost every list of top travel destinations to see in 2017, and for good reason, says Sedlak. “Cuba will certainly develop and change radically in the coming years, so now is the ideal time to go,” she explains. Thankfully, there a ton of new direct routes that make jetting to the once off-limits country a breeze. “There are three daily nonstop flights from NYC, four from Miami, one from L.A., and others from smaller cities, including Charlotte, North Carolina,” says Sedlak.
When you’re there: “Travelers tracing Ernest Hemingway’s cocktail trail will want to try his signature daiquiri (maraschino liqueur, lemon juice, and grapefruit juice blended with ice and two shots of rum) at El Floridita,” advises Sedlak. “The moody, low-lit bar transports you to another time and place.”
It might not be far from San Francisco, but when you touch down in Vancouver, Canada, you’ll feel like you’re in another world. “Vancouver is an outdoor lover’s dream in the summer months; there are gorgeous national parks, the nine-mile seawall in Stanley Park, kayaking, mountain biking, climbing zip-lining, and more,” she says. If you’re traveling on a budget, Vancouver is a good option. “It’s an especially great time to go because of affordable exchange rates,” she notes.
When you’re there: “After a brunch of waffles sprinkled with milk chocolate lavender at Medina Café, head 30 minutes north of the city to check out the famous suspension bridges. While tourists crowd the 230-foot Capilano bridge (which has a pricey $40 entry fee), we recommend visiting the Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge for free,” she says. “Aside from an awesome photo op, this 165-foot-high bridge offers panoramas of the raging waters, deep pools, and waterfalls in the ravine below.” If you love to hike, take your pick of scenic trails at the end of the bridge.
“This sultry coastal gem has become a compulsory stop on the Latin-American bucket list thanks to its balmy weather, eye-popping architecture, and new nonstop flights from major U.S. cities on Delta, JetBlue, and Spirit Airlines,” says Sedlak. It takes five hours from New York City, making it pretty reasonable long-weekend option.
When you’re there: Prepare to saturate your Instagram feed with pictures of candy-colored buildings and markets. “Instagram addicts will go crazy for Cartagena’s colorful colonial buildings and grand plazas. We recommend you sign up for a walking tour with Kristy from Cartagena Connections. She’s a fantastic guide, and she will tailor your tour depending on your interests (contemporary art, ceviche bars, shopping, architecture, etc.),” says Sedlak.
East Coasters, this one is for you. Bermuda is just a two-hour, 20-minute flight from New York City and under three hours from Miami, so you can squeeze a visit into two to three days. “Killer restaurants, chic boutiques, powdery beaches, and only a short hop from New York make Bermuda an ideal long-weekend escape. This June, the island will host the 35th annual America’s Cup yacht race.”
When you’re there: “Check into the iconic pink Fairmont Hamilton Princess, which recently underwent a $100 million renovation that added 43 new suites, a spa, and a beach club on the harbor,” she recommends. “Don’t miss the three-hour snorkeling cruise aboard a catamaran with Restless Native.”
San Juan, Puerto Rico
If you’d rather avoid braving customs and border security during a three-day trip, opt for a U.S. territory. Sedlak recommends San Juan, Puerto Rico, as a fuss-free vacation option. “The entire island of PR is worth exploring, but if you’ve only got three days, the capital of San Juan is perfect. It’s affordable, easy (direct flights from all major cities), and no passport is required.”
While you’re there: Listen to the locals, says Sedlak. “Every local will suggest you check out Restaurant Raices in Old San Juan for its standout mofongo, a hearty mashed plantain-based Afro–Puerto Rican dish that’s piled high in tall wooden bowls. The addition of flavors like mahi and shrimp guarantees it’s like none you’ve ever tried back on the mainland,” she tells us.
Los Cabos, Mexico
“The southern tip of Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula is a perfect getaway in early summer thanks to its ideal weather, stylish hotels, standout waterfront restaurants, and powder-soft beaches,” says Sedlak. “The wintertime crowds have gone home, and the summertime storms have yet to hit.” She recommends traveling during the shoulder season from June to early July for hotel discounts. “Plus, it’s just a three-hour flight from L.A. and SF,” she adds.
While you’re there: “Check out San José del Cabo’s Gallery District, which over the last decade has become Los Cabos’s cultural heart. Two highlights: the Frank Arnold Gallery, which focuses on a single artist’s portfolio, and the Patricia Mendoza Art Gallery, which spotlights many names and artistic styles,” she says. “You can see them all during an art walk held every Thursday night between November and June.”
Where are you heading on your summer vacation?