TRAVEL: Planning a 4+ week holiday

There are different schools of thought on the ideal vacation length. But depressingly, the average American vacation is just 4 days. Some research says 8 days is a good number, others 10 days. My personal opinion is that I need a minimum of 3 weeks on a vacation.

Here’s why:

  • it takes a week to unwind all your work related stress, and thinking about work, obsessing about work, and shaking your compulsion to check your email every 12 seconds as a reflex
  • The week before you go back to work your brain is subconsciously back into work mode
  • Therefore you need 3 weeks off to get just 1 week of actual switched off proper relaxation vacation time

We often go on longer trips, on average 4-5 weeks, but our longest has been a touch over 6 weeks. This kind of trip presents a few unusual challenges, particularly if you are crossing climate zones.

Why go longer?

Particularly if you live somewhere fairly isolated (i.e. Australia) getting to where you want to go is a massive effort in itself. Think about approximately 20 hours of commuting (minimum) just to North America, and then there is the associated jet lag. So I figure hey, if you’re going to all of that effort you might as well get as much bang for your buck as you can!

Taking a longer holiday gives you the opportunity to see more places, and ultimately tick more off your bucket list (although this does need to be balanced with not feeling like you are packing and unpacking every couple of days which gets annoying).

Itinerary tips

After doing a few of these longer trips, my partner and I have come up with a few approaches that help us maximise our holidays, both from a relaxation and adventure perspective. I think of this as the ‘big rocks, small rocks, pebbles’ approach (which is actually a productivity/time management approach designed by Steven Covey that applies equally well to holiday planning!).

Big Rocks

I don’t mean a literal big rock (although I am sure there are many worth seeing!). What I mean by this is to pick your ‘must do’ places, and decide how long you want to spend in each of those spots. These are your ‘big rocks’. For example, you might have skiing in Park City, Utah as a ‘must do’, and then visit Las Vegas because it is conveniently located and you have the time to spare in between your next ‘big rock’ (so Las Vegas becomes the ‘small rock’ or ‘pebble’). The overnight in LA on the way out of the country is the grain of sand that sits between the cracks of the big rocks and the pebbles, but they have their place!

Some of the great travel experiences I have had have been the pebble pieces of holidays. A boat trip in Turkey, and the cruise we took around the Caribbean are two of my favourites that come to mind – both were kind of ‘fillers’ in our trip and we had pretty low expectations of them, so when they turned out to be fantastic it made our holiday even more amazing than we had expected! Both of these are lifetime memories for me, and to think they were a happy accident because we wanted to do something close by. For me, this is the reason not to sit in one place for weeks on end in a holiday, because your next favourite place might be just around the corner.

Having said that, for big trips like this I would suggest a 5 day minimum in each location. Unless it is a ‘grain of sand’ aka a layover and you really just need it as a bed for the night in transit, moving around too often means you don’t get to experience and enjoy the local culture. It is a fine line to walk but 5 days in one place is usually a good length of time. We have done 3 nights in each place on a really jam packed trip, but as amazing as the places you are in, sometimes having a day of rest and not feeling like you should be sightseeing or exploring is nice. However if you are booking a busy trip, a tip that we have used is planning a couple of points in the trip where you stay in a nice hotel for 2 nights and DON’T MOVE! Unless it’s to go to the pool bar…. which is what we did for the last 2 nights of a massive trip on the go, we parked ourselves in a hotel in the Greek Island of Kos. Didn’t see the island at all in that trip, just the hotel, because we needed the break! (#firstworldproblems…..)

Packing for different climates

“How the firetruck do you pack for a 6 week holiday across multiple climates??!!!!!” I hear you ask. Well, the answer can be simple enough if there are 2 of you travelling and you are happy sharing luggage.

For our long haul trips across summer and snow, we tend to pack one summer bag and one winter bag. That way we only need to have one ‘active bag’ no matter where we are, and the other can be stored somewhere out of the way. Of course there are some items that need to be used in all climates (i.e. toiletries) so you just make sure you have allowed for that in your packing. Packing for the snow has it’s own set of challenges – so I suggest you check out my guest blog on Wood & Luxe on that very topic.

Example itineraries:

A couple of examples of itineraries we have done from Australia are below, all between 4-6 weeks and most involving skiing/snowboarding:

  • Paris/Stockholm/Italian Alps/French Alps/Geneva (winter)
  • Barcelona/Pisa/Cinque Terre/Rome/Amalfi Coast/Turkey/Greek Islands (summer)
  • New York/Florida/Caribbean/New Orleans/Vail/Utah (winter/summer combo)

And our next itinerary is this one, which I am VERY excited about!:

  • Lake Tahoe/Park City/Las Vegas (NYE)/ Panama/San Blas Islands/Quintana Roo, MX

Planning a holiday is a bit like playing Tetris, and I personally love planning a trip as it makes the holiday anticipation even better!

If you have any itinerary questions, drop me a line!


Ski: My 5 Favourite Ski Towns

A truly great ski town is a tough formula to crack. It needs the right combination of character & charm combined with enough of the necessities to be functional – and of course it needs to have some banging snow! Here are a few of my all time faves for your Winter 2016/17 inspo.

1.Park City, Utah, USA

When I first went to Park City, a common response was along the lines of ‘What is there to do in Utah? Isn’t it full of Mormons? Are you even allowed to have any fun there?’. The answers to which are: Plenty!; Yes (and all of them lovely); and HELL YES!!! Having been to Park City quite a few times now, I can attest very strongly to great restaurants, a selection of nightlife options that can handle the Hollywood elite (think Sundance Film Festival), outlet shopping for rest days, and most importantly, a great variety of skiing within a short distance.


The 2 crown jewels of Park City are Deer Valley and Park City Mountain Resort. Deer Valley is a skiers only slice of heaven where the staff are there to nurture and serve you and I kind of feel like they might even offer you a massage if you came off a run looking a little stiff. OK, probably not really but it has a no tipping culture and the staff are trained to go the extra mile for their guests, and you feel the difference!

Park City Mountain Resort is the combination of 2 previously separate ski resorts, Park City Mountain Resort and The Canyons. These 2 great resorts have now combined into one incredible resort with terrain variety and options for all levels taken to the next level. It is part of the EPIC pass, which means you can buy one pass and ski all over the US and even Japan and Australia within the same year.

But aside from these beauties, there are plenty of other great ski resorts within an hour or so from Park City for those who like a different spot every day! Between Alta, Solitude, Snowbird, Brighton and Sundance just to name a few, staying in Park City leaves you truly spoiled for choice on all fronts.

My all time favourite Deer Valley ski runs

 2. Val D’Isere, France


This town was everything I ever wanted from a ski town in the French Alps! An adorable place with dreamy white mountains everywhere. Did I mention the patisseries? Dear God take me back….

La Folie Douce is mandatory to visit for apres ski to experience table dancing in ski boots, live musicians playing throughout the crowd, and a party atmosphere that will make you want to stay forever!! I recommend showing up around 3pm.  Dick’s Tea Bar should definitely be on the list to visit as well to kick on into the night if you are keen to go on for longer.

Try something different – learn to snow kite with Oxygene or Fly Mountains ski schools! So much fun.

For great accommodation options have a look at Ski Bonjour – Check out Bonjour Bivouac for the perfect balance of on snow accom with all the hard work taken out of your stay! We had an absolutely amazing time staying here with a great location and perfect set up for our stay. Comfy and cosy, with great hosts and food!

3. Big White, Canada

Big White is a sweet as pie Canadian ski town with a kick ass party vibe to boot and most importantly – the snow is CONSISTENTLY UNBELIEVABLE!!! Accessible via Kelowna (fly in from Vancouver in a about 55 minutes), then a 30-45 minute drive up the mountain. Great terrain options with such epic snow. The haunting first run view of the famous Big White snow ghosts is truly memorable. 

Head to Happy Valley (access by skis or car) for Apres ski between 4-6pm to check out great live music (usually Jon Bos Rocks who puts on a really great show). With plenty of great food options you too you are spoiled for choice.

Snowshoe Sam’s is a must visit with great live music and an awesome vibe. To top it all off, the Canadians are pretty much the nicest people on the planet.
4. Queenstown, New Zealand

Queenstown (even without snow) is a town well worth a visit. Whether travelling with a family or a group of friends, this place literally has something for everyone. Plenty of bars, with some amazing secret spot restaurants hidden behind doors with no signs. Known for its action, Queenstown has no shortage of options outside of skiing including bungee jumping, heli skiing, white water rafting, sky diving, jet boating over the Shotover river (not for the faint of heart) among just a very few (check out Viator for some more options).

My favourite spots The Cow restaurant and also a must visit is Fergberger for the best burgers in towns. I assure you, the lines are worth the wait!! A cranking party town, but with plenty of family options, this is another gem with something for every visitor.

With resorts nearby including Cardrona, The Remarkables, Coronet Peak & Treble Cone you are spoilt for skiing options. The only downside is there really isn’t ski in ski out accommodation (or at least there wasn’t when I was there) so you are either looking at a bus trip or a drive up the mountain in a hire car each day (approx. 40-60 mins).

Treble Cone

5. Vail, Colorado, USA

Vail is another absolutely gorgeous ski town that will make you want to quit your day job and move here immediately. Even if it means making next to no money you won’t care because you will live in a perfect village with perfect snow and mostly blue skies every day. This town had been on my bucket list for a while and it was worth the trip!!


(Photo credit @vailmtn instagram)

Garfinkel’s a.k.a Garfs is a must visit – really it is THE place to get to if you want the Vail Experience. Great for après ski drinks, but it was also a great place for a stop off for lunch to grab a refreshing beer after the hard work on the slopes. With plenty of other great options you definitely won’t struggle to find fantastic eating and drinking venues.

Tavern on The Square at Arrabelle is a great spot for people watching as well, especially if you can get there in time to get an outdoor seat around the fire. Another special thing about Arrabelle is the spa…. heaven!!! If you need to take a break from the slopes, this is where to go!

We landed in Denver and drove to Vail, then continued the road trip down to Utah to hit the slopes in Park City courtesy of the EPIC pass as it is applicable here also (as well as for other Colorado resorts Breckenridge, Beaver Creek & Keystone)

Local tip – check out a local ice hockey game if you can for some up close and personal off the slopes action!!


(NOTE: Photos are original unless noted. You are welcome to share but please tag the site or instagram @worktravelskirepeat. Thank you!)