When you need to get away, you want to maximize the time you have. Even a short trip can offer a world of possibilities. Don’t be afraid to branch out and explore new places if you only have a few days. Here are four ways to plan for a satisfying short trip.

Embrace the Unknown, But Plan Ahead

Short trips thrive when you take some time for planning. Yes, leave room for spontaneity. Some of the most memorable travel moments come from the unexpected. At the same time, you don’t want to leave the big stuff to chance when you have a limited amount of time.

So stop in that cute cafe in the middle of the day, check out some great art, grab a drink — but book things like your hotel and transportation before you set out. You’ll be more open to new possibilities if you’re not worried about the basics.

Pack Light

Don’t weigh down your short trip by carrying too much. You’re only away for a few days, so take what you really need and leave the rest for when you get back home. Take a pair of seasonally-appropriate shoes you can walk in and a few pieces of clothing you can mix and match.

One cozy sweater layers over the rest of your outfits on a winter trip, for instance, and cute but comfortable sandals move easily between exploring a new city by day and checking out the local nightlife on a summer weekend. Leave time for exploring instead of struggling with heavy bags.

Take Day Trips

A limited amount of time doesn’t mean you can’t see different places. You can expand a short trip to a major city by working in a day trip to a nearby spot. Look for shorter car rides or places you can get to by train so you don’t spend the whole day in transit.

And don’t forget to venture outside the tourist-centric areas of your home base. Visit neighborhoods beyond the usual touristy hotspots to discover hidden gems like bars and restaurants that only the locals know.

Go For A Change of Pace

Getting a complete change from your current surroundings will make it feel like a big  trip, even if you can only get away for a few days. Find a different climate or go from big city to small town to make an adventure out of a short trip.

Santa Monica makes a great beach getaway, while Vancouver offers a fun winter trip. Head to Charleston for some southern charm. Whether you go by plane, train, or just drive for a few hours to explore someplace new, you can find a change of pace even in a short amount of time.

Even if you only have a few days, you can put together the trip of a lifetime. Leave space for spontaneous discoveries while planning out details like light luggage and your day trips. With the right balance of planning and a sense of adventure, your short trip will bring you new adventures.