How to Really Enjoy Your Vacation

Have you ever returned from a vacation and realized you didn’t really enjoy yourself? Getting the most satisfaction from traveling may seem simple, but can be elusive. Here are some tips to help make your next trip the best.

Enjoy the planning

Interestingly enough, thinking about, anticipating and planning your trip can give you an even higher boost of happiness than the trip itself. Just thinking about all of the fun things you’re going to do and see will make you happier than actually doing and seeing them, so take advantage of that. You may not be able to prolong your trip but you can definitely prolong the planning process. Start planning your getaway weeks or even months in advance and let that excitement last longer.

Don’t go all out

You may think going all out on a month-long, once-in-a-lifetime trip to an exotic location is a ticket to extreme happiness, but you’d most likely be wrong. When you return from a vacation, studies show that you also return to your normal state of happiness pretty quickly. So however awesome your extravagant trip is, it won’t make much of a difference in your life once you return home. If you insert smaller pleasures more frequently into your life instead, you can increase your happiness levels more often and actually improve your overall well-being. So consider taking smaller trips several times throughout the year rather than splurging on one long trip.

Find a good balance with work

It isn’t always a good idea to completely forget about work on vacation. You might find yourself feeling stressed about things piling up on your desk while you’re gone. Either allow yourself to not stress about work or make the decision to get a little something done here and there to put yourself at ease. It’s better to spend an hour out of your day answering emails and completing tasks than it is to spend your whole day of activities with work-related thoughts in the back of your mind.

Do what you enjoy

This may seem like a simple rule to follow, but sometimes we can get caught up in what we feel we should do on vacation and not what we actually want to do. It may feel like a trip to Paris is incomplete without visiting as many museums as you can, but if you’re not a history buff or an art enthusiast then your time and energy may be better spent elsewhere. If you really want to get the most enjoyment out of your trip, stick to the things you want to do, not the things you think you need to do.

Go out with a bang

Because of the “recency effect”, the human brain puts more emphasis on things that happen last. This means that the end of your vacation will have more impact in your memory than the beginning. You can use this to your advantage by planning the most exciting part of your vacation for the end rather than the beginning. By putting the best part last, you’ll improve the overall impression and feeling you have about your trip after you come home.

Focus on the positive

The way that you talk about and share your vacation experiences will influence the way you see the trip over time. If you focus on the negative parts like missing your flight or losing your jacket, you’ll start to have a negative overall impression of your trip. But if you focus on the highlights like the incredible food you tried and the parade you saw, then you’ll see it in a completely different light. In that way, a flawed trip can become perfect in your mind and leave you feeling much more satisfied.