By Laura Vanderkam of fastcompany.com
1. Planning May Be The Best Part
Anticipation accounts for a major chunk of human happiness. One study of vacationers found (no surprise) that they were happier than people who weren’t getting away, but almost all of the happiness boost happened before the vacation itself. When you think about the fun you’ll be having, you feel much of the same joy the experience itself will bring. The difference is that it can last a lot longer. So pick the dates for your vacations well in advance, and revel in thinking about what you’ll do.
2. Opt for Quality over “Once-In-a-Lifetime”
A once-in-a-lifetime trip, like a month in New Zealand, would be amazing. But the “once-in-a-lifetime” aspect of such vacations limits their overall contribution to happiness. Research increasingly finds that we return to previous happiness levels fairly quickly (we spend life on the “hedonic treadmill”), and so smaller pleasures experienced frequently contribute more to overall well-being than major but less infrequent ones. Another study found that the health and wellness benefits of a vacation peaked at about eight days in. So look for already-shortened workweeks for getaways so you can plan several eight-day vacations (weekend plus workweek plus weekend) in a year for the price of three to four vacation days a pop.