Learn why you may be happier when planning than during or after a vacation. Also, find out how you can continue that feeling of bliss all year around and how planning is a great bonding experience for your relationship.

Do Vacations Make You Happier?

One of the greatest joys in life can be exploring a dream destination with the one you love. Imagine making a wish at the Trevi Fountain in Rome, savoring a six-course meal in the Eiffel Tower, skiing the alps in Switzerland, or any other desired getaway that pops into your daily daydreams.

You probably believe that when finally there, you’ll be happier than you’ve ever been. That might be true, but unfortunately, that feeling of bliss won’t last long.

Vacations do make us very happy. But a least one study shows that when the vacation ends, the happiness level increase ends with it. However, there is a way you can get right back to that wonderful feeling you felt, and it has something to do with being happier when planning.

The Feeling of Bliss Quickly Fades

According to the results of a 2010 study published in the Journal of Applied Research in Quality of Life, there was no difference between vacationers post-trip happiness and someone who never went away. The only exception was for people who took an incredibly relaxing vacation with little stress. But, how often does that actually happen? Even if you go to the world’s happiest country there still might be some stress.

Once the trip ends, your happiness levels drop back to the same levels as someone who never even took a vacation. This decrease may have to do with the stress of returning to work. Another factor is that vacations don’t always live up to expectations. Between flight delays, mold in the hotel bathroom, or a meal that makes you sick; parts of your trip may not be as good as you imagined.

Happier When Planning

Good news for anyone reading this because that means you not only like to travel but love learning and planning. Although the happiness boost might end post-vacation, there is perhaps a stronger happiness increase according to the study during the planning process. Many people are happier when they are planning and anticipating than when they are actually on vacation and definitely more than post-trip.

Our imaginations can run wild during the planning phase. We think about the destinations we want to visit, and we image staying in the best hotels, receiving perfect customer service, and savoring mouth-watering cuisines. Picture being in Seattle on a bright sunny day viewing the whales and then sipping a martini in the Space Needle during sunset.

When in the planning process, you begin to anticipate the trip and get excited. You have something to look forward to. It helps get through the long workweeks, grinding workouts at the gym, and traffic jams.

So if you are happier when planning and anticipating, then why not plan more? Currently, with limited time off and funds, you might take only one or two trips a year. Perhaps you can break it up to several shorter getaways, but spread out through the year. Or plan lots of upcoming day trips. That way you’ll be planning numerous vacations and always be looking forward to an upcoming adventure.

Planning Can Improve Your Relationship

We already know that going on trips has numerous long-term benefits for relationships. But, don’t make one person do all the planning. Instead, make it a couple’s activity so you can both benefit from the boost that being happier when planning provides.

As a couple, planning together can increase the bond of a relationship as you both fantasize for example about the quaint shores of the French Riviera, a romantic picnic in a field of wildflowers, or the taste of freshly baked salteñas in Bolivia.

Create a travel bucket list, request time off from work, start reading and bookmarking travel blogs like this one as a resource, attend a travel show, and listen to a podcast together. Enjoy learning about other destinations that couples find romantic and most importantly have fun through the process.

Final Thoughts:

For many people, traveling for pleasure is a limited experience. Most of the time you are working to pay the bills and saving a little for the next trip. Now that we know you can be happier when planning, why wait to start dreaming of your next destination?

Start planning your next romantic trip or even your next five years of trips and have fun with the experience. Check our destinations, inspiration and resources pages to help. Happy Planning!

Your Thoughts:

Do you agree with the study’s results? Are you happier when planning than even on the trip? Do you lose that happy feeling or even feel depressed when you return? If so, share your thoughts with the community.