It’s science: having a vacation on the horizon actually helps lift your mood and make your more productive. For that reason, you should always be planning a trip. Seriously!

Why You Should Always be Planning a Trip

On a personal level, I decided to make this post because I just finished booking my own 30th birthday vacation. Woohoo! My partner and I are heading to Disneyland this May sans kids and I’m way too excited. A tonne of client work and 4 months of being in school full time sits between me and Disney Magic right now.

It might be old news to you if you follow this sort of thing, but back in 2010 scientists in the Netherlands conducted a study about vacations. They discovered two things: First, that unless the vacation is really relaxing, you don’t experience a tonne stress reduction after you return. Second, that the real benefit to planning a trip is in the anticipation.

That’s just one study, though. I think there’s a lot more to going on a trip than some people realize. Anecdotally, I have yet to meet someone who, after a lifetime of not travelling, has gone on a trip and not wanted to go on more. Even if you’ve never gone anywhere in your life it’s never too late!

Relaxation and Escapism

I decided to bundle these together because sometimes you go on different trips and get the same mental health effect, even if you trip isn’t traditionally relaxing. Going on a vacation is an “escape” from your day to day life.

I’ve done the “lie on the beach” type vacations and they’re honestly amazing. Usually you return home relaxed, recharged, and little bit suntanned. They’re a great way to get away from the business of life, the schedules, and usually most people for a few days and just rest.

Escapism, on the other hand, doesn’t necessarily mean relaxation. These are the trips where you enter in a new world that you otherwise couldn’t experience at home, and often walk more than you ever would at work. Whether it’s exploring Irish castles or being like me and going to Disneyland, you’ll be escaping “real life”.

Bonding Time

Although solo trips are totally awesome (and a great way to make new friends, so it still applies in its own way) usually vacations are taken as a group. Whether it’s you and your partner or the whole family, you get to have some interruption free quality time together.

As a marketing nerd, I have to share this tidbit with you. I recently saw an ad for some travel website using this very marketing technique. The ad said something like “finding out about the girl he likes” with the mom and son chatting together in some sunny vacation spot.

If you’ve ever been on a great vacation with family you know that it can be really true; that time to focus on each other is a great way to connect and bond.

Productivity and Motivation

Sometimes you need a little extra fire behind you to make things happen. Especially if you’re the type of person who’s externally motivated. Having a trip to plan, and let’s face it, pay for, can help get you going.

The best way to use your trip as motivation is to have a list of things you need to accomplish before you’re “allowed” to go. In my case, I know that I can’t go until my schoolwork is done, for example.

The other motivator is money. The more I work, the more extra cash I’ll have to spend on my vacation. Whether that means booking it in the first place for you or in my case spending money, needing money is definitely a great motivator to get some work done.

In this way having a trip on the horizon can act like a motivator with the actual vacation being your reward. In short, you’re danging a carrot in front of yourself!

Trip Planning is Fun

It’s nice to have a hobby, or at least something fun to do in your free time. If you have an upcoming trip on your calendar, take this as an opportunity to prepare for it.

The biggest part of this is, of course, planning the actual trip. For most people, comparing hotels and searching for the best deal is an idea of a good time. (At least when it comes to planning something fun.)

After the main parts of the trip are settled, you can still get ready for your vacation by either researching things to do or brushing up on whatever cultural aspects you’ll be exploring. (Like learning some Spanish phrases, or reading up on the area’s history. That sort of thing. )

Are you planning a trip in the future? Besides the actual trip, what’s your favorite part?