Yes, planning a vacation can be stressful and time consuming, but studies show that vacations can actually increase your happiness—even the anticipation can boost your mood! With less Americans taking advantage of their vacation days than ever before, we think personal happiness is reason enough to start planning that trip you’ve been wanting for so long.

Vacation Anticipation

Travel satisfies our wanderlust and provides escape from the rigors of daily life. And when it’s a journey to a place you’ve never been, the anticipation of what you’ll experience can instantly bring on happy vibes. Where do you want to stay? What do you want to experience? Thinking of all the possibilities provides an opportunity for imaginations to run wild. A study published in Applied Research in Quality of Life observed 1,530 participants in hopes of gaining more insight on the link between vacations and happiness.

Results showed that those going on vacation had a higher rate of happiness than those who were not. It’s speculated that the anticipation alone can bring enjoyment to a person weeks—and even months—before the trip. During periods of stressful work or tiring personal tribulations, that week at the beach can seem like a beacon of hope shining from a distance.

The study didn’t find a link to the length of the vacation to overall happiness, so perhaps it’s worth planning a trip even when it’s only for a quick visit to friends up the coast for a long weekend.

Post-Vacation Blues

But what happens when you get back from that trip? The same study found that while those who had a “very relaxed” vacation did experience post-trip happiness, it did not last as long.

Most are familiar with the post-vacation slump. Often times, after a jam-packed trip, we feel like we need a vacation following our vacation just to relax and get our schedule get back on track. Impending deadlines or catch up work can even cause anxiety before your plane home has landed. If this rings true, check out how Dr. Darria Long Gillespie copes with the post-vacation blues, and how you can turn that slump around. Simple actions to consider before and during your trip can make the transition back to daily life a lot easier. Learn more here.

Vacation Days Lost

An Oxford Economics’ analysis found that the average American only uses 77% of their vacations days. Further, the study states, “There is no link between putting in more time at the office and getting a pay raise or bonus.” If Americans have these days available, what’s to stop us from taking a well-deserved break? It seems that if you have the opportunity to take time off and boost your mood—then it’s certainly in your best interest.


Author: Allison Klibanoff