Here are science-back tips for planning your perfect vacation, according to science.

When was your last vacation? Ours is now. Whenever it was, did you really enjoy it or was it just a waste of time just because you didn’t feel like it? We’ve all been there: that awkward moment when you think your vacation should have been awesome but you feel somewhat awkward. It feels like you need a vacation from your vacation. Like what?

Yes, enjoying a good vacation actually takes some time to plan and practice. Fortunately enough, there is scientifically backed research on how to make your next vacation a lot less stressful.

Related media: 6 Travel Tips To Plan The Perfect Vacation

#1. Don’t Force It …

This is probably your worse mistake, just because you expect a vacation to end up being awesome doesn’t mean you should take one right away.

According to a 2018 study published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology, it found that people who set broad emotional goals for an experience say “This vacation will be so fun!,” ended up feeling more satisfied than those who made specific goals, say “I’m going to feel incredibly relaxed,” or “This trip will change my perspective on the world.”

#2. … But Plan Ahead

Do you think planning is the best part? Not really! According to a 2010 study published in the Journal Applied Research in Quality of Life, vacationers report higher levels of happiness than non-vacationers — but it is only before the vacation.

Afterward, they show no difference in terms of happiness; whether it is packing for a summer vacation in West Africa or a camping expedition in the backcountry. Revel in your pre-vacation and research activities and restaurants, plan itineraries, and buy the stuff you’ll need just to make the most of it.

#3. Do New Things …

Being in a new place gives you the chance to try new things, right? Of course, and that’s not a bad idea either, according to science. The “hedonic adaptation” states that no matter how good an experience is, its experience will eventually fade away with time passing. Doing the same thing over again gets boring, your mind craves new things all the time.

For instance, a 2018 study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology found that workers feel less stressed after learning new things than they did after relaxing. And another study found that couples who did “novel and challenging activities” together maintain an intense love for years in their marriage. Step out of your comfort zone and do something new.

#4. … But Maintain Some Routines

Let’s face it, which is better: a day in which you’re hungover, sleep deprived, and worn out, or a day in which you’re well-rested and energized? Obvious answer. Doing new stuff might sound awesome, but don’t push your limit. Although vacations could make you some silly stuff just to make you turn out miserable, just remember to hold fast.

As much as you should try new things, you should also do your best to avoid shocking your body. Go easy on the alcohol, try to eat about the same amount as you do at home, and do your best to maintain a consistent bedtime and wake-up time.

If you do plan a challenging day — whether that’s hiking up a mountain or trying every swim-up bar at the resort — it is a good idea to also plan some R&R the next day.

#5. Lay Off Social Media …

We’ve all been there! That amazing moment in the Bahamas when you suddenly see notifications from your Instagram about your family and friends chatting on your updates. But while this might not be news to many, social media is stressful.

Studies show that even a five-day break from Facebook is enough to reduce cortisol (the stress hormone) and help you focus more on peer-to-peer socializing. Counterintuitively, another study found that people remember experiences better when they don’t take pictures of them.

This is either because the photography made them pay less attention or because the photos made their brain form less of a memory. Whatever! Ask yourself: is this vacation about me, or my friends online?

#6. … And Save The Best For Last

Answer this honestly: if you have to choose between planning a big fancy dinner for your first night or your last night, when would it be? Go for the latter! This is because of something known as the “peak-end rule,” which says that you judge experiences not on how they felt overall, but on how they ended.

Imagine these scenarios: What if you return from an activity to find a ticket in your car, laugh it off, and go get some ice cream (the ticket will still be there when you get back, we guarantee). What if you have to flag someone down to correct the restaurant bill at the end of the meal, take in some of the views before you depart. You’ll be happier for it!

(Not only can you use this to your advantage in your trip planning, but also in your activities as well).

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Written by: Nana Kwadwo, Tue, Jun 18, 2019.

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