There is one trick I always stick to when I’m returning home: Plan your next adventure. It helps ease the transition of vacation to real life and gives something to look forward to. Coming back home, with a bit of anticipation already sneaking, eases any negative feeling about your free days coming to an end.
But don’t take my word for it. Take researchers’!
According to this often-cited study3, we actually get more joy from planning a vacation than taking that vacation: Researchers found that those who went on vacations were happiest before a holiday; post-vacation they reported the same levels of happiness as someone who did not take a vacation. Sure, that in and of itself sounds, um, bleak, but the reasoning behind it isn’t.
And in a related study published years later, this only became more clear. In this study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology, researchers found that when you highly anticipate an event, it can help ease your feelings when you remember said event after.
That basically means that the act of being excited about a trip will actually make you feel fonder about the trip after, even if it wasn’t as exceptional as you once expected.
Here’s what I do, which is not at all hard: At the airport I pick up some travel magazines before departure for some inspiration (that’s more for fun and pretty pictures; I likely already have an idea in my head of where I want to go next, but broadening my search never hurts).
From there, I make note of how many frequent flyer miles I have, what might the estimated budget be (so I can start saving), how many vacation days I have, and what timing makes the most sense.
Then I sketch out my trip: What are my goals for the trip, what are the must-experience activities, whether I want to take any day trips, where I might be interested in staying, and the like. Then that’s it! You can save all the nitty-gritty reservations and bookings for a later date, but you’ve built the foundations for your next adventure.