Does vacation make you happier?

Here's me on vacation in Sonoma last fall. This trip made me happier before, during and after.

Are you planning a spring break getaway or a summer family vacation?

If so, you might be enjoying the happiest part of the trip now — the planning.

According to a recent wellness piece on nytimes.com, Dutch researchers looked at the effect of vacations on people’s happiness and found planning a vacation delivers the biggest increase in happiness. Looking forward to a vacation, the researchers found, made people happier for eight weeks.

However, when they returned from the vacation, it was back to normal.

“Vacations do make people happy,” Mr. Nawijn said. “But we found people who are anticipating holiday trips show signs of increased happiness, and afterward there is hardly an effect.

The results are published in the journal Applied Research in Quality of Life.

I know I love looking forward to a trip. I loved researching which wineries we should visit in Sonoma and where to stay in France. I’m looking forward to New Orleans next month, excitedly investigating new restaurants and reminiscing about favorite bands.

Maybe we should better appreciate the whole experience of vacations, including the pleasant distraction it gives us to plan for them. Or do you think modern life is so hectic that it just evaporates our time off bliss too quickly?

Do vacations make you happier? If so, how long does it last?

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Categories: career, home and family, lifestyle

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3 replies

  1. Almost without fail they make me happier, especially when someplace peaceful and lovely like the beach or woods. Then, paradoxically, I often have a heavy crash upon returning to the city.

  2. Gina,

    I’ve become a fan of more frequent, shorter trips, in part because for me, it cuts down the stress of wrapping up everything at work before I go and catching up after I return. I get to enjoy the upside with less downside.

    Plus there’s more opportunity to look forward to it, which is a bonus.

    Thanks for your comment.

  3. I think part of the issue is that people spend vacations either working or thinking about work. Similar to your Napa Valley experience, I just got back from a trip to India and The Philippines and enjoyed every second of it – before, during, and after.

    Perhaps the solution for people who revel in the planning process is to take shorter trips more frequently. Visiting friends and family in other cities is more affordable and, in my opinion, highly underrated.

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