I’m always waiting for something.
During the peak vacation months of summer, I crave the moments after I have booked a plane, reserved a room or simply made plans to crash at a friend’s shore house. I love pulling out my blue planner and marking down the days that I will finally be away and enjoying the anticipation of wondering what will happen, who I will meet, and all the excitement I’m sure to have. Time after time, I build up my trips to an unfathomable amount of fun, and to be honest they rarely ever live up to my expectations (although looking back in my highlight reel of vacations, they always do).
This is good.
Turns out, in research that doesn’t shock me, the largest jump in trip-bliss comes from the seemingly small act of planning the trip in the first place and waiting for it to come to fruition. Researchers from the Netherlands determined in the journal Applied Research in Quality of Life that the anticipation of an upcoming trip can actually last up to eight weeks (so buy your plane tickets early).
And, oddly enough, it turns out that those in the study who even post-trip described their vacation as “relaxing” did not experience inflated levels of happiness after the trip was over. This means that the happiest they were the entire time was in the process of planning the trip.
This doesn’t mean that you need to have a vacation planned every eight weeks to experience this higher-than-baseline happiness. Instead, make it hometown-scale by arranging your weekend early and making plans with friends for later early in the week now. Find fairs, farms, museums, tours, cities and activities to do nearby where you live and decide that’s where you’ll be this Saturday. Pack your weekends so full of fun that you’ll forget it was just Saturday and Sunday and you’ll wonder how it’s humanely possible that you have this much fun every five days.
Even if when I get to my destination the food kind of sucks, I fight with my friends and I don’t meet one single good-looking guy, I still always relish every week, every day, every moment before my trip, imagining the extraordinary memories we are sure to create. I like putting in the legwork and doing the research required to make sure that I see every sight and packed all of the perfect outfits. I need to have a full calendar so no matter how many days pass, there is always something new and exciting to look forward to.
None of my imagined memories happen. Never.
However, in a perfect sync with a life aboard the traveling circus, madder things always occur leading me to imagine, anticipate, and relish over and over again.