This Travel Tip Will Help Stave Off Those Very Real Post-Vacay Blues

mbg Beauty and Lifestyle Senior Editor By Alexandra Engler
mbg Beauty and Lifestyle Senior Editor
Alexandra Engler is the Beauty and Lifestyle Senior Editor. She received her journalism degree from Marquette University, graduating first in the department.

Image by Lyuba Burakova / Stocksy

Healthy, summer, and travel can be things that often feel at odds with one another. That doesn't need to be the case—and, in fact, making your summer travel plans align with your day-to-day wellness standards is easier than you might think. In our new series, we're exploring everything that's unhealthy about exploring, so you can have a more well-informed journey. Welcome to Healthy Summer Travel.

There's an odd collection of emotions that comes with the end of vacation: Perhaps you're excited to return to your daily habits or see your family, friends, or pets. Perhaps you can start to hear the buzz-buzz-buzz of work emails again. Perhaps there's that melancholy sort of feeling you get at the end of a really good dinner or in the final days of summer: not quite sadness, but a longing for a just a bit more time. I feel it every return flight home from a vacation. Yes, there's a part of me that is eager to get back to life, pick up my work duties, and get back to business. But there's that wanting simmering underneath it, too.

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 packed in, eases any feeling about something coming to an end.

But don't take my word for it. Take researchers'! According to this often-cited study, we actually get more joy from planning a vacation than taking that vacation: Researchers found that those who went on vacations were happiest before 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 it only gives more credence to the importance of planning. It's the anticipation that makes the trip special. And in a related study published years later, this only became more clear. In a 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 most sense. Then I sketch out my trip: What are my goals for the trip, what are the must-experience activities, if I want to do any day trips, where I might be interested in staying, or 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.

Another bonus: It will actually encourage you to take your vacation days. As we know from tons of research, Americans tend to do very little of that: Year after year, the numbers roll in, and there are always plenty of unused vacation days. The most recent poll shows that only 28% of workers plan to use all of their allotted time. And you know the best part of having a healthy and relaxing vacation? Actually taking it.

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