You’ve got to love those last minute trips, right? Before you know it, you find yourself bathing in foreign sunlight ready to start looking for the most surprising hidden gems. But did you know that those trips planned way ahead, actually make you much happier?

Maybe you’ve noticed once yourself: anticipation is one of the best things about making plans. We might be suckers for this too; our kitchen wall features a chalkboard on which we literally count down to our next travel plans. This rewards us with a good feeling even if the trip is still a month away. This good feeling was researched by numerous psychological studies, to find out how this anticipation actually works. With my four years of study in the psychology field, I was curious to dive into this.

As it turns out, to be in anticipation of something positive results in happiness. Even more so, researchers found that people are measurably happier during the anticipation of a holiday, than they are during the actual holiday! And this is not only true for holidays; neurological music research had similar conclusions. While listening to music, dopamine levels reach a high just before our favorite part of the song. Levels are then even higher than they are during the favorite part of the song. Numerous other psychological studies suggest that anticipation contributes to happiness in life. And this is also true for travel: anticipation makes you happy. Wonderful, isn’t it?

Truth be told, this is not always an easy piece of advice to follow. For various reasons, you’re not always able to have a holiday planned, especially during the ongoing covid pandemic with everchanging travel rules. So, is it better to wait a little longer to book your next holiday? Tough choice… We took the gamble. As I write this, I glance over to the chalkboard on our kitchen wall and am cautiously rewarded with a positive feeling: only 15 days left until we leave for Málaga!

Let us know: do you have your next holiday planned?

Kirsten

Sources:

Nawijn, J., Marchand, M. A., Veenhoven, R., & Vingerhoets, A. J. (2010). Vacationers happier, but most not happier after a holiday. Applied Research in Quality of Life, 5(1), 35-47.

Salimpoor, V. N., Benovoy, M., Larcher, K., Dagher, A., & Zatorre, R. J. (2011). Anatomically distinct dopamine release during anticipation and experience of peak emotion to music. Nature neuroscience, 14(2), 257-262.

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