Planning Travel can Boost your Mental Well-Being. It’s Science!

If there were a “word of the year” for 2020, a key contender would definitely be “uncertainty”. As we continue to navigate volatility and the unknown, it obviously gets harder and harder to plan. Spontaneously hopping on a plane and jetting off to an exotic foreign destination? Sounds like something from a sci-fi novel these days!

While we realize that the short-term is incredibly volatile, we are collectively confident that the long-term will bring more certainty. That’s why we are dedicating this month’s blog post to the positive psychology of planning travel. Even if it’s 6 months, a year or even further out, having a trip planned has been proven to make us happier. Why? Well, it comes down to science actually…

Tourism & Happiness

I think we all agree on the fact that we travel because it makes us happy (well, maybe not for business sometimes…or to visit the in-laws). Have a couple weeks off work? I can almost guarantee that most of you reading this would use this time to get on a long-haul flight and explore a new country or region of the world. We travel for so many reasons. Whether it’s as simple as having some time away in a different environment or as complex as better understanding ourselves and the world that we live in, travel can be introspective, stress reducing and overall beneficial to our mental and emotional health. But does the bulk of the happiness come from travel itself? Science begs to differ.

Planning can Bring as much (or more) Happiness than Travel Itself

According to a study done in the Netherlands, travelers are actually happiest in the planning process. That’s right – we derive more satisfaction from the act of planning our journey than from the trip itself or even after we’ve returned! How does this make any sense? Well, it all comes down to anticipation. According to another article in the Journal of Experimental Psychology, “We tend to experience more intense emotions about future events than those in the past. This is because, on the whole, we have an expectation that future events will make us feel more emotional than ones that have passed. On top of this, we are also more likely to talk about how excited we are about something we have planned compared to something we have already done.” Put simply, having something to look forward to down the road leads to greater mental well-being.

How to Plan Ahead in an Age of Uncertainty?

Well, that’s all fine and dandy, but we’re in the middle of a pandemic. How can we plan when planning is not possible? While this is true in the short-term, we are seeing a steadily increasing number of bookings here at Discover Corps well into 2021 and 2022. Part of this is due to our risk-free booking policy (which allows for full refunds up to 5 months prior to departure – no questions asked) and part of it is due to our early booking discount ($200 off per person for booking 9 months ahead? Sounds good to me). However, I really think this all boils down to the simple act of having something to look forward to. We need this now more than ever and maybe travel is the key? Even if we have to eventually push this off or make adjustments, the sheer act of planning, researching and putting this on our calendars can be a positive boost in our mental well-being in both the short and long-term. Here’s to travel!

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