One Tip that Can Arguably Maximise Your Vacation Happiness Quotient
Blink once if traveling makes you happy. Now, blink twice if you see your happiness levels quickly drop as you go through your credit card bills, post vacation.
The memories of fun, freedom, good food, adventure, not to mention the pile of gorgeous pictures in your camera become secondary for a moment.
You occupy yourself with an emotion that’s nowhere close to blissful, which by the way, was how you were feeling when you had that amazing dinner during your vacation while watching the sunset, just last week, remember? Probably not.
There’s no denying that taking time off to explore the world enriches our lives. A lot of people we know love to travel including ourselves. It makes us happy.
The Question is – How do we maximize the happiness we get from our vacations?
Thanks to credit cards, today we can book a flight faster than we can spell Mississippi. Need hotel bookings sorted? Swipe. When we get there ‘Oh I’m on a vacation, I need to use my credit card.’ Swipe. Getting back home from the swipe-fest though, is not so much fun. So how can we seamlessly settle back into our ordinary life without stressing over how to pay back the credit card bills?
The solution is called “Pay Now, Enjoy Later.”
We’ve all either read or heard of this study published in the journal Applied Research in Quality of Life, that proves that the largest boost in happiness comes from the simple act of planning a vacation.
Believe it or not, people are more excited for their vacation while they are planning it and than when they are on the vacation itself.
Let’s not even talk about how a huge pile of debt makes them feel after returning to normal schedule.
To improve upon this overall experience, the “pay now, enjoy later” strategy works like a charm.
Whether you pay early or later, vacations aren’t cheap. However, if you buy your ticket with the money you already have set aside for this ticket, when you come back from your vacation, you don’t have to worry about the money you owe to anyone.
If you save up to enjoy your vacation, spending that saving will make you feel better and you will enjoy the moment much better.
And, it can be real fun. I’ve tried it while planning my backpacking trip to Spain last year. I did my research and realized it wasn’t going to be cheap or easy. You see, I couldn’t just skip Barcelona and it would be a crime to be in Spain and not go to the beautiful and magical seville where I ended up modeling for a local fashion designer as well! You can read about my Spain Adventure here.
Anyway, once I knew where I wanted to go and what my route was going to be, I calculated my plane, inter-city train and taxi fares. I then reviewed how much it would cost me to stay in all the cities I was visiting and then budgeted for food, shopping and sight seeing. When I had a rough idea, I divided it by the time I had before the trip (this is where advance planning comes handy as you get more time to save) and set a goal for myself to save for the trip.
To make it more fun, I bought a glass jar and every ad hoc saving went into it as my Spain fund. If I came across any money from my family when I was visiting or a pair of shoes/dresses/bags that I really wanted to buy but had self control to choose experience over material goods, I would reward myself by putting an equivalent amount in my Spain fund. Finally, by the time I booked my flights I was fully committed. The entertainment portion of my monthly budget was no longer spent on random things and events that did not matter but had a purpose of its own.
I started to learn Spanish and reading about Spain. I was always looking forward to the trip for months which also encouraged me to cut down on spending that did not seem worth it, because in my mind, I was saving for something worthwhile. We only give up something for something better. All the planning and anticipation had my happiness levels soaring.
Did my Spain fund collect all the money I needed to not use my credit card at all? No. Come on, I’m a girl! I shopped and overspent and drank one too many margaritas. When I returned though, I had nothing but amazing memories to look back at. I did not have anyone standing next to me ready for me to sign them a cheque. The weird or rather interesting thing was, the trip seemed free to me. I wasn’t telling friends on a saturday night “Oh, I’m so broke after Spain” because I wasn’t. If I had any more vacation days, I was ready to take off on another holiday in a couple months! That’s what taught me how I could maximize the happiness I got from my vacations.
If this is how you already plan your vacations, you’re awesome, we should meet and you could teach me a thing or two more about optimizing life experiences. If you don’t, I’d encourage you to try it and let me know how it goes for you!
Travel far and wide.
Love & Laughter!