10 Ways to Get the Most Out of Your Vacation

How to turn a good vacation into a great one.

Posted May 18, 2016

There are a number of things that you can do before, during, and after, your vacation that will ensure that it is a terrific and memorable experience. Here are 10 strategies based on psychological research.

Learn something about the location beforehand.  There are many reasons why you should do some preparation before your trip.  Look at a map to get an idea of the area you will be visiting.  Find out about points of interest.  By preparing beforehand you won’t feel let down that you missed something that you really should have seen.

Pack smartly and correctly.  Plan your packing so that you are prepared for the weather, and so that you don’t overload yourself with too much luggage.  You don’t want to spend your precious vacation time shopping for those items you forgot to bring.

Manage your expectations.  Part of the vacation experience is the anticipation you feel before you depart.  Imagine what you will experience, but don’t anticipate that your vacation will be perfect and flawless.  Try to find something interesting and positive in each of your vacation experiences.

Disconnect.  Research shows that on vacation many Americans stay connected to work. As a result, they don’t get the benefits of escaping from the pressures of worklife, and “de-stressing.” If you do have to check in every now and then, limit that time.

Don’t try to do too much.  A vacation should help us reduce stress, not create more.  Vacation at a leisurely pace – one that fits your temperament and preferences.

Do something unique every day.  When we get into a routine, our experiences are less memorable and exciting.  By doing something different each day, we create stronger vacation memories, and remember more.

Don’t take too many pictures.  Research has shown that taking pictures sort of frees our memory from making lasting images in our minds. So, definitely take pictures of those special sights and places, but don’t try to photograph everything. Use your mind’s eye, as well as the camera’s.

Get off the beaten path.  Spend some time outside of the typical tourist zones.  Get to see how the local people live.  You will gain a better idea of the region, country, and culture. Again, the more diverse the experiences, the more memorable.

Individual differences matter.  Remember that we are all different and we like different things.  Do some self-reflection and make sure that you choose activities that you find interesting and exciting.  Don’t do someone else’s vacation.

Consider mini-vacations. Most Americans don’t use all of their allotted vacation time. Use your vacation time, and space your vacations out with several mini-vacations throughout the year and your one or two ‘maxi-vacations.”

Bon voyage!

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