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Best Vacation Ever!

Esther Ilana Rabi

Researchers and vacation professionals offer advice to make your trip the relaxing getaway you’re looking for

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

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The people who really enjoy their vacations make a conscious decision to do it. They tell themselves, ‘I’m here and I’m not on my normal schedule.’ ”

T wo weeks spent roaming the jungles of Africa or historic Jewish sites sounds amazing in theory. But on a “once-in-a-lifetime” vacation, the pressure’s on for every moment to be spectacular — which isn’t possible. And then there’s all the packing and the jet lag and the “Oh, no! We forgot the baby’s diaper cream!”

Let the Excitement Build

Enjoy thinking about the great time you’re going to have. Anticipation is exciting — that’s why lottery tickets sell so well. Players know their chances are miniscule, but it’s fun to dream about winning. It’s the same with vacations. When 1,000 Dutch vacationers were questioned, most admitted they enjoyed the anticipation of vacation more than they enjoyed the vacation itself.

Discuss the itinerary with your traveling companions. Together, work out where you’ll be going and how you’ll get there. It’s fun, and it’ll reduce the stress at the beginning of your vacation. If you’re visiting historic or cultural sites, read about them before you go. It’ll increase your anticipation as well as your enjoyment of the place when you get there.

But don’t let expectations rise too high; that makes normal imperfections feel like big disappointments. If things don’t work out exactly right — if the pool isn’t as nice as everyone thought it would be, or the tour guide only speaks French — they can become a major letdown. Not getting what you expect can create a funk that lasts for days.

If you can prepay your vacation expenses, do it. This can raise your anticipation, and then once you’re on vacation, you’ll be able to focus on the experience, not the expense. It may even feel free.

 

Schedule it Right

Yes, it’s vacation, but it’s still a good idea to pull out your planner. People who schedule their free time are happier, Japanese researchers find. If you don’t schedule it, you waste it.

There’s no need to try every possible activity. Rejuvenation is the goal, not exhaustion

One caveat — you want to put a lot of fun stuff on the schedule, not just one major event per day. Harvard psychology professor Daniel Gilbert has proven that frequent pleasurable experiences make people happier than less-frequent experiences, even if the occasional experiences are more expensive, unusual, and exciting.

It can be quite a strain to make vacation plans — arranging tickets and transportation and checking the hours that venues are open. It’s best to work it all out before precious vacation hours begin ticking away.

That’s an advantage of guided tour groups, says Chananel Green of Glatt Safaris. Ten days in Cape Town sounds great, although not as much fun as visiting four different countries. But the planning for such a trip is complex to do from a distance, not to mention exhausting. Experienced tour guides know how to do it, which sites to hit, and how long to spend in each place. (Excerpted from Family First, Issue 597)

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