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What makes you happier: short trips or a long vacation?

Mental Health

Holidays, who doesn't like them? In Belgium you are usually entitled to 4 weeks of vacation per year. How do you spend your days off? Do you choose to take three to four weeks off in the summer after a year of hard work or do you take a short trip of a few days every couple of months? Below we tell you which way of traveling during the year provides the most relaxation and happiness.

Anticipation 

Do you recognise the feeling that your mind wanders off for a while behind your keyboard to a place far away. For a short moment you will surround yourself with beautiful nature and delicious food from your upcoming holiday country. Research shows that the anticipation of a trip often leads to more happiness than the trip itself. So it is important to take advantage of this! When you book further in advance, you give yourself more time to plan your trip and prepare yourself. You get a big boost of happiness by talking and reading about your holiday destination. If you choose to do various short trips during the year, you can maximise the moments with anticipation. You can then learn new things about the different places of destination every few months. If you opt for a one-off long holiday, you only have one moment of anticipation. By opting for multiple short trips, you can therefore optimise the number of happiness boosts over the year.

Making memories 

At your destination, you will be amazed. You enjoy all the sensations that the new culture, the fantastic environment and the incredibly tasty food provide. This amazement ensures that memories are created. Our brain then captures and stores these memories, but only if there is enough wonder and emotion involved. When we get home we can go back in our thoughts to this wonderful time, which gives a good feeling. When we see a beautiful castle again in the second or third week, we are often a lot less impressed. It is more of the same and is therefore hardly stored in your brain. You make new memories especially in the first few days of your vacation. So on short trips you save almost as many memories as during a long journey. When you choose multiple short trips, you collect in total more memories and moments of happiness.

Holiday Happiness 

Most people experience a blissful and relaxed feeling on vacation. Research shows that after the first few days of our vacation, the feeling of happiness increases, with a peak feeling on the eighth day, after which the holiday fun becomes constant. With a trip of eight days you have enough time to relax. Moreover, the trip is short enough to avoid arguments between travelling partners and it is a relatively small effort to get back to your busy life and work after your holiday. This ensures that you avoid unnecessary stress. Longer holidays sometimes involve more of a drag, irritations arise and it is more difficult to start working on your accumulated pile of tasks again afterwards. All this leads to a reduced feeling of happiness. In short, for an optimal happiness boost during your holiday, eight days seems ideal.

In short, think carefully in advance what you will do with all your vacation days! The most beneficial thing is to treat yourself to a short happiness boost of an average of eight days several times a year. In this way you maximise your anticipation, collect various good memories in your brain and make the most of your happiness during the holidays. Don't wait until summer, but pack your bags and go take regular shorter trips throughout the year.

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