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How Trip Planning and Happiness Are Directly Correlated

Research reveals that planning future travel may boost mood and mindset.

This past year has been difficult as the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted everyone around the world in a different way. Taking precaution with social-distancing and self-isolation measures, people have had to search for unique ways to find moments of peace and happiness. While there have been many obstacles to overcome, in my own home we have found joy in the little moments like having extra time for self-care and starting new family traditions that foster creativity and bonding. One unexpected part of “normal life” that many people are missing right now is leisure travel.

Source: Hilton, used with permission
The anticipation of future travel can boost mood.
Source: Hilton, used with permission

Travel has the unique ability to transform lives by allowing us to become immersed in new cultures, gain a deeper understanding of ourselves, and a greater appreciation for life, and of course, experience an elevated level of happiness along the way. After returning home from exploring a far-flung destination, or even one that’s nearby, I always feel a renewed sense of self and find more joy in the day-to-day moments of my personal life.

While not everyone feels comfortable traveling yet, now is a great time to plan a future trip as a fun way to increase overall happiness by connecting with family members and enjoying the anticipation of an upcoming, big activity.

Recent Hilton research uncovered that nearly 9 out of 10 travelers agree that their travel memories are some of the happiest ones of their lives. The act of traveling creates lifelong, happy memories that people treasure and revisit often, more so than all other types of memories collected over the years. But 95% of those who travel are missing vacationing right now. What’s even more concerning is that we’re facing a travel memory deficit with 188 million travelers feeling there is a lack of travel memories being created. This, combined with widespread health concerns, means vacationing isn’t an option for most right now.

However, all is not lost. Beyond the many upcoming scientific and societal advancements that lead experts to believe travel will soon be possible again, the simple act of planning a trip can greatly increase happiness and help fill the void the lack of travel has left so many of us with. A recent study conducted by the Institute for Applied Positive Research found that 97% of respondents report that having a trip planned makes them happier. While planning is certainly a different kind of happiness than physically going on a vacation, the process of finding the perfect route, accommodations and activities can be a temporary distraction from the difficult times we’re going through. Additionally, the anticipation and sense of hopefulness for better times can keep us motivated and excited for the delayed gratification of a getaway. This “light at the end of the tunnel” often has a long-term mood-boosting effect and can help us relax as it puts us in the mind frame of a more soothing future.

Beyond the psychological benefits planning a vacation can provide, it’s a great time to book as many travel options are less expensive right now, and travel companies have increased flexibility in terms of moving dates and cancelations. Companies are also going above and beyond to prioritize cleanliness, introducing new programs like the Hilton CleanStay program, a unique partnership with RB (the makers of Lysol®), to introduce an even more rigorous cleaning program to give guests complete peace of mind.

While we have an uncertain road ahead of us in terms of a return to normal travel, starting to think about where we want to go next can be a positive exercise in lifting our spirits and fostering mental well-being.

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