5 Tips for Planning Your PERFECT Vacation- With Science!

New year, new adventures! This year, we're hoping to help even more people make the most of their travels, whether they're heading out for a quick weekend getaway or backpacking across Europe. That said, even though our bags are pretty freakin' awesome, you need a little more than a kickass backpack to make your trip perfect.

Designing a trip you'll remember for years comes down to a few factors. Finding the right mix of adventure, relaxation, and comfort will help you plan a dreamcation that's every bit as dreamy as you hoped. Here's how it's done. 

1. Start slow and go out with a bang

When it comes to an enjoyable trip, the timing makes a difference. Don't plan to be too busy on the first day of your trip, and leave enough downtime when you return. Leaving some room for relaxation is important so you have time to settle in when you arrive and unpack when you get home. Otherwise, you'll feel too rushed and stressed out to reflect on all the fun you had! To maximize the good vibes, end your trip on a high note, with an epic night out or outdoor adventure. 

2. Choose a healthy balance of quantity and quality

Instead of planning a full month of exploration in New Zealand, consider taking shorter, more frequent trips. Long trips take you to another world, maybe even another way of life, but studies show that our levels of happiness revert back to where they were before the vacation shortly after we resume our normal routines. Instead of one long trip, opt for several short ones to spread the excitement of new experiences throughout the year. 

3. Stay away from work...unless you don't want to

If your boss is plaguing you with phone calls and emails while you're supposed to be on paid vacation, don't hesitate to respectfully state that you'll be happy to help with any requests once you return. This is your vacation, and you deserve to enjoy it! If you work for yourself, however, and fitting in an hour or two of work makes you happy, go for it! The key is to do as much or as little work as YOU want. This goes for cooking, too. If you love to cook, go for it. If not, budget a little extra for eating out so you don't have to stress about doing dishes. 

4. Try something you've never done before

Research shows that our brains need novel experiences to keep us alert, energized, and excited about life. In particular, things that scare us a little make us feel alive! That's why roller coasters are so thrilling. For the same reason, going scuba diving, hiking up a mountain, or going zip-lining can get us fired up. Research nearby activities and pick one you've never tried for a trip that's as fulfilling as it is fun. 

5. Speaking of fun, have lots of it. (Duh!) 

There are five things proven to be the most enjoyable: socializing, relaxing, exercising, eating, and *ahem*, romantic activities. While the tone of the trip may be different depending on who you're traveling with, try to create a nice mix of all of these activities for maximum fun. 

The short version? Plan a trip that feels fun to YOU. Our experiences are as unique as we are, so choose the ones that get you fired up and ready to start packing. Happy trails! 

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