They Blinded Me Science

1 Aug

The NY Times has an interesting article titled “Planning the Perfect Vacation” with real studies used to back up travel advice.  Using the term “perfect” to describe any vacation is asking for it but the tips they listed could help at least determine what will get you the closest thing to the dream.  Below is my take on the article that you can read here.


Actual scientific research backs up the idea that half the fun is getting there or planning for it, anyway.  The average person actually experiences more pleasure anticipating the fun that they will have on their trip than when they are in their in the living color.  Another bonus of planning early is that all the details can get ironed out and all that’s left to do is get your butt on a plane.

Shorter Can Be Sweeter

If you don’t have time for one big long trip like I’m currently planning for this might be a great thing.  Taking multiple shorter trips means that you get to anticipate (which is great, see above) three times instead of one.  The article does warn that a balance needs to exist between getting there and being there.  So if it’s gonna take you an entire day to get where you are going you might as well stay there for awhile and enjoy it.

Make Your Time Count

The brilliant suggestion is made to start off your vacation before you leave.  Plan time to pack and get loose ends tied up long before you need to so that you can start unwinding before you leave.  It’s less likely that you’ll forget something really important.

Smartphones are Evil

(Remember: this is my take)  If you can’t say “no” to checking email then make a standard time to check it and leave it at that.  Detaching from the real world means leaving certain things until you return.  I don’t plan on checking my email while we’re gone.  Instead I’m going to leave a detailed itinerary with a couple of people so they’ll know where to reach me.  I’m even planning on deleting certain addictive games (I’m looking at you, Pet Hotel) off my iPhone before we travel so that I don’t get hooked into them when I should be looking out the window or at the Mister.

Set Up Your Out of Office

I do this every Monday night before I leave the office so this is old hat for me.  By leaving a message on both my email and voice mail accounts I am able to set realistic expectations.  I let the person know when I’ll return and where they can turn for help.  When I’ve checked personal email on the road I’ve still put an out of office message on letting people know that I’m only checking sporadically.  But that was back when I announced for roller derby.  Now, I’m pretty sure that Groupon and can wait for me to get around to reading them.

Maybe Planning isn’t OCD?

I was shocked by this one.  Studies suggest that we can actually be more relaxed doing something then just laying around.  I know that I like to have things planned just so I don’t miss things that really matter to me but I try to leave a bunch of slack time so we can relax.  It seems that while relaxing is key, it’s best to do it by being somewhat active.  Going for a walk being better than sitting in a cafe for hours or visiting a museum instead of planting your keister on a bench.  I love it when science agrees with me.  I will try not to celebrate this special occasion too loudly.

Finish Line

The recommendation here is to plan for the end of your vacation.  Get some relaxation time in so that you don’t return to work looking worse than when you left.  Also plan something memorable for your last days so that you have a big key memory to focus on.  Our itinerary currently says that we’ll finish up in Venice.  So that gondola ride and a romantic dinner under the stars might be just the ticket.

More of My Opinions

The article doesn’t touch on this but I feel it’s worth mentioning.  Shitake happens.  The weather might suck, your hotel might be a lemon or you may find that your flight is delayed leaving you in the terminal from hell.  Bummers occur on every trip but some of my best travel moments have happened while dealing with them.  Not focusing on how rotten I feel helps.  Finding something to distract me from it is better.  I like browsing the airport shops for things I’ll never buy.  I make it a game to find the tackiest thing imagineable and asking “You sell a lot of these don’t you?”  If a hotel is depressing then that’s incentive to spend less time there and find somewhere to walk.  Even if it’s only to find cookies.


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