Planning a Trip Can Boost Your Mental Health

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By Erin Davis

Clicking through travel sites and booking a trip can improve your mental health, even if you can’t travel quite yet. 

Just because travel COVID-19 travel restrictions may still be in place, doesn’t mean we should stop adding destinations to our travel bucket list – and even booking a future trip.

Four months in, social isolation can undoubtedly impact our mental health, resulting in everything from anxiety, fear, and depression, to restlessness and an inability to focus. At a time when mental health is therefore particularly important, having a vacation to look forward to – even if it is months away – could be just what you need to lift your spirits.

Body Holiday St. Lucia

A number of studies have correlated taking vacation time to mental health benefits. These benefits are numerous; stress reduction, mood improvement and increased creativity are just a few. But simply planning a trip can also work wonders for your mental state. In a 2014 study that’s is now more relevant than ever, researchers Amit Kuma, Matthew Killingsworth and Thomas Gilovich ultimately found that delayed gratitude – that time between when you book the trip and actually go on it – was more pleasurable than immediate consumption.

Grand Velas Riviera Maya

The University of Cornwall research paper examined the psychological feelings before and after the experience happens and what the changes were. In short, they found that feelings of anticipation and excitement – having something to look forward to – offer a mental health boost. Those participants who had a vacation planned were much happier.

The bottom line is that it is Experiences more than Things are what truly fuel your soul. “Experiential purchases (money spent on doing) tend to provide more enduring happiness than material purchases (money spent on having),” write the authors in the paper’s abstract. So, no matter how many items you may eagerly add to that online shopping cart, you likely won’t gain the same feeling of happiness as you do when you have an experience to look forward to – especially if that happens to be an unforgettable vacation.

Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise

Looking at it that way, your future vacation begins as soon as you book it. In the meantime, use this downtown to decide which destination you’d like to check off your bucket list next. Start researching flights, hotels, resorts, and experiences now.

Perhaps now more than ever is the time to consider booking a wellness vacation.

If you’re looking to refresh and refocus, we’ve compiled a list of wellness travel hotspots to have on your list for 2021, as well as one with some of our weight loss spas and fitness retreats to help you decide on the right one to meet your needs. Whether your idea of a wellness vacation is breaking a sweat with an ocean view in Miami, indulging in spa treatments in Mexico, or a hiking-focused stay in Vermont, you’ll find an option that caters to your mental and physical health priorities.

Joali Maldives

And, if you need help planning that trip, travel advisors who are trusted members of the Wellness Tourism Association can be found here.

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Erin Davis is a Toronto-based writer and regular contributor to Travel to Wellness.