Here in Midwest USA, it is dreary and gray. People are lacking Vitamin D from minimal sunshine. Mix in that winter months often include waking before dawn and driving home after dusk. Winter temps can be especially brutal with whipping winds. One escape would be to take a vacation. Researchers in the Netherlands studied vacation and happiness, and the results were interesting. Planning and anticipation vacation increased happiness levels for eight weeks. Meanwhile, reporting a “very restful” vacation increased happiness levels for two weeks.
This means taking two-one week vacations can increase happiness levels 22 weeks, while taking a two week vacation would be 12 weeks of increased happiness.
There is the whole no time off work and cost of a weekend vacation that prohibits a lot of us from taking off twice a year, but I have a couple thoughts. The first is to plan a weekend staycation. Research a fun movie to watch (and then borrow it from a friend). Look up a new recipe with staple ingredients you have on hand, and eat it picnic style on a blanket in the den. Look up a fun seasonal scavenger hunt to go on around your house. You get all the happiness benefits of planning and anticipating a vacation with no time needed off work and minimal cost.
The second option is to spend downtime over a month, planning a dream vacation you don’t actually plan on taking. Pick a country and research where to stay, flights, transportation, sites to see, and food. You can even learn basic words in their language. You will still see increased happiness benefits from the planning of the vacation. You never know, you may fall in love with your dream vacation so much that you find a way to make it happen.
So, are you going to plan a vacation, a weekend staycation, or a dream trip?