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Why You Should Always Be Planning Your Next Trip

Why You Should Always Be Planning Your Next Trip

May 17, 2024

In the 1970s Heinz Ketchup ran a series of TV commercials which highlighted an attribute of their product that many people saw as a frustration: It took a long time to pour their ketchup out of the bottle.

Heinz, however, flipped this seeming negative into a defining positive. While you were waiting for the ketchup to finally reach your burger, you were filled with ever increasing anticipation. The brilliant ad producers were playing on one of the most powerful sources of positive emotions: anticipating something we're going to enjoy.

Several years ago, this power of anticipation showed up in an unexpected way in a Dutch study about the effect of vacations on people's overall happiness.

The researchers, who published their findings in the journal Applied Research in Quality of Life, studied the reported happiness levels of nearly a thousand adults before and after their vacation. The survey also included more than 500 people who did not go on vacation, to act as a baseline.1

What they found was that the biggest boost in happiness came from planning the vacation. In fact, this "anticipation effect" boosted happiness eight weeks beforehand. After the vacation, reported happiness quickly dropped to baseline levels for most people.

The researchers speculated that one reason vacations don't boost happiness after the trip is the stress of returning to work and everyday responsibilities.

Interestingly, they found no correlation between the length of the vacation and the overall happiness it produced. The lead researcher suggested that since most happiness comes from planning and anticipating a vacation, people may get more out of several small trips a year instead of one big one.

We see two takeaways here that are apropos to retirement saving.

First, if you try to make your retirement simply an extended vacation, you won't be as happy in the long run. When an experience becomes everyday, and you no longer have to anticipate it for any amount of time, you soon tire of it.

Second, you should consider the potential benefits of consistently planning your next trip. When you manage your income through a budget, you have permission to dream as big as you want when it comes to vacations. Just create a category for your trip and set aside money each month. That’s healthy anticipation. You'll be surprised how quickly it adds up. Plus, taking the extra time to save and plan will help you enjoy the whole thing even more.

If you need help getting a handle on your finances so you can realize your travel dreams and still meet your retirement goals, be sure to talk with your trusted advisor.

2024-175166 Exp 05/26 



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