Science Says You Need To Chill Out And Stop Over-Planning Your Vacation

by John Haltiwanger

My favorite vacations -- trips, journeys, adventures, whatever you want to call them -- have always involved minimal planning.

I prefer to wing it and go with the flow.

In my experience, this approach is a lot less stressful, and it typically grants you far more room to discover things and meet people most tourists would rarely encounter.

When you open yourself to the world, it opens itself up to you.

Sure, all traveling requires at least a little planning (don't forget to pack a toothbrush), but over-planning can often mean you limit your overall experience and try to pack in too much in a limited period of time.

This can turn what was meant to be a relaxing experience into a nightmare.

If you're not like me and you think my advice is a bunch of carefree, hippie bullshit -- fair enough.

But the experts back me up.

In a recent interview with Jenni Avins of Quartz, psychologist and author Marc Wittman recommended resisting the desire to plan out every detail of your next vacation.

As a result, you might find the trip felt a lot longer and less stressful by the end of it.

As Wittman explained, this has to do with how we perceive time in relation to how our memory functions.

When we plan too much, and we're focusing on adhering to the schedule, we don't store as much about what's happening around us.

Simply put, when it comes to memory and travel, it's often more about quality than quantity.

So, when we go into a journey with an open mind about what might happen and aren't stressed about getting from one thing to the next, it slows things down and allows us to enjoy the moment more.

In Wittman's words,

Any interval feels longer if you have more memories stored. If you experience more memorable events, then time stretches. If you're totally detached from the things that are happening, then you won't store them. Emotion is the glue to your memory.

Most of us are probably familiar with the saying, "Time flies when you're having fun." And this often rings true.

But there's also this strange sensation that occurs at the end of a great journey where you feel it ended way too soon, but also feel as though the trip lasted a lifetime. That's when you know you really did things right.

It seems we're more likely to experience this sentiment when we give a trip the chance to unfold naturally, instead of forcing every detail.

In other words, try embracing a little spontaneity every once in awhile.

Citations: Your Vacation Will Feel Longer If You Don't Plan It to Death (NYMAG)