Sunday, October 18, 2020

Be happy: make travel plans and book flights now

This weeks post is courtesy of Scott Keyes, owner of He expresses a common feeling that frequent travelers know well—but have been missing.

The Happiness Hack of Booking Flights

A few weeks ago I booked my first international trip since the pandemic began—Madrid in late February 2021. Every time I book a flight, I’m reminded again of how wonderful it is to have a trip to look forward to. (That’s especially the case this cursed year.)

In fact, one of the most overlooked benefits of travel is that having a trip to look forward to—even one 10 months from now—can do wonders for your happiness today.

Tomorrow's Trip is Today's Treat

People usually discuss travel solely in terms of the joy you get during a trip, while ignoring the joy it brings you before a trip. I’m not just referring to the dopamine hit you get from clicking purchase on a cheap flight. I’m also talking about letting yourself spend the next however many months looking forward to that trip.

After all, nobody books a trip to Tokyo and then doesn’t think about it again until they board the plane. If you’re anything like me, the entire interim is spent dreaming of sushi and researching hidden gems I want to see while I’m there.

We can always daydream about future travels, but where the true excitement comes is when it’s about an actual planned trip, not just a someday/maybe idea. And what takes a trip from a mere idea to something real? When you’ve booked the flight.

Studies Show Anticipation is One of The Best Parts of Travel

When researchers have examined which parts of vacation bring us the most joy, it turns out that the period before a trip may be even more important than the trip itself. Study after study has shown how much happiness the anticipation of a trip can bring.

It’s not just that planning trips gives us joy today; it also makes travel more possible. According to one study, people who plan trips well in advance took 50% more time off from work to travel than non-planners. One big reason why: bosses are far more likely to approve time off when it’s requested months in advance.

Free Changes on All New Bookings

Right now, airlines are offering free changes on all new bookings, even basic economy. As a result, if come February 2021 it’s still not possible or wise to take that trip to Spain I booked, I can just push the trip back to the summer without having to pay any change fee. Remember though: free changes aren’t the same as free cancellations, and you’re still responsible if there’s a fare difference with the new flight you choose.

Knowing I can book flights and still have flexibility is, personally, the linchpin that gives me confidence to plan future travel amidst so much uncertainty today. Think of it as booking in pencil, not in pen.

In the past month, I’ve heard over and over from people how excited they are to make up for lost time once they feel safe and comfortable traveling again. And many of them have already started making 2021 travel plans as a treat for both their future selves and their current selves.

Photos from free sources. 


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