No one is a stranger to that crushing, panicked feeling when their vacation is coming to a close. It’s Sunday already? It’s been a week already? Where did the time go? I need a vacation after this vacation. Unfortunately, the time off never feels long enough. But here is some insight into your attitude and approach to your vacation that may be contributing to how short it feels. So listen up.
A recent study in the Journal of Consumer Research concluded that categorizing experiences makes them feel shorter. Though categorizing events and managing time with an obsessive compulsive mentality may be beneficial in a workweek that demands structure and organization, it could be tragic in making the most out of your most memorable vacation moments. This means that if you squeeze too much in a day, if you plan too much out (due to your case of F.O.M.O.), you are going to end up stressed and disappointed when you’re exhausted and didn’t make it to everything on your list.
Categorizing also means pairing similar events or experiences together. For example, you want to hit the beach during the day, the boardwalk at sunset, and then the hot tub lagoon at midnight. For the following day, you plan for the museum in the morning, the art walk in the evening, and the play after dinner. These two days can be categorized into “outdoor waterside activities” and “arts and humanities.” But according to the Journal of Consumer Research study, evidence shows that vacationers walked away with a more positive experience when they mixed and matched. The balance of different activities each day was generally more enjoyable.
Marc Wittmann, a psychologist and author, suggests that vacationers seek out meaningful, brand new experiences, instead of over-planning and categorizing. So breathe. Stay in the moment. Stop and breathe in that fresh mountain air. It’s going to be okay. Make the most of your time there.