Make Your Vacations Last Longer

It’s an effect everyone knows well: the week before a vacation seems to take forever, while the time you actually spend on vacation flies by in the blink of an eye. Why is this, and how in the heck can we prevent it so we can revel in our vacation time for longer and longer? Well, as the old adage goes, “time flies when you’re having fun,” and we don’t think vacation will ever feel as long as work does, simply because you aren’t checking the clock every 20 minutes. However, we do have a tip to make your vacation seem slightly longer.

It comes down to the concept of categorizing your experiences. While breaking things into quick sections in your day is helpful at work for making the time pass (and keeping yourself organized), it can be detrimental to your vacation experience. At least that’s what researchers Anuj K. Shah and Adam L. Alter found in their new study in the Journal of Consumer Research. The more you plan your day around one thing or category on your vacation (say, all art museums in one day), the more quickly time will seem to pass. However, if you break it up like you’re at work, i.e. hop from “task” to “task”, the more you’ll feel like you accomplished something and experienced more.

The authors gave an amusement park as an example. If you do every ride all at once, before focusing on games or shows, the day zips by. But, they say, it “might seem less fleeting if rides and games are interspersed so that guests can still look forward to both rides and games.” It’s an interesting thought, planning your vacation to vary your days and make it stretch out longer than it is. Neat trick, right? We bet, however, that they’ll never come up with a cure for those back-from-vacation blues!