Planning your trip is more important than the amount you spend.
Narrow to a pair
Like an all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet, holiday options can be too much of a good thing. Do you take an ocean cruise? A trek through the mountains? A food tour in Singapore? Research has shown that when the human mind encounters too many options, it shuts down. Psychologist Barry Schwartz calls it the paradox of choice. Some choice is better than none, he says, but it doesn’t hold that more is always better than less. So before making the final decision on where to go, narrow down your choices to just two. You’ll forget all the others and feel confident that you picked the best one.
Think far, far ahead
A week-long trip is actually composed of three things, according to behavioural economist Dan Ariely: months of anticipation, the trip itself and the nostalgia you experience for years afterwards. To maximise your enjoyment, you should cater to all three stages. Airfare is cheapest approximately five months before a domestic flight, according to Skyscanner’s website, so it’s wise to hold off on finalising plans until then. But you can still browse hotels or take virtual roller-coaster rides on YouTube months before that. One 2010 Dutch study found that people were happier before a trip than they were after they returned. That’s because anticipation is a powerful thing – it’s essentially the same reason you’re happier on Friday than on Sunday.
Longer trips aren't better
Behavioural economist Daniel Kahneman argues that we’re made up of two selves: our experiencing self and our remembering self. The experiencing self lives in the moment. The remembering self lives in the past. Our remembering self has a hard time telling a one-week holiday from a two-week one because, as Kahneman says, “There are no new memories added. You have not changed the story.” From the perspective of the remembering self, short and long holidays are effectively equal. If you are looking to save some money, shorter is the way to go.