I Should Have Been a Travel Agent

...so many websites to check out...

There is something addictive about planning a vacation. So many websites to look at, so many lodging options to choose between, so many possible routes to investigate, so many national parks that might be near the chosen travel path, so many friends to visit, so many possible detours to make. Doing the research and weighing the options can keep me busy for days.

And then there are the lists. I love making lists. By the time I’m done, my bed and the floor beside my bed are covered with various lists: all of the above options must be listed, plus packing lists, shopping lists, lists of probable costs, lists of possible daily schedules. And don’t forget, when the initial lists are covered with too many cross-outs and write-overs, it is time to make new, more legible, more up-to-date lists.

Eventually, all these lists and websites are condensed down into a few master lists with website addresses written down (and bookmarked as favorites). Now it is time to contact friends and family along the proposed route, checking to see who is (and isn’t) available for a visit along the way. Did I say the process keeps me busy for days? Maybe you’d better expand that to WEEKS!

For years, my husband and kids either laugh at me, or ruefully shake their head at me. They can’t imagine why I do this, but they know better than to interrupt the process. They quietly hope that eventually Mom will come back to her senses.

For me? As I said, I love the process. There are so many possibilities in front of me. And with my rose-colored-glasses firmly in place, there are so many happy memories just waiting to be made.

...so many lists to make...

I used to just smile at my family when they made fun of me as I happily continued my quest for fitting the most possible visits and stops into our limited itinerary. Recently, however, I’ve discovered that I’m not alone in enjoying this travel planning process.

Magazines and newspapers have reported the results of a variety of studies researching “happiness.” One consistent finding is that the act of planning a holiday boosts “happiness” for up to eight weeks. These same studies found little correlation between having taken a vacation and happiness levels. (See, for example this article from the NY Times )

Now I have something more to smile about. My family might laugh at me and wish I would just wait and enjoy the vacation. But it turns out I really am the one who benefits most from the holiday. I’m the one that actually gains the happiness…all by my “crazy” process of planning.

I can’t wait for our trip back east to celebrate Thanksgiving with extended family. And in the meantime, you will find me happily looking forward to the vacation: checking that itinerary one more time, looking at the book-marked websites one more time, gathering all the happiness I possibly can from this one simple trip!

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