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Planning Your Next Vacation Might Be The Productivity Hack No One Talks About The future is uncertain, but even imagining an upcoming trip might be good for you.

By Naveen Dittakavi Edited by Jessica Thomas

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

A funny thing happened at my flight deals travel company Next Vacay last year: Even though people were locked down at home and weren't flying anywhere for vacations, many of them actually renewed their $25/year memberships with us. When we surveyed these customers about their decision to stay, a common response was that the hope of traveling again some day was important enough to them to stay on board and see new flight deals in their inboxes each week.

In a study conducted in 2019 by OnePoll and originally covered by Forbes, Americans shared that they don't travel often – but they would really like to. Some of the statistics were grim: 11% of the 2,000 respondents said they had never left their home state, 54% reported visiting 10 states or fewer, and 40% said they had never left the country.

Interestingly, in this same survey, 76% of people reported that they wanted to travel more, and 60% said they have a list of places they would like to see in their lifetimes. The reason 63% of people gave for why they couldn't travel internationally is a common objection: Price.

Related: 4 Reasons Why Pricing Is the Key to Startup Success

One of the reasons we founded Next Vacay is that we believe both domestic and international travel builds character and helps you grow as a person. But here's another perk you may not have even considered: Simply thinking about travel can also improve your quality of life. Here's what the research has to say on the topic of travel and wellbeing.

Thinking about travel might make you happier

We know that purchasing experiences gives us more pleasure in life than purchasing possessions. But according to research from Cornell University published in 2014, this sense of wellbeing also carries over into the anticipation of upcoming experiences. Whether it be going on a trip, attending an exciting event, or even just brainstorming ideas for date night, your attitude improves for the better when you daydream about what you want to experience someday.

When these positive thoughts flow, cortisol goes down and serotonin goes up. Your ability to think clearly and complete daily tasks really does improve. Here's a productivity hack no one ever talks about: When you put experiences on the calendar that make you want to jump out of bed in the morning, you'll become more efficient and effective the entire day.

Travel in particular has been shown to enhance focus, improve empathy and restore energy. Even if you're not completely sure when your next trip might be, planning out what that trip might look like is a great way to stay inspired. The act of imagining a vacation or other goal can elicit some of the same benefits as actually taking the vacation, particularly when your imagination is vivid and feels real.

Related: Travel Is Complicated Now. Here Are 5 Ways to Stress Less

3 ways travel helps you grow as a person

Interestingly, many of the challenges we experience as adults can be resolved with travel, both real and imagined. Here are three of the most notable benefits.

1. Travel builds resilience with the unknown

When you travel to new places around the country and world, you're forced to embrace the unknown and step outside of your comfort zone. This can help you grow in other areas of your life as well, because as self-sufficient adults we're often forced to confront challenges head-on.

2. Travel forces you to relish the moment

Because vacation has a definite beginning and end, you'll be more likely to savor each moment. For many of us, this might be one of the only times throughout the year that we truly slow down and reflect, and this reflective time is often what helps you be your best in both your career and life. You might need to occasionally remind yourself what slowing down looks and feels like; travel will do that for you.

3. Travel helps you discover who you really are

Have you ever taken a trip that changed the course of your life for the better? You're not alone. Travel can introduce us to new perspectives and ways of life that help us crystallize our values and figure out who we truly want to become. Don't save all your pennies for retirement and wait until then to travel; do it now and you'll shape your future for the better.

Related: 4 Mindfulness Tips to Start Reducing Stress In Your Life Today

The future is uncertain, but that doesn't mean you can't spend time and energy imagining what you want to do in life. In fact, planning your next vacation can help you show up more in your day-to-day life. Put together the vacation itinerary of your dreams, and you'll notice a boost of energy that can help fuel your entrepreneurial pursuits.

Naveen Dittakavi

Founder and CEO, Next Vacay

Naveen Dittakavi is the founder of Next Vacay, a travel service whose proprietary software helps everyday people realize their international travel goals sooner rather than later. A software engineer since 1996, he holds a patent in data retrieval systems.

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