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5 Ways Planning a Luxury Vacation Can Impact Your Mental Health

Exclusive Resorts CEO James Henderson celebrates travel’s unique serotonin boost. 

The last time I wrote about the benefits of planning a vacation, it was during the height of the pandemic. As I reflect on those times, I’m beyond grateful the tide has shifted — not only are we anticipating luxury escapes, but many of us are traveling often.

While the travel industry has certainly changed since 2020 — with luxury private villa and home vacations seeing peak demand — one aspect of planning a vacation has remained consistent: the joy and excitement felt when anticipating that next big trip. In fact, The New York Times has coined 2022 as the “go-big” year. While we’ve rediscovered closer-to-home vacations and have reimagined the great American road trip, according to the Times, “Experts say that travelers are ready to ‘go big’ in 2022 with bucket-list trips to far-flung destinations, after nearly two years of stagnation.” 

And not only is the excitement of discovery enjoyable but planning a vacation can elevate mental health. One of my friends and colleagues, Tony Schwartz, founder of The Energy Project, believes in the benefits of vacationing so much that he plans a two-month, unplugged sabbatical every year.  

“It’s not just that vacation is important, but the length of vacation,” Schwartz has told Exclusive Resorts in an issue of CURATED magazine. “Vacations are a time to truly renew and refuel, and equally, to step back and take a longer-term, more reflective perspective on the challenges you’re facing. I use August to simply hang out with my wife, two children, and four grandchildren. I work out and play tennis, and sit with an old-fashioned pen and a notebook, which I fill for a month with all my thoughts about the year ahead.”    

What’s more, clinical psychologists have long stated — with studies such as a 2014 Cornell study to back them up — that most people gain a better life perspective and are further motivated to achieve goals after taking a trip. With summer on the horizon, many of us are planning sun-filled days and quality time with family and friends. The impact that vacationing can have on mental health is profound, and as we celebrate mental health awareness this month, here are 5 important ways planning a luxury vacation can give you a serious serotonin boost.  

Yoga and meditation are elevated when on vacation
Exploring the enchanting Greek coastline

1. Planning a Trip Versus Material Purchases. In 2010, a group of scientists examined the happiness levels between individuals planning a vacation and those not going on holiday. The conclusion? Trip-goers feel a higher degree of pre-trip happiness compared to non-vacationers. Why? The anticipation factor. You know the feeling. That period of expectation right before your vacation — a beach escape to the BVIs or a road trip up the California coast — that fills you with joy. In fact, according to the Cornell University study, even the simple act of thinking about these experiences triggers powerful positive emotions that far outweigh the purchase of a material item. 

2. The Power of Connection. A positive outcome of forced social distancing and quarantining? Proof that humans are social and share an innate need to be together. After the past few years of spending more time alone than ever, now is the time to reconnect with what matters most. The Club purposefully curates vacations that allow for both large group gatherings and privacy. So go ahead. Plan that milestone birthday or special anniversary trip. It’s been proven that people get more satisfaction and mental health boosts from experiential purchases.  

3. Sweet Dreams. Arianna Huffington believes in sleep so much she dedicated an entire book to it, titled The Sleep Revolution. In it she explains that “Why Am I So Tired” has become one of the most Googled searches ever — proof that while the modern age has witnessed incredible technological advances, we are seriously burnt out. Vacationing allows us to truly rest and recharge. When vacationing with Exclusive Resorts versus trying to pack large families into several small hotel rooms, quality sleep is nearly guaranteed.  

4. Wellness Travel & Positive Perspective. In the aforementioned Huffington book, the power of perspective is also celebrated. “By helping us keep the world in perspective, sleep gives us a chance to refocus on the essence of who we are,” Huffington writes. “And in that place of connection, it is easier for the fears and concerns of the world to drop away.” Plus, wellness retreats aren’t deemed just a luxury anymore. They are integral to vitality. Sure, it’s cliché, but the last few years have also proven health is indeed true wealth. This includes mental health, too. As a result, wellness retreats such as staying at our Club villas at Miraval in Tucson are critical to overall wellbeing.  

5. It’s FUN! Think about it. Why are kids typically so happy? Because of the power of play and their ability to remain in the present moment. The same idea can be applied to adults and vacations. As we age, and our responsibilities increase, it’s also important to simply have fun. And if there’s one aspect to vacationing that everyone cherishes, it’s the fun had while meeting fellow travelers over an amazing wine dinner or while on safari. One of my planned “go-big” vacations this year will be to South Africa. Fun factor? Guaranteed!