Each year you have a certain amount of days you can get away. Should you take them all at once and indulge in a lavish vacation blowout? Should you spread them out into little mini-breaks, or even use them to give yourself lots and lots of long weekends?
It's a question every professional must answer, and while the nature of your work, the size of your budget, and the preferences of your family all play a role in deciding what sort of holiday to take, science also has something to say on the issue. Studies have identified an ideal length of time to get away to maximize the relaxation bang you get for your vacation buck.
Eight days to peak vacation joy.
The research out of a Finnish university followed 54 holidaymakers throughout the duration of their getaways, measuring the highs and lows of their happiness and satisfaction as their vacations progressed. The researchers discovered that vacation-related joy didn't climb ever upward as tourists' tans deepened and work receded to a distant memory. In contrast, happiness peaked after eight days away.
"It could be that eight days is the ideal to fully gain the benefits of a holiday," Jessica de Bloom, a member of the research team, told The Wall Street Journal.
The idea that a little more than a week is the perfect vacation length sits well with other seasoned vacationers. "Eight days. Seems about right. You take off on a Friday after work, maybe sneak out a little early. You then have Saturday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday," HR expert Tim Sackett wrote, commenting on the study on his blog.
"That first day never seems like a vacation as you get settled in and try to unwind and that last Saturday you need to start packing and getting stuff together because you leave on Sunday. That final Sunday might as well be a work day because you definitely aren't on vacation any longer!" he added, explaining why the week-and-a-bit duration appealed to him.
The science of the perfect getaway.
It's a finding worth noting if you're planning a last-minute summer getaway. Travel is expensive, after all (and, if you have kids, not exactly stress free), so there's no point prolonging a trip if the extra time and money spent isn't going to add to your happiness or relaxation levels. But this study isn't the only scientific insight available on how to take the best possible vacation. Happiness experts have plenty of other tips to offer on how to get the most joy out of your vacation, while other research shows how to squeeze every last drop of enjoyment out of your holiday.
How long is the ideal vacation in your opinion?