Singaporeans spend a lot of money on overseas holidays. Well, there’s no other way to escape the annual haze and now, the Zika virus.
We turn to overseas trips during public holidays to escape nosey relatives during Chinese New Year and to update our Instagram accounts while taking as few days of annual leave as possible.
So it’s no surprise we’re some of the world’s most frequent travellers, especially since driving over to JB to pump cheap petrol is technically considered international travel.
But in our haste to book our tickets so we won’t be stuck spending another Chinese New Year/National Day/Christmas long weekend in crowded Singapore shopping malls, we often fail to savour the anticipation of a holiday, and we rush through our vacations in a frenzy of shopping and eating so that when it’s over we feel even more exhausted than before we left.
Here are three psychological tricks that can help you get maximum pleasure out of a holiday, no matter how short, even if it’s just a quick weekend getaway to Malaysia or Indonesia.
Read like crazy before your trip, but don’t overplan
When psychologists say that planning for your trip beforehand helps to heighten that oh-so-satisfying feeling of anticipation in the lead-up to the big day, they don’t mean you need to draw up a timetable scheduling every single thing you’ll do there, from bedtime to toilet breaks.
What they really mean is that you should do stuff that makes you think about your trip more, because thinking about an upcoming holiday makes you happy.
That means reading up on your destination, and finding out about the history and culture behind the place you’re visiting, assuming that’s your thing and you’re not just there for the shopping. Sometimes I try to watch movies and read fiction set in the area, but whatever floats your boat.
On the other hand, try to avoid overplanning. If your entire trip progresses like a well-oiled tour bus, you’re going to lose a lot of the pleasure of simply living in the moment and enjoying what’s in the here and now. Instead, you’ll be checking your schedule and fretting over why you can’t find that restaurant you bookmarked, or bugging your travel companions to get out of the museum because it’s time to rush to some monument.
Remember that preparation can save you money
While I’m not a big fan of doing much pre-trip planning at all, be aware that a bit of preliminary research can save you money.
If you’re on a budget, one thing you should definitely check is the cheapest way to get to your destination from the airport. Everyone knows you can just hop into a taxi, but that’s usually the most expensive way.
Some airports operate inexpensive shuttle buses to the city centre alongside the usual train or subway services. Even in inexpensive destinations like Thailand, it pays to do research, as there are often booths where you can book taxis or shuttle buses more cheaply than following the touts at the airport exit.
If you are a serious diner, you might want to check Groupon for restaurant deals in your destination, or at least do a bit of preliminary research on expensive restaurants you plan to visit, so you don’t end up with a dud or get ripped off.
Reach out to locals
Have you ever gone on holiday with family or friends and then realised when you got back to Singapore that you couldn’t remember much about your trip, except for the fact that you were with your travel companions all the time?
Having vivid memories of your destination and your travel experiences extends your satisfaction after you get back home. If you have intense memories of the place you visited, you’re likely to bask in the afterglow for a longer time.
You can make your travel experience a lot more immersive by reaching out to locals or other travellers, rather than being stuck in a little bubble containing just you and your travel companions. That’s because meeting new people, whether other travellers or locals, helps you create unique memories intimately linked to your travel destination.
On the other hand, your travel companions are people who remind you of home—not that that’s a bad thing, but focusing all your attention on them will just mean that you’ll come back to Singapore feeling like you spent your trip hanging out right here at home.
How do you amplify the excitement of your overseas trips? Tell us in the comments!