The sad thing about vacations is that they end. However much fun you’re having at the beach or carving down a ski mountain or at your sustainable carbon-neutral ecolodge in the rainforest, the specter of your trip home and the resumption of normal day-to-day annoyances is always right there.
And as Jennifer Senior pointed out last year, there is indeed a fair amount of research showing that shortly after you return from a vacation, your happiness level bounces back to where it was beforehand. Senior quoted psychologist and vacation researcher Jessica de Bloom, who along with some colleagues wrote in one paper that “Most vacations seem to have strong, but rather short-lived effects.”
But that doesn’t mean one should despair or cancel that plane ticket. Happiness research and consumer psychology have advanced to the point where there are some clear recommendations that can help you maximize the amount of happiness you get from your vacation — even if that peak vacation high is inevitably going to dissipate.