Travel and the Art of Anticipation

In fact, the moment we’re in may offer the perfect amount of runway to cultivate anticipation. “The pandemic is forcing us to prioritize our future selves,” Dr. Dunn said. “January Liz feels pretty excited about what Summer Liz is going to be doing.”

Of course, there is a possibility that Summer Liz or even you will have to delay or cancel plans yet again, depending on how the pandemic evolves. But even if you do, you won’t lose the anticipatory pleasure you experience in the meantime.

As Dr. Dunn once put it: That’s “happiness already in the bank.”

Perhaps the most unexpected benefit of planning your own trip nowadays is that it can give great joy to someone else. Wherever you’re considering going, Dr. Dunn suggests calling a parent or grandparent, for instance, and providing them with an opportunity to reminisce about their own travels. Ask them if they have ever been where you wish to go.

Reminiscing, after all, has been shown to give us a happiness boost. We can do this for ourselves by looking at our old travel diaries or photographs. But we can also give the pleasure of reminiscing to others by inviting them to share their memories — something that may be particularly welcome amid the isolation of the pandemic.

“Creating opportunities for others to reminisce is a really kind thing to do,” said Dr. Dunn.

The planning phase is also an opportunity to virtually gather and touch base with the people you’re hoping to travel with someday, be they friends or extended family members. Make your future travel a reason for virtually interacting now, said Dr. Dunn, which is what she and her friends are doing in lieu of going out to dinner.

“I think starting to plan a vacation feels like this active step toward hope,” she said, “and the end of this terrible time that we’ve all been in.”


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