Planning to travel is almost as fun as traveling itself

The ornate Pont Alexandre III deck bridge over the
Seine in Paris. Lauren J. Mapp 
Ever since returning from Iceland in June 2017, I have been wanderlusting about my next adventure. Actually, if I am being totally honest, I started dreaming about my next trip while we were still driving around the Ring Road. 

Through my first year of studies at San Diego State University, I was too busy balancing classes, work and writing for the campus newspaper to plan or take any vacations. Now that I am approaching my senior year of college, it seems about time to start planning to go abroad. 

Recently, we decided to squeeze in a short backpacking trip through Eastern Europe into our winter break. We plan to fly into Budapest before taking the train to Vienna, Prague, Bratislava and Berlin.

One of the great parts about starting to plan for this trip is having another amazing travel experience to look forward to.

A 2010 study published in the Applied Research in the Quality of Life journal found that travelers were often happier while planning their trips than non-vacationers were in their day-to-day life.

Researchers conducted pre-vacation tests on travelers to compare their happiness levels to those of non-travelers. They also conducted post-vacation tests and found that the happiness levels of travelers did not generally differ from non-travelers.

The subjects of the study were 1,530 Dutch individuals, 974 of whom were categorized as "vacationers" versus the 556 "non-vacationers."

Men made up 52 percent of the population of those studied and the mean age of those tested was 50 years old, according to the study. Of the respondents, 32 percent held a graduate or undergraduate degree, 51 percent had a paid job and 21 percent were retired. The mean monthly net income was €2,420 (or $2,789.84 USD at the current exchange rate).

As Winnie So wrote for CNN Travel:

"Travel makes us happy, because it offers us the opportunity to step outside our well-worn, self-constructed, plebeian realities and provides a platform to explore and practice our ideal visions for ourselves – who we might be if we weren't married to our fears and anxieties about safety, security and status."

With less than 12 days worth of vacation time to work with, it might be a pretty frantic trip, but I am looking forward to the craziness of eating my way from city to city. 

Have any tips about backpacking through Eastern Europe? If so, comment below.

Machu Picchu's stone wall ruins in Peru during our visit on Jan. 11, 2016. I was blown away by how removed I felt from the modern world while we were there. Lauren J. Mapp


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