Lonely Planet Writer

5 ways to get the most out of your holidays? Keep them short and sweet one study says

Whilst study upon study shows that taking holidays is good for you, the next step is figuring out how to get the most out of your vacation.

Holidays have been proven to make you healthier and even save lives, like in the case of the New York study carried out by the NCBI that showed that men suffering from heart disease were far less likely to die if they vacationed regularly.


Holidays have also been shown to improve your happiness, make you more productive, and even help with tolerance levels and problem-solving skills. And of course there’s the fact that holidays may simply just let you feel restored and rested.

So, how to make the most out of your holidays so that you feel healthy and rested for longer?

Ida exploring some temples in Southeast Asia. Image by Screengrab via YouTube
Image by Screengrab via YouTube

According to a study carried out in the Netherlands by Jessica de Bloom, from Radbound University, the secret is to take more short holidays.

The study compared two groups of holidaying Dutch workers – one group of  96 vacationers who went on a two week holiday, and another group of 93 vacationers who went on a long weekend break.

The study started from the belief that holidays contribute to ‘recovery from work’ in two ways – passively, through the process of being free from work, and actively, through engagement in non-work activities.

A quiet thoroughfare in Barcelona.
A quiet thoroughfare in Barcelona. Image by Bradley Schroeder / CC BY-SA 2.0

The point of the study was to look at holidaying and ask, “Are the strength and the duration of the vacation (after-) effect different for different vacation durations?”

After studying the two groups at length, De Bloom concluded that the beneficial effects experienced after a two-week or a three-day holiday were remarkably similar. The study conclude by coming up with a five-point guide to making the most of your holidays based on the results.

1. The study suggests booking more than one vacation throughout a work year, because “vacation effects are strong but also short-lived.”

2. Planning things out to avoid disagreements, hassles, and unexpected eventualities in order to reduce stress and be able to unplug from ‘work brain’.


3. Engaging in pleasant activities was proven in both groups that were monitored to “enhance the vacation effect on health and well-being.”


4. Avoid leaving a huge work-load for yourself to tackle upon your return from a holiday. The study suggests this speeds up the “fade out of positive vacation effects”


5. Those annoying co-workers who endlessly post their holiday pics to Instagram might actually be onto something! The study recommends to actively “collect memories that can easily be recalled later to boost and prolong vacation effects.”