How to Plan Travel Experiences That Will Change Your Life

12 June 2017 by National Bank
Backpacker sitting on rock overlooking sunset

The best trips are those filled with rich experiences that have the power to transform how you see the world. From understanding and learning from new cultures to helping you clearly see how you want to live your life, most of us desire travel experiences that both allow us to recharge and help us understand our lives differently.

Here are 4 ways to plan trips that will change your life.

1.  Happiness Comes From Planning Your Trip

Anyone who has ever hiked to the top of a mountain to explore ruins, or gotten lost in a back alley looking for that restaurant all the locals recommend, knows the pleasure and joy of discovery that travel provides. But did you know that much of the happiness we derive from travel comes before we even leave home?

An international study by found that 72% of us get the greatest emotional lift from planning our trip and 56% of us feel happiest when we’re booking our trip. Travel is such a key part of our happiness that the study found 50% of us see planning and going away on a trip more important than landing a new job, and 49% saw it as more vital to our well-being than our wedding day.

Maximize the thrill you get from travel by planning and booking your trip months ahead of time, so that you have more time to savour the process and get a bigger mood boost.

2.  Seek Out Unique Experiences

In our daily lives, we often run from one thing to the next without pausing to reflect or appreciate the beauty around us. When we travel, the unfamiliarity of a new place helps us slow down and appreciate the moment and that leaves us inspired by new ideas, which we then take home with us.

For some people that might mean seeking out culture-based travel. A bike trip through France’s wine country might be your perfect trip.

For those in search of more peace and serenity, a meditation retreat in India might be just what you need. Or you can do what celebrities like Reese Witherspoon and Cameron Diaz do and go to a yoga retreat in beautiful Tulum, Mexico.

If you’re someone who is awed by the beauty of nature, you might want to embark on an adventure. Explore Patagonia’s mountains and glaciers, or stay at a floating lodge on the Amazon River.

When designing your transformative travel experience, think about the things that make you feel alive and then find a way to build your trip around them.

3.  Take a Gap Year

If you’ve dreamed all your life of traveling the world why not do it now rather than waiting until you retire? Talk to your employer to see if you can take a six-month or year-long sabbatical in order to travel. Or do something that more people are doing these days – take a gap year.

Extended breaks aren’t just great opportunities to live for months at a time in places you’ve otherwise only dreamed of, they’re also invaluable chances to pause and reassess mid-career. Having the space to think, dream, and just be away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life might renew an old career passion or reignite your spark for what you’ve been doing all along.

4.  Take More Frequent Smaller Trips

We sometimes get caught up saving money and vacation time for a big trip and put off shorter vacations. But what if you could do both? You might be saving up for a big trip to Costa Rica next year or for a gap year in a few years’ time, but why not fly to New York or Vancouver for a few days if you find an amazing deal? There are lots of websites that offer cheap last minute tickets such as, and You should also always say yes when someone suggests a spontaneous weekend trip, you never know what you might find when you explore a new place, or how it will help change you and define who you are.

5. Saving for Travel is Just as Important as Saving for Retirement

There’s a reason why we all drool over our friends’ amazing vacation pictures on Instagram - we long to explore and have adventures of our own, but, too often, we get caught up in doing the responsible things we’ve been told we should do rather than the things that light us up. But we can be responsible and allow ourselves the freedom to enjoy life and be spontaneous. 

 Travel can be critical to our well-being and if we neglect opportunities to refresh and recharge, we can get burned out. That’s why it’s just as important to put aside money every month towards your next trip as it is to save for your future. Life is short – live it with a never-ending sense of adventure and make it count.

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