No matter what your job is, when you work hard all year long, it’s comforting to know you have a holiday coming up. You plan exciting things for it and your days off usually create happy memories, but sometimes they can be disappointing.

If you work in the US, you have even more reasons to make each day enjoyable because your paid leave is probably limited. Workers in France, Germany, Spain, and the UK receive more than 30 days of vacation time, while you have 10 days on average.

The pandemic also added new difficulties too, with holidays cancelled, postponed, or not booked at all.

So, the big question is how can you increase your chances of having a lovely time away? We’ve broken it down into steps you can take before, during and after your break to make the most of every stage of your holiday. Try these suggestions to help you get closer to the experiences and memories that you are searching for.

Steps to Take Before Your Holiday

Some studies have found that planning a trip can be just as much fun as taking one.

Savor the anticipation with these strategies by starting to plan early. Your employer decides how many holiday days to grant you, but you can give yourself as much time as you want to plan them. Make it an ongoing process, so you can give yourself a boost whenever you need one.

Research destinations you want to visit. Watch travel videos and read magazines. Talk with others about their favorite spots. Study different cultures and languages. Find out what interests and inspires you.

Choose your companions wisely. If you’re travelling with family and friends, think about how you’ll get along with sharing more time together. If you want to make new friends, join a group that shares your interests.

Steps to Take During Your Holiday

At home or away, you can make each day more special with some of these tips.

Remember to pace yourself. You may want to try everything but you need to be realistic about your schedule and not over plan. Appreciating a slice of Paris beats trying to rush through a long checklist of museums and landmarks.

Do what you can to switch off from work. Leave your job behind to the greatest extent possible. Do as much as you can ahead of time. Turn on your out-of-office message and let your colleagues know that you’re available for urgent matters only.

Try new things. Use your holiday to sample fresh experiences. Depending on your comfort level, that could mean cage diving with sharks or just dining at local restaurants.

Indulge in yourself and schedule time for doing things you love. Attend concerts and art exhibits. Go sailing or hiking.

Take notes of your experiences. Clicking photos with your phone is easy, but writing about your experiences could make them more meaningful. Jot your thoughts down during meals or before bed.

Create a grand finale to finish off your holiday. Arrange something special for your last day or evening. Those will probably be the moments that you’ll remember most.

Steps to Take After Your Holiday

Do you sometimes feel down when you return home? Try some of our techniques to try and hang onto your happy feelings.

Allow yourself time to rest up and unwind before going back to the office and tackling household chores. Maybe you can take an extra day off or spend a quiet evening ordering takeout and watching a funny movie.

Set yourself some new goals. Now that you’re feeling refreshed, find an exciting project to dive into. Start a vegetable garden or register for a course online perhaps.

Address any underlying issues that are playing on your mind. Holidays are wonderful, but you’ll need to take further action if you want to make major changes in your life. That could include talking with a therapist or exercising regularly.

Start planning some more trips. You will give yourself something to look forward to and as we said above, the planning can be just as much fun as the holiday itself.

Holidays are essential for your mental and physical health. Take the time off and use it well, so you’ll stay cheerful, productive and in a positive frame of mind.