Your Vacation Will Feel Longer If You Don’t Plan It to Death

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Photo: Doug Menuez/Getty Images

One truly bad thing about vacations: Eventually, they end. Recently, Quartz writer Jenni Avins interviewed psychologist and time-perception expert Marc Wittmann about this unfortunate truth, and Wittmann provided some useful advice for slowing down the precious few hours you have away from work. For one, he advises, rein in your Type A tendencies, and resist the urge to over-plan your travels.

Time is a complicated phenomenon, and this is grossly simplifying things, but the gist here is this: Anything that takes you out of the moment will make the minutes feel like they’re passing more quickly. Pre-planning every last moment of your trip is nice, in a way, because it lets you go on autopilot; you don’t have to make a decision about what to do on the second afternoon of your trip, because you already know you’ve booked a harbor cruise (or whatever).

Leaving room for spontaneity, on the other hand, means you have to think each moment through. Should you go for a walk, or have another beer? These are the important decisions that plant you firmly in the here and the now, and that makes for a trip that seems to last just a little bit longer. Alas, when on vacation, time works in the opposite way that it seems to on Tuesdays.