We go on vacations to de-stress, right? Worrying about schedules, packing, travelling, coming back to an inbox full of emails - yeah, that sounds stress-free. Somehow, we can find stress in the happiest of places.

There's a lot of interesting research about how vacations affect stress levels. Most interestingly, how it's not the vacation itself that's the de-stressor - it's actually the time leading up to the vacation where people are the happiest. Theoretically, with what the research says, it would make more sense to just plan a vacation and not go on one. Obviously that's no fun, so what can we do to increase our "happiness factor"?

Finding vacation happiness begins the moment you book your trip. It was December when I booked my trip to Costa Rica for April. Even though it was 4 months away I made the decision to make it completely stress-free and to use my social media skills to maximize my happiness. Here's a list of the things I did:

1. Research something new about Costa Rica every day.

I Googled/Twitter Searched/Facebooked the words "Costa Rica" and clicked on each link, one by one. Even if the link wasn't helpful or interesting, setting aside 5 minutes of dreaming time was enough to put the biggest smile on my face. My brain even retained some of the information, which proved to be useful.

2. Explore DIY projects

Beachwear is SO expensive! But there's a great blog, GoldfishKiss, that's all about beach life with so many tips and tricks. I learned how to make pants out of a pareo, instead of buying brand new bikinis I just fancied up the ones I owned and I discovered a simple way to give yourself a great beach pedicure. In the end, I saved a ton of money, had fun, and looked really stylish while at the beach.

3.  Learn key words in Spanish

When you're visiting a new place, it's not only useful to learn some of the language; it's a sign of respect. Take a moment to learn some key phrases and practice them. (Even if it's just "Buenos dias" or "¿Habla Usted inglés?"). A Google search will bring up tons of websites and Google Translate is also helpful because it actually says the words for you so that you know how they're supposed to sound.

4. Create a Pinterest board of beautiful photos

I created a board and pinned to my heart's content. So simple, so happy.

5. Reach out to businesses in the area

I was interested in surfing while I was in Cost Rica so I contacted a few surf schools in the area - so many are on Facebook and Twitter so it was really easy to connect. They were extremely knowledgeable about the area and offered me great advice on must-visit beaches (as well as the ones to avoid). 

It doesn't stop when you get home

Coming home can be even more stressful than leaving. But even though it's nearly 3 weeks after my trip, I'm still experiencing vacation happiness. Here are a few more tips on what you can do when you get home so that the happiness doesn't stop when your vacation does:

1. Post pictures - SLOWLY

Instead of posting all of my Costa Rica photos at once, I post them one at a time, every few days - along with an interesting story. It's a memory that brings me happiness and it's also more engaging to your audience. Instead of your friends and family swiftly clicking through all of your photos at once, they have the opportunity to savor each moment you share and to learn something about you and your trip. And they're more likely to engage with your photo, which, of course, will increase your happiness factor.

2. Post reviews

Obviously this is only stress free if you have good reviews to post, but again, it will help you relive positive memories by sharing your experiences on Trip Advisor or on the company's Facebook page (Better yet, write a post for GoGirlfriend!). It also rewards the good service you had from a local business and it's a bonus to others who are travelling, as they'll benefit from your experience.

3. Do laundry

Okay, this one is not related to social media at all but for me, getting the laundry out of the way was a huge de-stressor. Since we didn't pack too much and there were only two of us, it was easy to get through. But if I had a family of 4, I'd pay a little extra to have someone else do it for me - stress-free.

There are endless opportunities and ideas you can come up with to ensure that your vacation is a happy and stress-free experience. But the most important thing to remember is that feeling stressed is a mindset that you have the power to change. Feel grateful that you're fortunate enough to be able to go on vacation and you'll have no problems being happy.

Read the full story here!

Join the conversation