photo illustration: Bulat Silvia/iStock

How to Boost Your Wellbeing by Making Travel Plans for the Future

By Robin Schroffel

While 2020 started off great, it quickly became the year of staying home. With cancelled trips crossed off the calendar, many Albertans are missing the freedom and joy of travel. But counterintuitive as it may seem, now is a great time to start dreaming about your next trip.

Why? It’s not just the act of travelling itself that makes us happy: Studies show dreaming and planning are also big-time mood boosters. Dutch researchers found those engaged in arranging travel reported an increase in happiness that was actually greater than the joy they felt after going on the trip itself. An August 2020 study, conducted by positive psychology expert Michelle Gielan, echoed these findings: 97 percent of respondents said trip planning made them happier.

“A sense of purpose is an important aspect of mental health and well-being,” says Nancy Galambos, professor of psychology at the University of Alberta. That’s especially true during a pandemic: “Planning for the future creates a sense of purpose; those who do so are less likely to suffer.

Galambos says it’s still possible to enjoy some of travel’s positive effects. Perusing guidebooks and online travel content are great ways to stay engaged in the world while waiting out COVID-19. Armchair travel is now easier than ever and offers options to suit every taste and destination.

How AMA Travel brought Albertans home when the COVID-19 pandemic was declared

Downloading and reading travel eBooks from is a great way to learn about journeys that interest you. You can explore trips offered by AMA partners, including Disney, Trafalgar and WestJet Vacations, among others.

For some like-you’re-really-there experiences, tune into live webcams. hosts live nature cams, where you can watch a Hawaiian sunset, go on an African safari or dive the reefs of Grand Cayman in real time.

Social media also provides great travel inspiration, which can boost joy-inducing endorphins. Search for dream destinations, bookmark bucket-list photos and connect on Instagram @ama_travel to see our favourites (and share yours!).

AMA partner Viking Cruises does home travel right with live-streams and on-demand content on To tide you over until you can set sail in real life, you can also access curated lists of books, movies and music tailored to each cruise destination.

Galambos underscores the mental health benefits of trip planning. “It’s hard to make immediate plans right now,” she says. “But making a tentative plan for later in 2021 or a year or two down the road will keep you on a healthier path.”

Roam from home with more virtual tourism options

Go around the world in 80 clicks with virtual experiences.

Cape Town: Head up South Africa’s Table Mountain in a cable car with 360-degree views, or see other iconic sights, like waddling African penguins on Boulders Beach and Nelson Mandela’s former prison cell on Robben Island.

Australia: Tourism Australia’s video series uses an innovative audio effect—making it feel like you’re really marvelling at tranquil Lake Eyre, hiking in the Daintree Rainforest and driving along the Great Ocean Road.

London: London’s cultural feast has moved online. Take a cooking class with Borough Market chefs and foodies; watch West End theatre productions; or tour the British Museum and its treasure trove of antiquities.