Experience a white Christmas. Picture: Supplied.

There’s no doubt that the back-to-work blues are real but doctors and professors the world over agree that travel can, and does, make us happier.

“A study published in the Journal Applied Research Quality of Life found that planning a trip can make you happier than actually heading off on holiday,” says Teresa Richardson, Managing Director of The Travel Corporation in South Africa. “By booking early, not only will you get the best deals and pricing, but you get to enjoy that pre-holiday burst of endorphins for longer.”

Richardson shares some destinations to visit:

Spain

Take a selfie in Spain. Picture: Supplied.


You only need to witness the swirling colours of the flamenco dancer’s skirt or sip on your first sangria to realise that Spain is a sultry mix of all the colours of the rainbow capped by a warm, blue Mediterranean sky.

Wander through the honey-hued Alhambra Palace in Granada, snap selfies in front of Gaudi’s whimsical gift to Barcelona, La Sagrada Familia, and lick the chocolatey goodness of churros off your fingers while relaxing in Buen Retiro Park, once a royal garden and today a lush green oasis in the heart of bustling Madrid. From the citrusy freshness of orange zest in Valencia to the salty air of the seaside Torremolinos, embrace la buena vida (the good life in Spanish).


Ireland

Check-in at the grand Ashford Castle. Picture: Supplied.

The dramatic colours of Ireland, from the vivid green of the landscape to the cloud-painted skies – will help to chase the blues away. “The Irish know how to enjoy life, and with their passion for folklore, song and dance and ample pints of Guinness, you’ll soon join in on the craic,” says Richardson.

Try your hand at hurling, one of the oldest sports in the world, guided by a local player and skip the line at Dublin’s Trinity College, learning about this national treasure and its famous Book of Kells from a university insider. Check-in at the grand Ashford Castle, one of the leading hotels in the world. Richardson maintains: “From the moment you cross over the drawbridge, you’ll get swept up into the romance, but all with the modern conveniences and attractions of Irish castle living.”


Turkish sailing

Sail in Turkey.


With a free e-visa application process and affordable direct flights from South Africa, Turkey is a refreshing delight. Hop on board one of Contiki’s legendary sailing trips for under 35s for eight days of dramatic sunsets and salty swims in the sparkling blue sea. Onboard a traditional Turkish gulet (sailing boat), travellers will make their way from Bodrum to the islands of Orak, Cokertme Bay, Cleopatra Island and Kargili. With plenty of swim stops, leisurely lunches on board, party nights and hours of relaxing, you’ll have no regrets.

Europe

Explore the markets in Europe. Picture: Supplied.


For sun-saturated South Africans, the appeal of a snowy, white Christmas is insatiable. “Tick the cold-climate travel trend by visiting some of Europe’s coolest destinations at their coolest – in winter," says Richardson.

Travellers can also wash down litres of beer in Munich’s beer halls, stuff themselves with Swiss delights at a traditional dinner in Lauterbrunnen and explore Paris at night by bicycle or sail down the romantic Seine. "Undoubtedly your highlights will be sitting down to Christmas dinner in the Austrian Alps and ringing in 2020 at a New Year's Eve party in Berlin,” says Richardson.


  • The Travel Corporation is offering Early Payment Discounts of up to 10% on selected Europe and Britain trips in 2019 across some of their most popular brands, such as Trafalgar. Offers valid until January 31, 2019.