It may be the dead of winter, but it’s time to set your sights on summer.  Planning your summer holiday months in advance benefits your budget – but also your mind and soul. While Americans on average get about 16 vacation days a year, many people take breaks in four-day increments.  Some experts recommend a 10-day minimum escape from day to day reality.

Here are three big benefits to your well-being that come from starting your summer bookings right now.

Benefit #1: Happiness Way Before You Take Off
Planning and dreaming about your vacation gives you something wonderful to look forward to – and it’s right there for you to see on your calendar. Studies show we get the biggest happiness boost not from the vacation itself, but rather from planning that vacation and living in the anticipation of it. In fact, researchers found that happiness was boosted for eight whole weeks before the actual trip.

Benefit #2: Saving Yourself Money and Money Stress
Planning far in advance gives you the luxury of time to find the best deals now, rather than waste money later trying to make things happen at the last minute. Generally, when you plan ahead, flights are cheaper, and you have more options with mileage plans, especially internationally. Travel experts also recommend specific days of the week to fly, as those days can typically save you loads of money – Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays are less expensive. Money stress can cause anxiety, personal spats, and sleep loss – the opposite of vacation relaxation, right?

Benefit #3: Quality Time and Bonding
Of course, taking a vacation increases our overall well-being, but when you and your significant other or other family members come together to plan the trip, that’s quality time. Sharing ideas about a romantic getaway, fun adventure, or exotic destination you’ve been dreaming about induces smiling, which can boost mood and immunity while lowering blood pressure and releasing the kind of feel-good endorphins that reduce stress and pain.

Although temperatures may be low or snow may be falling, summer – and that well-deserved vacation – will be here before you know it. Time to get planning for good times and good health!