Why Do We Feel So Much Happier When We’re Travelling?

Hands up if you know anyone who hates holidays? We notice (yes, through the screen) that no one raised their hands, and that’s because of the simple formula that travel = happiness. And it turns out there’s even a scientific explanation why…

Because of the way humans tick, we’re always dying to know WHY something happens, and the brains at Universities around the world are no different, meaning that a number of studies have been done into the relationship between vacations and that feeling of indescribable joy. Are we all just chuffed to not be at work? To be able to drink sangria at sunset in Spain? To frolic on the ski fields with our pals? Yes to all the above, but the underlying reason that the happiness that comes from travel is extra special, is because it lasts a looooooong time!

You’re probably scratching your head right now wondering how that makes a lick of sense when your vacay might only last two weeks, but a study done by Cornell University found that spending money on experiences, like travel, led to a more lasting happiness than money spent on physical objects such as a car or those cool embroidered boots you saw on ASOS that are actually on sale right now… Sorry where were we?

The study found that while we certainly get caught up in the moment and feel joy when buying material goods, it was transient and quick to fade, while travel on the other hand allowed happiness to last longer.

Why is this? Well it’s as simple as the fact that you get used to those boots or the car. You ‘adapt’ to physical objects and basically experience a constant depreciation of happiness towards them as they become more familiar.

“One of the enemies of happiness is adaptation. We buy things to make us happy, and we succeed. But only for a while. New things are exciting to us at first, but then we adapt to them.” - Dr. Thomas Gilovich, Cornell University

However, one-off and unique experiences like hiking Machu Picchu, seeing the Eiffel Tower for the first time or eating a seafood dinner on the deck of a boat in Croatia, are moments that can be remembered and cherished. Adding to that was the fact that every time you ‘visit’ a happy memory it makes it stronger in your mind, leading to the theory that your happiness over your travel experiences will only INCREASE over time.

“We consume experiences directly with other people. And after they’re gone, they’re part of the stories that we tell to one another.” - Dr. Thomas Gilovich, Cornell University

Talk about a win, right? We know millennials cop a lot of flack, but other cool science-y studies have found that as a generation they tend to value experiences over high-end goods, meaning they’re clearly onto something when it comes to happiness!

Do you agree that travel is worth more in the happiness bank than the latest gadget? Let us know by voting below 👇

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