Travel Makes You Happier, According to Science

Travel Makes You Happier, According to Science

The average American worker gives up nearly five days of vacation time each year.

That means that every year, we collectively lost 429 million days of paid time off (PTO).* Let’s look at that again:

429 million days.

That’s 429 million days of missed opportunities for experiences like snorkeling the Great Mesoamerican Reef off of the Riviera Maya, or kayaking beneath Cabo’s Land’s End Arch, or jumping into a waterfall in Jamaica. Heck—it’s 429 million missed opportunities to spend the day with someone you love.

And, according to recent studies, those are precisely the things that make us happy. Having an experience that you can relive and tell stories about for years to come is shown to increase your happiness more over time than purchasing a new item like a phone or TV. And sharing these experiences with family or friends have an even greater effect.

Just check out this excerpt from a recent Fast Company article, quoting Dr. Thomas Gilovich, a professor of psychology at Cornell University:

“Our experiences are a bigger part of ourselves than our material goods,” says Gilovich. “You can really like your material stuff. You can even think that part of your identity is connected to those things, but nonetheless they remain separate from you. In contrast, your experiences really are part of you. We are the sum total of our experiences.”

The good news? There’s still time this year to use your PTO. Plan a getaway—even an extra day or two to make a long weekend trip can have a lasting impact on your happiness and relationships.

*Don’t believe us? Here’s the study.

Lisa Lach

Lisa Lach is a Contributing Writer for Here & Beyond, where she covers vacation trends and in-depth explorations of top destinations. She has a background in content development and social media for travel and tourism brands including Funjet Vacations, Weddings by Funjet and the Funjet Insider. Lisa holds a BA in English with a creative writing emphasis from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She has always had the travel bug and has visited Cancun and the Riviera Maya, Mexico; Samaná and Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic; Rincón and San Juan, Puerto Rico; London, England; Rome, Italy; Santorini, Greece; San Lucas Tolimán, Guatemala; and many U.S. cities.