By BPT | March 18, 2014
Do vacations make you more happy or less happy? The answer, according to new research: It depends.
In theory, vacations should equal happiness. After all, taking time off work and time away allows us the opportunity to share experiences and memories with our families and friends. It gives us the chance to look at the world differently: To introduce us to new scenery, different places, people and customs. But according to new research, theory doesn’t always translate to reality when measuring happiness and travel.
“We know traveling the world can ‘cross train’ your brain to help you see more possibilities in life. And based on this new research, we have also found that travel can make people happier, healthier and more productive when they return from a vacation. But not all travel creates happiness,” says Shawn Achor, positive psychology researcher and international best-selling author of “The Happiness Advantage.” “Travel stress can undo the positive effects of travel. Given this fact, there is a very specific formula needed to make the most of a vacation, allowing us to increase our happiness and overall energy.”
According to the new Monograms Road to Happiness Study, four primary ingredients are needed to enjoy a happy travel experience. In fact, 97 percent of travelers report being very or exceptionally happy when their vacation had these components:
1. Minimize stress. When asked about their best trips, only 4 percent of people reported feeling stressed. Conversely, on their worst trips, stress played a big role for nearly 75 percent. Specifically, the biggest vacation stressors were:
* Wasting time figuring things out
* Being unfamiliar with the destination
* Managing transportation
2. Plan ahead. If you want a happy vacation, check spontaneity at the door. “Our new research revealed that the best – and happiest – vacations for 90 percent of people were those planned more than one month in advance,” says Achor. “Planning ahead reduces stress and increases the opportunity to anticipate the getaway. And anticipation offers a great happiness advantage.”
3. Make a local connection. On their best trips, 78 percent of travelers knew a knowledgeable friend in the destination or met with a local guide. “When you meet-up with a local guide or someone you know, you are better able to connect with the destination,” says Achor. “And creating a connection with people and places, cultures and histories, allows us to open our minds and increase our chances of experiencing happiness.”
4. Go far and away. The Road to Happiness Study also revealed that 85 percent of travelers’ best trips over the past five years were in locations outside their home country. “Staycations just don’t bring the same happiness and meaning that travel does,” says Achor. Ninety-four percent of travelers vacationing far from home found more meaning – and more happiness – during their time off than those who stayed home.
“Traveling the world can be an amazing – and even better – a happy experience,” says Achor. “It should be. You just have to travel the right way.”
Monograms – an international travel company and part of the award-winning Globus family of brands – is providing travelers the “happy” solutions they’re looking for. As part of its all-in-one vacation packages, Monograms offers travelers:
* Hotels in the heart of the destination (no bad hotel stress)
* Transportation from the airport to the hotel and between cities (no logistical hassles)
* A half-day of sightseeing in each city to assist with orientation and front-of-the-line, VIP access into the must-see sites and landmarks (no time wasted)
* An on-site local host to act as a personal concierge (local connection and assistance)