Looking back on my travels over the years I can safely say that my answer to this question is an obvious and massive YES. I’ve met new amazing people, experienced incredible things and grown a lot as a person. But I suddenly got to thinking, I wonder why it has such a big impact… Why is it that everyone is so positive about travelling and the whole experience? I could list a bunch more reasons personally, but instead I thought I’d share some interesting research I stumbled across.
Research conducted by a Dr. Thomas Gilovich, a psychology professor at Cornell University, concludes that one of the main things that takes away from happiness is adaptation. The new things we buy only make us happy for a while, after which we adapt to them and they become regular normal things. Have you ever experienced the excitement of getting the new latest tech for example, before the excitement quickly fades when something better emerges on the market? Companies such as Apple use this to their advantage releasing new models just when we’ve adapted to the old ones, constantly topping us up on the high from buying something new.
In contrast this research actually states that you’ll be more happy spending money on experiences, like doing activities, learning skills or travelling for example. The main indicator of this was that over time, satisfaction with purchased items went down, but satisfaction with money spent on experiences went up. This makes complete sense, because experiences are often social and consumed with other people, they make up part of our identity and the stories we tell. For example you’re much more likely to bond with someone having for example, both bungee jumped, or visited the same place, than having bought the same TV or brand of watch.
So in conclusion (although yes I realise it’s one bit of research, carried out by one academic), if science says it makes us happier, we should take notice right?
If you want to check out the full article with some more great points on the subject it’s linked here.