Studies have shown that money can buy happiness, but only up to a point. At that point, money spent on things begins to show diminishing returns. Things need to be replaced, or upgraded. They wear out. We “adapt” to our things as we get used to having them around, and over time they bring us less joy than they did when newly purchased or acquired.
Experiences, on the other hand, have been shown to bring increasing happiness over time. We don’t become sick of our memories; instead, the longer we look back at them the fonder we typically become, and the happier they make us. Even bad travel experiences eventually get turned around – over time we usually come to love to share them with others, or even brag or laugh about them. We carry our travel stories, good or bad, like badges of honor.
Travel is all about experience.
But beyond just creating memories, “Happiness Expert” Britt Reints explains that travel experiences in particular make us happier because they also:
- Give us sense of accomplishment. Travel, especially travel in a foreign country, gives us a real sense of success. Finding a restaurant in a strange city, figuring out public transportation, getting ourselves from Point A to Point B by following a map helps us feel that we can solve any problem. All travel stories are stories of personal success, which leads to greater happiness.
- Help us learn more about ourselves. Travel give us opportunities to know ourselves better, to discover our strengths and our weaknesses, and change if necessary. Travel also can help us discover new passions or indulge in the ones we already know.
- Make us more interesting. Travel experiences allow us to bring more to relationships with others, and help deepen our relationships with others. Travel makes us more interesting. And, being interesting attracts more interesting people into our own lives.
- Connect us more to others. Travel let us realize how much the same we are than different from others in the world, or even our own country. Everyone in the world shares the emotions of love, joy, hope, and fear of change. As Maya Angelou wrote in her beautiful poem “The Human Family,” We are more alike, my friends, than we are unalike.
- Give us a sense of perspective. Travel and experiencing different ways of life and ways of doing things has a way of helping us appreciate what is important in our own lives. We become more appreciative of what we do have, and realize how tiny our little piece of the world is in relation to the grand scheme of things. We are very small compared to the size of the world, and compared to others our problems are usually pretty small as well.
- Help us live our life to the fullest: While travel itself will not lengthen our physical lives, it can make our lives richer, fuller and happier. Travel keeps stagnation at bay, and allow us to use the time we have to live, and to experience rather than just react.
Joy. Surprise. Interaction. Adaptation. Accomplishment. Whether it’s across the state, across the country, or to other lands, travel experiences give us all of these things and more. Travel makes us smarter, and it makes us happier, not just for the short term, but far into the future as well.