Have you ever felt worse after your vacation? There may be a reason for that according to Shawn Acher a psychology researcher and international bestselling author of The Happiness Advantage. He just unveiled the results from a new study. This 34-item survey of 414 world travelers examines the connection between travel and happiness, and the effect of travel upon stress and energy. More specifically, the new research sheds light on what, scientifically speaking, is the best way to achieve happiness before, during and after a vacation.
“We knew traveling the world can ‘cross train’ your brain to help you see more possibilities in life. But, based on this new research, we have found that travel can also make people happier, healthier and more productive when they return from a vacation. But not all travel creates happiness,” said Achor. “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. And having a boost in energy after vacation is a desired result.”
According to the Road to Happiness Study, there are four (4) primary ingredients needed to enjoy a happy travel experience. In fact, 97 percent (97%) of travelers report being very or exceptionally happy when their vacation had these components.
Based on survey results, to create the best travel experience, one must:
- Minimize stress. When asked about their best trips, only 4 percent (4%) of people reported feeling stressed. Conversely, on their worst trips, stress played a big role for more than 60 percent of people. Specifically, the biggest vacation stressors were:
- Wasting time figuring things out (28%)
- Being unfamiliar with the destination (25%)
- Managing transportation (21%)
- Plan ahead. If you want a happy vacation, check spontaneity at the door. According to Achor, “Our new research revealed that the best – and happiest – vacations for 90 percent (90%) of people were those planned more than one (1) month in advance. Planning ahead reduces stress and increases the opportunity to anticipate the getaway. And anticipation offers a great happiness advantage.”
- Make a local connection. On their best trips, 78 percent (78%) 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. And creating a connection with people and places, cultures and histories, allows us to open our minds and increase our chances of experiencing happiness,” said Achor.
- Go far & away. The Road to Happiness Study with Shawn Achor also revealed that 85 percent (85%) of travelers’ best trips over the past five years were in locations outside their home country. This new research mirrors a recent Twitter study that showed that the happiness levels of tweets increased the farther the post was geo-tagged from home.
According to Achor, “Travel requires getting up off the couch, but it’s worth it and you can do it on a budget. Staycations just don’t bring the same happiness and meaning that travel does. 94% of travelers found vacationing far from home found more meaning – and more happiness – during their time off than those who stayed home.”
So how does this work? Well according to the study when travelers vacation the right way, adopting the above ingredients, 93 percent (93%) of them enjoyed more energy after returning from their trip: Something Achor refers to as a “post-vacation glow.” Conversely, 71 percent (71%) of people returned to work with less energy after a bad or stressful trip.
“Traveling the world can be an amazing – and even better – a happy experience! It should be. You just have to know how to do it right,” said Achor.