How frequent travel could boost happiness

·2-min read
Regular travel, even 200 km from home, could have a positive effect on happiness.

Taking a break from the routine, exploring the world, discovering new cultures … these experiences may have been in short supply in recent months, but, according to a study carried out by researchers in the US, they could help make us happier in our day-to-day lives. More precisely, regularly traveling at least 120 kilometers away from home could have a lasting positive effect on well-being.

Researchers at the School of Hospitality Business Management at Washington State University set out to study the sustained benefits of travel and tourism experiences over the course of a year. They surveyed some 500 participants about the importance of travel in their lives, how much time they spent planning trips, and how many trips they took per year. Participants were also asked about their general life satisfaction. Just over half of the people surveyed reported going on more than four leisure trips per year (excluding business trips) and just 7% of them did not take any vacations.

Published in the journal, Tourism Analysis, the study reveals that regular travel can be beneficial to well-being, as people who took several trips in one year reported greater satisfaction with their lives. And there's no need to jet off to far-flung destinations to feel the benefit, since the researchers state that taking a break at least 120 kilometers from home can be enough for a happiness boost.

More precisely, the research shows that those who pay greater attention to tourism-related information and frequently talk about their travel plans with friends are more likely to go on regular vacations than people who aren't constantly thinking about their next getaway. Moreover, study participants who reported regularly traveling at least 120 kilometers away from their home reported being happier (by around 7%) than those who travel rarely or not at all.

"While things like work, family life and friends play a bigger role in overall reports of well-being, the accumulation of travel experiences does appear to have a small yet noticeable effect on self-reported life satisfaction. It really illustrates the importance of being able to get out of your routine and experience new things," explains Dr Chun-Chu (Bamboo) Chen, the study's lead author.

These findings could fuel the desires of tourists keen to get back into travel after 2020's various restrictions, while also offering food for thought for the tourism industry, especially when the time comes for businesses to get back into the game when the pandemic ends.