Happiness is ... looking forward to your vacation

February 18, 2010

It takes more than a vacation to make people happy. Indeed, vacationers tend to be happier than non-vacationers in the lead up to their break, but once they are back, there is very little difference between the two groups' levels of happiness. These findings¹ by Jeroen Nawijn from Erasmus University in Rotterdam and NHTV Breda University of Applied Sciences and his team are published online in Springer's journal Applied Research in Quality of Life.

Research to date suggests that vacations are associated with a number of . Jeroen Nawijn's study sets out to answer four questions. Firstly, are vacationers happier than non-vacationers? Secondly, does a trip boost happiness? Thirdly, if a trip does boost happiness, how long does this effect last? And lastly, what are the roles of length of time away and ?

The author assessed how vacations impact happiness among 1,530 Dutch adults, 974 of whom took a vacation during the study period. In particular, Nawijn looked at differences in happiness levels between vacationers and those not going on vacation, as well as whether a trip away boosts post-trip happiness.

Jeroen Nawijn found that those planning a vacation were happier than those not going away, and suggests that this may be due to their of the break. Following a trip, there was no difference between vacationers' and non-vacationers' happiness, unless the time off was very relaxing, in which case the slightly increased happiness was particularly noticeable in the first two weeks back. The effect wore off completely after eight weeks.

The author explains that it is not surprising that trips do not have a prolonged effect on happiness, since most vacationers return to work or other daily tasks and therefore fall straight back into their normal routine fairly quickly.

Jeroen Nawijn concludes by looking at possible implications from three points of view. From an individual point of view, he suggests that people are likely to derive more happiness from two or more short breaks spread throughout the year, rather than having just a single longer vacation once a year. From a policy perspective, in order for families to be able to stagger their trips throughout the year, the school system would need to become more flexible. And lastly, from a managerial point of view, the author would advise tourism managers to provide vacation products which are as stress-free as possible.

More information: Nawijn J, Marchand MA, Veenhoven R, Vingerhoets AJ (2010). Vacationers happier, but most not happier after a holiday. Applied Research in Quality of Life. DOI:10.1007/s11482-009-9091-9

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Abusive avatars help schizophrenics fight 'voices': study

November 24, 2017
"You're rubbish. You're rubbish. You're a waste of space." The computer avatar pulls no punches as it lays into the young woman, a schizophrenia sufferer, facing the screen.

Ten-month-old infants determine the value of a goal from how hard someone works to achieve it

November 23, 2017
Babies as young as 10 months can assess how much someone values a particular goal by observing how hard they are willing to work to achieve it, according to a new study from MIT and Harvard University.

Stress in pregnancy linked to changes in infant's nervous system, less smiling, less resilience

November 23, 2017
Maternal stress during the second trimester of pregnancy may influence the nervous system of the developing child, both before and after birth, and may have subtle effects on temperament, resulting in less smiling and engagement, ...

Domestic violence turns women off masculine men

November 23, 2017
Women who are afraid of violence within partnerships prefer more feminine men, according to new research carried out by scientists at the University of St Andrews.

Study finds infection and schizophrenia symptom link

November 22, 2017
If a mother's immune system is activated by infection during pregnancy, it could result in critical cognitive deficits linked to schizophrenia in her offspring, a University of Otago study has revealed.

Schizophrenia drug development may be 'de-risked' with new research tool

November 22, 2017
Researchers at Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) and the New York State Psychiatric Institute (NYSPI) have identified biomarkers that can aid in the development of better treatments for schizophrenia.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.