Adam Dupuis's picture

Vacation Or Possessions? To Be The Happiest, Study Says We Should Spend Our Money On ...

As each year dwindles to a close, I always find myself looking back and saying to myself, "Where the hell did the year go?"  I also ask, where the hell did 'I' go? I am sure I am not the only one thinking about what was done with the previous 12 months.  How exciting was life?  What do we have to show for this last year of living and how will we make next year better?

How I measure the past 365s doesn't vary from year to year, but the results do.  When looking back, there are three places I look at, my bank account, my "passport," and my possessions.   Are you someone that measures your joy with how much stuff you have, how much money you have, or how many experiences you were able to live? 

As you plan on how to experience 2018 and contemplate what to do with that tax return in a couple of months (we hope), maybe we should take a peek at Science Says It’s Totally OK To Spend All Your Money On Travel.

We’ve been telling our parents this for years – now finally there’s some science to back us up.

Psychological research from Cornell University in New York has confirmed that the key to happiness is through experiences rather than things. The two decade study is led by Dr Thomas Gilovich, who says that one of the key underlying differences between our value of experiences and objects is adaptation. “We buy things to make us happy, and we succeed. But only for a while. New things are exciting to us at first, but then we adapt to them.”

Basically, we get used to the things we own, and over time the happiness we derive from items dwindles. On the flip side, happiness that stems from things we’ve done actually goes up as time passes because those experiences become a part of us and shape our identity. (It’s why the baby pink Nintendo DS you relentlessly requested for your 20th birthday now sits buried and forgotten somewhere in a bag beneath your bed, whereas your four-month jaunt through South America is still recalled often and fondly, years later.)

Gilovich suggests that instead of saving for that plasma screen TV, a much sounder path to happiness is through spending your money on experiences like travel, or even outdoor activities, new skills or visiting exhibitions.

“You can really like your material stuff. You can even think that part of your identity is connected to those things, but nonetheless they remain separate from you,” says Gilovich. “In contrast, your experiences really are part of you. We are the sum total of our experiences.”

To summarize, the joy we receive from the possessions we have right in front of us dwindles year after year, while the joy we experience thinking about our past vacations only grows stronger and stronger.  TV or Tel Aviv?  Get the passport ready. That's what we understood.

What side of the fence are you on?  Possessions or experiences? 

I originally wrote this piece as I was visiting my brother in New Orleans and we were preparing to go a Saints / Jaguars game at the Super Dome.  I was there for a total of 12 days, encompassing both Christmas and New Year's.  Did I need the article to push me to the correct side of the fence?  I would say no.  Travel is a very important part of life. I know it makes my life more enjoyable.  Would I have more funds if i did not spend it on a week-long cruise or a great 5 day birthday trip to Seattle / Vancouver?  Of course I would. but travel memories bring me immense joy and help make my life great. 

As I look back on this year's travel, I've built me some great memories. For a year that started off with me telling myself I would not travel too much, I journeyed to:

Charleston, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Dead Sea, Key West, New Orleans, Fort Lauderdale, Maine, Los Angeles, Napa, Sonoma, San Francisco, Palm Beach, The Bahamas, and the Dominican Republic.

Definitely keep up with our travels by viewing the stories in our TRAVEL TAB.  At Instinct, ever since we started the Travel Thursday pieces, we have been sharing stories about trips we personally experienced.  We could share other travelers' posts, but we would rather tell you about our journeys and the great places to visit first hand.  I've had some people reach out to me and ask me some follow-up questions about my journeys. Answering them has helped me relive those vacations over and over.

Are you more into splurging on possessions or travel?

Happy Holidays to all.  As you gear up for the New Year, don't forge to get out and travel!

Here are some of my personal pictures from that trip to New Orleans to give you a small taste of the decorations around New Orleans during the holiday season. 




(h/t FastCoexist via Traveller) and