We all know that vacations make us happy. They represent time off from work, a chance to de stress, lively activities and a switch up from the ordinary life routine. But when I did a bit of research online, I actually discovered that not ALL vacations make us happy. Things like stressful planning, being over spontaneous or not knowing an area all contribute to creating an unhappy vacation for travelers.
Thankfully, happiness researcher Michelle Gielan from the Institute of Applied Positive Research and Monograms conducted a study to find out the ways to make sure your vacation increases your happiness levels. Not only do they have to do with the time spent in the vacation destination, but they also have to do with the level of fulfillment after the vacation, and the energized state of mind upon returning to your normal routine.
Don’t let stress get the best of you during your highly anticipated (and much deserved) getaway! Here are the four main ways, according to the happiness study and Huffington Post article, to maximize your moods and get ultimate fulfillment out of your vacation.
- Use a travel agent to figure out the details. Trying to figure out too many of the details equals stress for the traveler(s), especially if it’s to an unfamiliar location.
- Plan ahead. The study revealed that the happiest vacations are planned more than one month in advance.
- Go far away. Traveling to a distant location proves to be more meaningful for vacationers than a nearby ‘staycation.’
- Meet up with a knowledgeable tour guide, friend or family member at the vacation destination. Having someone local show you around or at least give you insider tips is a huge component to feeling relaxed during your vacation.
Okay, that all being said, I figured I’d also let you in on why Hawaii is a happy destination, and why you should consider it for your next vacation. To some of you this may seem obvious. Who doesn’t love warm, clear ocean waters, gentle trade winds, floral scented breeze and tropical climates? But these reasons aren’t the obvious ones. Nope. They are the hard proven facts. Here’s how Hawaii makes you happy.
Sometimes referred to as the sunshine vitamin, we get a good portion of vitamin D from the sun. Anyone choosing to travel to Hawaii for vacation is probably looking forward to soaking in these healthy rays, therefore soaking up extra vitamin D. Vitamin D increases serotonin levels (the mood neurotransmitter) and boosts your immunity. Just be sure to protect your skin from over exposure to the sun… no one wants to deal with a sunburn during their vacation.
A Harvard Health online article states that spending time outdoors provides physical and mental health benefits. This is because your vitamin D levels rise, but also because being outdoors usually means you’re engaging in some form of exercise, which boosts happiness and reduces stress. Hawaii is an ideal place to enjoy the outdoors because there is so much natural enjoyment on offer- beaches, hiking, the ocean, the rainforests, waterfalls, the list continues. “Scientists have their own term to help explain why connecting with nature feels good,” states a Fitness Magazine article. “Biophilia, or the innate affinity humans have for other living things,” is the feeling we get when we spend time outdoors. Nature equals feeling good, plain and simple. And Hawaii has plenty of this on tap.
Vacations hopefully always include plenty of R&R. In Hawaii, relaxation is inevitable. Whether lounging poolside, laying in the warm sand or swinging in a hammock, you are guaranteed to find a way to settle into relax mode and really begin to unwind. This type of relaxation creates a more optimistic way of thinking, and therefore a happier outlook on life. Relaxation is also part of a healthy lifestyle, as it rejuvenates both the body and mind, helps regulate moods and is linked to learning and memory function (University of Washington).
Spending quality time with quality people
When you plan a vacation, it’s usually with friends, a spouse or family members. According to Eric Barker (creator of ‘Barking Up The Wrong Tree’ blog), the happiest people are social and have strong relationships. Being able to spend time with friends, family and loved ones increases our happiness, so planning a vacation with others is a great way to create a memorable, happy getaway. In Hawaii, it’s easy to plan activities that build and strengthen relationships, like couples kayaking, morning yoga, or learning a new hobby (like playing the ukulele!). The islands are a great place to get some serious quality time in with the people you love most. There’s nothing like being surrounded by loved ones in paradise.
Savoring good moods
Eric Barker makes another statement in his post, ‘Happy Thoughts: Here are the things proven to make you happier’ and it is that savoring is one of the secrets of the happiest people. But what does savoring mean? It can come in the form of happy memories (like that catamaran cruise you and the family enjoyed in Hawaii), looking forward to something (like an upcoming vacation to Oahu), and being present in the moment (like enjoying the views of the sun setting or savoring the flavors of a fresh island meal).
If you’re seeking happiness, plan a vacation. But be sure to follow the tips above for a non stressful, relaxing experience. And I highly recommend planning this next vacation to Hawaii, since it offers so many ways to increase your happiness levels. Life’s too short to be anything but a happy vacationer!