travel and happiness

Ciao! I’m Jessica, the girl behind a blog called BRAVE, and I am so happy to be guest posting here today! On my own blog I usually write about living in Switzerland, traveling the world, and a handful of adventures in between. But, today I thought I would change things up a little bit and share an idea.

For a while now I have been dwelling on one particular question:

Why does travel make me happy?

In the last year and a half I have traveled to 17 countries, spent twelve months abroad and plan on living in Europe for at least another 2.5 years. So you could maybe say that I am a travel addict. I can’t help it, exploring the world makes me happy!

Brave Blog

Before I delve into some amateur philosophizing let me be clear: I am only nineteen, so I am far from having all the answers! Already in my year and a half of living abroad I have made plentyyyyy of silly mistakes, like the time I got food poisoning in Croatia or broke my foot in the Zurich airport… Live and learn, right?!

But I digress. Back to the question:

Why travel?

A few weeks ago my brother emailed me an article he read he psychology class about the startlingly weak connection between money and happiness. Multiple studies prove that (in most cases) spending money does not provide lasting happiness. Can you guess in which situation money can “buy happiness”? That is right, TRAVEL. Spending money on an EXPERIENCE instead of “things” is proven to bring the most immediate and lasting happiness.

Makes sense right? I love looking through photos and reminiscing about past adventures, but rarely (if ever) have I “fondly recalled” a pair of nice headphones I purchased, or a new electronic. Probably because things become outdated rather quickly, while experiences stay with you forever.

So as we start out a new year I have made one simple resolution that I think encompasses many others:

Travel and Happiness

It is all about resolving to buy less things, do more, and focus on what matters: spending time with family and friends, traveling to new places, experiencing new cultures, etc. It isn’t a command to be busier, but an opportunity to revaluate the focus of my life.

This is just my own goal though, and I am sure that everyone has their own opinions on the matter. But just in case you agree with me, and are eager to plan your own 2014 travel adventure, here are a few travel tips I have gathered over the years that help me feel like I am experiencing the most as an involved TRAVELER, instead of just a TOURIST.

Travel Tips
[photo: Thailand]

1. Do your research, read up on the place you plan on visiting! Know its basic history, major landmarks, major attractions, prominent figures, etc. I am always so embarassed when I arrive somewhere only to realize that I know little to nothing about the place. But after something as simple as a quick wikipedia search, I feel more confident and prepared to explore!

Travel Suggestions
[photo: London, UK]

2. Take it slow. I recognize that vacation days are a precious commodity. So while I totally understand the urge to pack in a 10 day mega trip across eight countries in Europe, I promise you that you will have a better experience if you take it slow. Spend at least a few days in each place and you will feel much more connected and refreshed.

The Art of Traveling Cinque Terre Italy
[photo: Cinque Terre, Italy]

3. Talk to people. This one can definitely be a hit or miss. But I have to say that on more than one ocassion I have learned something about a city that I never would have otherwise merely by striking up a conversation with waiters, tour guides, museum employees, etc.

Travel Bruges Belgium
[photo: Brugge, Belgium]

4. Stray from beaten path. So often in Europe those odd looking cobble-stone side streets are home to talented artisans, delicious family-owned restaurants, and much more, unbeknownst to tourists. So do a little exploring and don’t be afraid if the menu isn’t in english or you don’t speak the shopkeepers language. You’d be surprised how far miming gestures can get you!

Travel New York City
[photo: New York City]

5. Take public transportation. This may seem like a silly tip, but public transportation offers incredible people watching! Plus, if you are in a chatty area of the world the conversations that follow will surely be memorable! I have met 9/11 survivors on the NYC subway, proud grandmas in Prague, and an elderly ceramic maestro in Italy. It is those little interactions with strangers that make travel so unique!

And thus concludes my little guest post! :)

If I didn’t bore you to tears with my ramblings, feel free to check out my my blog and read aboout more travel tips + exploring the world + adventures with my tribe (family of 12!) whenever I am stateside.


Filed Under: Guest Post, Travel4 Comments
  • Chantal

    Perfect tips! Especially about taking your time to visit a place. Many people want to see it all in just a day or two but how can you enjoy a place if you’re running around all day without actually seeing anything!
    I’d say just pick a few things you really really want to see in a city or an area and just go with the flow for the rest of it and see what exciting new things it brings you :)

    • Jessica

      Thanks Chantel! I totally agree, you can’t do you it all! And If you try to run from museum to museum you will leave exhausted and feeling lackluster about your destination. “go with the flow” is a good way of putting it.

      • Postcards from Rachel

        We also ‘go with the flow’ when we travel! Otherwise you get home feeling completely drained!

    • Postcards from Rachel

      This is exactly what we do when we travel. We make a list of a couple “big” things we want to see and then we just wander around the city and people watch. I think that’s the best way to really get to know a place. :)