Travel and happiness: How do we assure we are happy when searching for happiness?

This question sounds a bit over-exaggerated. If you search in Google for any combination of travel and happiness, you’re overwhelmed with articles on reasons why travelling makes you happier.

According to the Huffington Post, travel makes you a happier person, not only in the short term. Amongst others, we will most likely receive a vitamin D boost, learn a few new things and meet some new friends, collect more experiences to savour, increase our confidence and have more “me time”.

According to CNN, we’re in the mood for experiential travel. “Experiential travel is about presenting the customer with the surprise of the “unknown,” the luxury of “unexpected choices” and the empowerment of “overcoming hurdles” (such as scaling a peak) so that he feels he has completed a “journey towards self-actualization.”

And if you ask us now, we’ll surely state that our trip will make us happier. We wouldn’t be doing this if it doesn’t fulfil us or creates a positive energy in any way. All the upfront pleasure and excitement already boosts our happiness level.

So, it’s obvious we are excited about our trip.

What makes it tricky though, is whether we will experience actual happiness during our trip. Whether we can manage our expectations and stay happy during our pursuit of happiness.

Our goal is to let happiness be a state of being instead of a destination to reach.

How come this seems so hard to achieve?

Travel promises us the self-discovery needed to reach the pinnacle of Abraham Maslow’s view on the hierarchy of human needs. The question is whether traveling these days still allows us to discover. The experiences we’re looking for, as CNN describes, are often already started beforehand.

The appealing photos on Instagram, the most fascinating reads of top travellers and the key recommendations on TripAdvisor make sure you already have an idea of “what to experience”.  Sure, we like to try out new things and be surprised (preferably in a positive manner), but we’re also one of those geeky couples who loves to check out our genius deals on Booking.com to increase our chances of having the best experience. Just as we have marked about a dozen of travel blogs with the most promising tips and tricks that will upgrade our experience to business or even first class. Which is nothing but perception of course.

Yet, we are very much aware we incline to fall into the trap of planning, even though we prefer to call it utilizing our genius deals. Because we are keen on making the right choices, we are extremely cautious not to miss a single tip, must-see and highlight that is being described on the Internet.

Not to blaming booking.com of course, nor all of our favourite travel bloggers, because they are of great help. Whether it increases or reduces our happiness level is completely up to us. It’s up to us to prove that travel and happiness are intertwined.

Let’s define how travel and happiness leads to two happy people

Yet what we have already learned and need to practice instead of just preach, is to feel OK to do just be somewhere and go with the flow. Just as we are discovering definitions of happiness around the globe, so are we discovering our own. And for that, we absolutely don’t need to know or plan anything in advance. We simply need to just be.

With regards to a definition of a successful trip, it won’t be the number of countries we visited, the number of highlights we captured on camera nor the frequency of ultimate fancy idyllic remote islands we’ve seen. Our definition of success will be one we can already meet upfront, which is being grateful for whom we are going to meet, which stories we will collect and what we are able to do, see, experience and learn. It’s about the freedom to wake up and do what feels right.

This is something easy to say, simple to write but challenging to practice. It requires some persistence, faith and contentment with whatever will come our way. It means we will try to let go of upfront expectations and will accept the present in the way it comes. It sounds (kind of) easy on paper, but we (especially I, Alissa) know this can be a tough one.

Will be a tough one. But one I’m more than eager to take on.

4 Comments
  1. Accepting that there will be hassles along the way, knowing you’ll not always agree, that negative emotions will pepper the trip is to me, important to keep in mind, and won’t diminish your exploration of happiness!
    What a wonderful journey you’ve got ahead of you!
    Laura Lewis Mantell

  2. Hi Alissa and Tjerk! Veel nice and inspiring to pursuit happiness through travel!

    I one heard happiness is a state of piece: zonder spanning, vol vertrouwen, verbonden in liefde!

    Tjerk heel fijn dat je je liefde hebt gevonden 😉 Inspirerende groet van je oude buurman Mike

    PS welkom voor drankje in ons nieuwe huis als jullie terugzijn. Nico Jessekade 159

  3. Laura,

    thanks so much for your inspiring words. I definitely think acceptance becomes key during our travel.
    Luckily, I already learned about the importance of it ;-).

    All the best! Alissa

  4. Hi Mike,

    Dank voor je mooie reactie! We komen graag een drankje doen zodra we terug zijn! Hoop dat jullie nieuwe huis bevalt!

    Alissa & Tjerk

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