This Is When You Reach Peak Happiness on Vacation, Says a Psychologist

Updated 04/24/19
Ideal vacation length
@wethepeoplestyle

If you were to describe your dream getaway, chances are you'd opt for more days vacationing rather than fewer. But it turns out there actually is a cap for maximizing just how much happiness you derive from your time off—so you may want to reconsider behavioral science before requesting vacation days or booking your flights.

Psychologist Daniel Kahneman asserts that shorter vacations are typically just as good in hindsight as longer ones. As explained in Business Insider, the reasoning for this has to do with how people's lived experience and memory shape what they take away from certain events like vacations. "In general, he's found people's psychology can be divided into an 'experiencing self' and a 'remembering self,'" either living in the moment or extending the happiness potential of an experience by remembering, recounting, and ultimately reliving past events.

 

As so many of us cater to our remembering selves, often milking the enjoyment of a single trip by sharing stories and photos, you can maximize the potential of the memories you make in just one week. On the other hand, because the human brain typically only remembers what's novel, spending two weeks in the same place doing the same thing won't allow for enough differentiation to really upgrade your experience.

If you've already taken two weeks' time off, what's recommended is to dramatically switch up your getaway at its halfway mark. If you're yet to request time off or book, you may want to consider sticking to a week and saving your remaining vacation time for a different adventure down the line.

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This story was originally published on July 21, 2017, and has since been updated.

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