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

Ideal vacation length

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.

Away The Carry-On $475
Jet Set Travel Kit
Aesop Jet Set Travel Kit $37
Paperwhite E-Reader
Kindle Paperwhite $120
H6 Leather Headphones
Bang & Olufsen H8 Wireless Leather Headphones $500
Madewell The Simple Crossbody Bag $98
Slip(TM) For Beauty Sleep 'Slipsilk(TM)' Pure Silk Sleep Mask
Slip Pure Silk Sleep Mask $45
Swell Pink Topaz Insulated Stainless Steel Water Bottle
S'well Pink Topaz Insulated Stainless Steel Water Bottle $35
NightBright(TM) Duo
Drunk Elephant NightBright Duo $28
eBags Packing Cubes $30
Yamiu Travel Shoe Bags $12

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

Getting ready to book a vacation? Discover the number one travel-planning hack experts know (and you don't).

Related Stories