Skyscanner devises formula for happy holiday
Australia, Canada and South Africa have been voted the happiest holiday destinations by UK travellers.
Over 1000 people were polled in a survey conducted by Skyscanner, which examined various components of a holiday including the quality of accommodation, food, length of flight, weather, duration, motivation for the trip, travelling companions as well as details of planning and paying.
Further and longer = happier
Despite the popularity of the UK ‘staycation’, Skyscanner’s study showed that people are happiest when they go abroad, and the further away the better, with six of the top ten happiest holiday destinations being long haul. The survey also revealed that those who were most happy had been away for the longest period.
The countries ranked in order of happiness were:
3. S Africa
Psychologist Cliff Arnall, speaking on behalf of Skyscanner, explained the reasons behind the findings:
“As great as holidaying in the UK can be, most people enjoy experiencing somewhere different with a better climate. Short haul trips to Europe can offer this, but they are also now relatively common. Long haul holidays tend to be for longer periods of time and have greater impact because they are seen as more special than staying in the UK or catching flights to Spain, for example.”
Overall, 69% of those surveyed were ‘ecstatic’ or ‘very happy’ about their last holiday. This is due to the fact that people enjoy the relaxation achieved by a holiday says Arnall:
“Two thirds of working people dislike their jobs and many resent the routine associated with the predictable, mundane nature of things at home. Being on holiday is an ideal escape from this and is both stimulating and relaxing.”
Money can buy happiness
The study also revealed that contrary to popular belief, money can in fact buy happiness; those who had spent more than £3000 per person on their holiday were the most happy. This ties in with the longer haul destinations, and may also in part be due to the type of trip; for example a honeymoon or a ‘once in a lifetime’ voyage has extra special meaning and is likely to cost more.
A sense of sharing was also important, with the happiest people making a joint contribution in planning and paying for the trip.
“Holiday planning, especially when done jointly, is a very satisfying activity. As long as all concerned feel they are making a contribution and having their views taken into account then planning is both enjoyable and makes people feel emotionally closer to each other.” says Arnall.
The importance of companions
The survey showed that it takes more than just money to make a happy holiday; the choice of travel companion and socialising once there is also significant. Those who had holidayed with friends and also made new friends whilst away, were happiest. How visitors are treated by their local hosts also affected happiness; the more welcoming and friendly they are, the better the experience.
Whatever the weather
Good weather was also important to achieve maximum satisfaction whilst on holiday. This is especially relevant for those living in the UK where the climate is unpredictable and a common cause of complaint. Therefore the guarantee of sun (or snow) is a vital factor in holiday happiness.
Expectations and the planning of a trip also affected satisfaction. Rather than having heightened expectations that were then dashed, the survey found that those who had planned a long time in advance were happiest. Arnall explains:
“Booking ahead provides two very important positives; something to look forward to and something to tell other people about. People who have booked ahead well in advance have the satisfaction (and some might say smugness!) of knowing exactly where they are going and when. Telling other people about nice things you are going to do is a crucial part of boosting self-esteem and achieving social status.”
The Holiday Happiness Formula
Although there is no exact science to travel, using the findings on factors that affect holiday happiness, Skyscanner has devised a psychological formula for a happy holiday:
H = (I x P) + M + A + W + R + (D – d)
H – Holiday happiness: the level of contentment felt whilst on holiday
I – Interpersonal connections: genuinely getting on with the people you are travelling with and meeting new people whilst on holiday is a very important part of having a happy holiday experience.
P – Planning: includes all aspects of researching the destination and travel arrangements.
M – Motivation: visiting a destination you always wanted to go to, a place that holds some fascination or desire for you.
A – Accommodation: includes the comfort, cleanliness, location and the quality of food.
W – Weather: the predictability of temperature, winds, daylight and dryness all combine to decrease psychological stress and increase mood and relaxation.
R – Reflection: taking the time to appreciate the new things you are experiencing whilst away and also appreciating what you have at home.
D – Distance: destinations further away from the UK correlated with greater overall holiday satisfaction. This is due to such destinations being less common, more special trips.
d – Delays: the longer the delay the higher the stress and unhappiness with the holiday. This is an unpredictable part of travelling which can reduce overall happiness.