by Elia Strange
Holidays, are they really worth it?
At first you might be think - what a silly question to ask!
Our idealistic view of our holidays is to have quality time to relax, read favourite books on the beach, and generally have a good time. But if you think about it carefully, a holiday involves a lot of preparation and spending money.
To arrange, to insure...
If you are planning to go on holiday with your family, you then need to think about the extra necessities that you will need to take, insurance to book and maybe even car rental to arrange. Then there’s the shopping for the best holiday deal, this is often a nightmare.
If you are like me, then you will spend hours and hours trawling different websites, trying to find the best deal you can. After what seems like an eternity of searching and quitting many websites because they were 'not sufficient' (i.e. desired holiday location not available, have too many irritating pop up adverts, the pages taking for ever to load or even crash on you etc etc), you develop a headache and decide it’s time to call a travel agency.
Travel agency nightmare...
You phone to the travel agency, saying that you found a good holiday deal for your family on their website and would like to book it and they answer, ‘Sorry, this deal is not available anymore, but we have another good deal you might be interested in’. This deal usually costs you far more what you thought you would have to pay in the first instance and you agree... Because you don't have any more enthusiasm, time, energy, and headache pills to continue searching for that ‘best deal’.
Then you will need to remember to arrange a taxi or search online again for parking near the airport for your car (which usually costs you a small fortune). If you have a dog or a cat, you will need to arrange their place in a kennel too (yet another small fortune), unless you have very kind friends or family (which usually is not the case).
Then you need to remember to set your alarm for 3 am and to remember where you put all your tickets and passports, you did check they were all valid didn’t you?
Fun in the Airport...
After successfully getting to the airport, you will now face the long slow queues at checking in, always worrying that you might have over weight luggage or there is going to be something wrong with the paper work, then through to boarding where the worry all starts again, finally you board the overfull airplane where everyone feels like a sardine in a can. Well, now you can relax for a bit (that is - if you are not afraid of flying and not if you have small children with you), until you reach your destination.
Your tired and dehydrated, your children have exhausted you with their constant bickering and ‘are we there yet’ statements and at arrivals the worry worm returns as you again queue for passport control. Will they allow us entry? Is our luggage here, Where is our rep/coach? All of this and I haven’t even started on 'inspecting your hotel room' once your reach your final destination.
So your week (or two if you lucky) of holidays has finally started, minus two days for travelling and which has cost you, [Put an estimated figure here then double it] per person for those few days.
Well, Psychologists (The Psychologist, 2011) say that your 'holiday happiness curve' starts with a lower mood in the first 10% of your holiday time. This involved your travelling time.
Then you will reach 'high mood' and this will last until you'll be in the 80% of your holiday. And at the period of 80-90% your mood will decline. It seems that this pattern is applicable to every one of us, and that's of course if you didn't have 'holidays from hell'! So considering you get 'high mood' for 80% of the time, the holiday may be worth it in the end.
The best length of holidays...
The researchers also suggest some interesting detail. If you want to have the best mood on your holidays, then go for 3 to 6 days of holidays, no more and no less. It seems that time is enough to make us happier. It's not too short - so that you didn't have enough time to relax on your break, and it's not too long either - when you start getting bored (or start counting your spending money).
Other benefits of going on holidays:
Having a holiday can also boost your self-esteem and feelings of happiness, reduce your emotional exhaustion; increase your interest in work (though it lasts only a few weeks). Vacations can give you a chance to reconnect with your family or friends, and to refill your battery. The Psychologists also recommend that you to go on holiday as frequently as you can - so to keep your levels of health and well being high. And who could argue with that?
So in conclusion - holidays are definitely worth it but only if you are looking forward to them and expecting to have a good time. Then, as those researchers said, your thinking becomes 'rosy-tinted', you have good memories (even if they are somewhat exaggerated), you forget about the stress, time and money spent on those holidays, and start looking forward to your next holidays.
The Psychologist (2011). Wish you were here? 24 (8), 574-579.
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