Getting Away: New study shows travel enhances happinessBy Lane Stafford | 11/30/2016 11:30pm
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
People experience more gratification and happiness when they spend their money on travel rather than material things, according to a study conducted by Tom Gilovich, a professor at Cornell University.
“The explanation for this centers around additional benefits people get, like social connection and an enhanced sense of self, from experiences like travel,” Gilovich said.
His study, “We’ll Always Have Paris: The Hedonic Payoff from Experiential and Material Investments,” explains that people tend to regret the things they didn’t do and not things they didn’t buy.
Gilovich said when people travel to a new place they connect to that location in a special way.
“If, say, you travel to Indonesia, you not only learn about the country while there, but forever afterwards you’ll be interested in any news story about Indonesia in a way that you weren’t before,” Gilovich said.
Catherine Ann Boutwell, 20, is an intern at the UA study abroad office.
“Study abroad is a great way to distinguish yourself from everybody else," Boutwell said. "It will give you a lot of experience like adaptability and things employers are looking for.”
Less than 10 percent of American students will study abroad during their college career, according to the Institute of International Education. Resumes that contain travel experience can make students stick out from the crowd.
Boutwell said traveling forces students to be independent, which matures and changes students for the better.
Boutwell lived with a host family in Tours, France, for five weeks last summer. She said before her trip she was introverted and shy.
“Now my confidence has just gone through the roof," she said, "I learned that I can rely on myself."
When students are submerged in a new culture without the attendance of family they become global citizens, said Boutwell.
Boutwell said that exposure to different locations can help students gain a better perspective on issues going on in their country and world.
Even weekend trips to cities outside of Tuscaloosa can help young adults become more cultured. Every city around the nation has its unique environment, people and culture.
Another valuable result of travel is social connection.
Marissa Cornelius, a junior majoring in secondary education, studied abroad in Oxford, England, this summer.
“This opportunity allowed me to experience a new environment, challenge myself academically and make friends from both Alabama and England that I never would have made before,” Cornelius said.
Travel can foster special relationships. Gilovich said these relationships are psychologically significant and bring people happiness.
Travel can also help students make national and international connections for future job references and opportunities.
When students travel, they expose themselves to valuable experiences that can prepare them for the real world.
Boutwell said students should talk advantage of their opportunities because they can earn credit while traveling and have access to financial aid.
Many also argue that as a student you have more time and freedom to go to the places you want.
“The hardships of finding a job, securing a home, paying bills and settling down with a family are realities that impede people's abilities to travel,” said Kay Rodriguez in The Huffington Post.
Nonetheless, travel is valuable for anyone.
“Travel both directly and indirectly builds your personal and intellectual capital,” Gilovich said.