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How to reach ‘bliss point’ with travel? Start with purpose and people.

Apr 11, 2019

Recently BBC Capital put the question on the table as to how many days you should take off work for the optimum holiday or vacation trip. What is the perfect trip length that leaves you with maximum satisfaction and avoiding disappointment?

While there are many factors to consider, you could take some cues from the 57,000+ young travellers surveyed by WYSE Travel Confederation. Young travellers represent an ideal vantage point from which to consider the question given that they tend to stay longer, spend more, pursue a wide variety of activities during an international trip, and make up at least 23% of international arrivals.

According to New Horizons IV, a global survey of youth travel conducted once every five years by WYSE Travel Confederation, holiday travel differs from purposeful travel in that it seems to require a bit longer to reach ‘bliss point’ at just over 30 days. Most purposeful travel provides an earlier happiness peak, probably because people are more engaged from the start.

In contrast to holiday travel, the 30-day point for purposeful travel can actually represent a low point, where the level of happiness tends to dip. Cultural challenges can typically present themselves at around the 30-day mark, when the ‘honeymoon’ phase fades. The good news is that thereafter peak happiness levels can be recovered at around four and six months, when purposeful travel happiness reaches similarly high levels as holiday travel happiness.

Happiness by travel purpose

Source: WYSE Travel Confederation, New Horizons IV, 2017

The interesting exception within purposeful travel is volunteering, which shows a steady climb all the way through, ending up with one of the highest happiness levels for the longest trips. This seems to suggest that helping others and travelling for more than just holiday or vacation makes young people happier.

Read more about youth travel in New Horizons IV: A global study of the youth and student traveller.