The Connection Between Joy and Travel
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(Family Features) Many facets of travel – the anticipation, the experience and even the return trip – can enhance your mood. It can create an element of the unexpected and give you the opportunity to gain new, memorable experiences.

To explore the connection between happiness and travel, and what makes a destination joyous, Bank of America, Condé Nast Traveler and happiness expert Shawn Achor created “The Joy Index.” Achor delved into the psychology of experiences that awe people and the physiology of adventure to explain the relationship between joy and travel, and identified the 10 most joyous places in the world. He also shared the following tips on how to make travel attainable and maximize the joy of your vacations:

Predictors of Happiness

The Joy Index combined Achor’s studies on travel and happiness with existing research from organizations, including the United Nations and Gallup, to identify six “happiness factors” based on the psychology of joy and travel: environment, wellbeing, culture, connection, adventure and wonder. These six factors, which encompass everything from weather to geography and local food to the friendliness of the culture, can have an impact on the joy experienced when visiting a destination.

“The three greatest predictors of happiness are gratitude, social connection and meaning,” Achor said. “If you have an amazing life but are not grateful for it, you do not have access to happiness. These three things scientifically improve happiness, but not just for a moment – they change the lens through which you view the world.”

Travel’s Effect on Happiness

Travel allows you to discover something completely new and unique, which is why it can bring so much joy. According to Achor, the human brain craves novelty.

“The new experiences we have when we travel help us gain perspective and remind us that the world is bigger than our everyday problems,” Achor said. “Another reason why traveling makes us joyful is the connection we experience. Traveling allows us to disconnect from our everyday lives and reconnect with the friends and family we are traveling with, as well as locals we meet along the way.”

Maximizing Joy on Vacation

Remembering to be grateful is crucial for staying in the moment and finding joy in your trips.

“Try to think about how lucky we are to travel and experience the world. When things don’t go your way, such as an inconvenient rainy day, see it as an opportunity to make your experience even more memorable,” Achor said.

Putting yourself out there and engaging with the local culture can also be crucial for maximizing the joy of traveling.

“Learning about different stories of people with different cultures than our own helps us realize and understand some of the cool similarities we share and interesting differences based on our backgrounds,” Achor said.

Making Travel Attainable

Achor stressed that happiness can be cultivated wherever you are, but to get the most out of a vacation, planning is crucial. Even though traveling can help increase happiness, many opt out of going on trips because of the cost.  This, too, is where planning can help.

One way travelers can start saving up for their next vacation is by using a travel rewards credit card like the Bank of America Travel Rewards credit card, which lets you earn points on all purchases that can be redeemed toward travel-related purchases. Your morning coffee and other everyday purchases can help get you closer and closer to affording a joyful vacation.

To learn more about The Joy Index, including the most joyful travel destinations in the world for 2017, visit cntraveler.com/joyindex.

Photo Courtesy of Getty Images

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