Studies have shown that novelty and surprise foster happiness, she explained.
Though there isn't much you can do about having to return to work and routine when you get back, one way of extending those positive feelings about your trip is by thinking about the trip, looking at your pictures and sharing your experiences with others, Maddux suggested. "That's the human connection. We enjoy sharing with people we care about the positive things going on in our lives."
And despite the fact that the "happiness boost" is transient, vacations are still good for us.
"For almost all positive life events, the effect is short-lived, but the effects can be cumulative," Maddux said. "Say you have a meal at a nice restaurant, you feel good afterward. It doesn't have a permanent effect on your happiness. But if we didn't have those positive events, life would be pretty impoverished. Vacations are just one of the things people do for themselves that makes life worth living."
The U.S. State Department's Bureau of Consular Affairs has tips on safe travel.
SOURCES: Jeroen Nawijn, M.A., tourism research lecturer, Breda University of Applied Sciences, Netherlands; Sonya Lyubomirsky, Ph.D, professor, psychology, University of California, Riverside; James Maddux, Ph.D, professor, psychology, George Mason University, Fairfax, Va.; Applied Research in Quality of Life, Feb. 10, 2010
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