Travel and Happiness – Where is your Happy Place?
I think most of us will agree when I say that we all travel because it makes us happy.
Travel takes us to our happy place. Note how I don’t use the plural here. I don’t mean a place in just a physical sense but also within yourself. It’s a dead sure way to get those endorphins flowing, to accelerate heart beats, to paint a grin on your face.
When I was 24 I got married in Hawaii. Coming from Germany, a trip to Hawaii seemed like a trip to the other side of the world. Which it is, by the way, but I felt every single mile of it. I had never been to the US before, never even left the 4-hour flight radius from Dusseldorf Airport. Arriving at LAX after a 14-hour flight from Frankfurt, Germany was one of the most profound and special experiences I ever had in my life.
Things that may seem ordinary to you were simply surreal to my younger self. Knowing the US only from the movies and TV shows, I felt as if someone had just picked me up and dropped me in the middle of a Hollywood movie. It was an exciting experience, exhilarating and mind-blowing.
When we left the terminal at LAX to walk to the other terminal to catch our flight to Maui I almost toppled over when I saw a massive stretch limousine parked in front. There were a lot of firsts for me on that day, and this was yet another one. It was the last drop needed to open the waterworks, and so I spontaneously burst into tears. Pure joy in an instant. Happiness and nothing else.
This flood of emotions only seem to overcome me when I travel. The actual wedding – not a single tear wasted. Giving birth to two children – dry eyes. But standing on the deck of a cruise ship as I sail past the Piazza San Marco in Venice… – and I can’t hold back my tears and marvel at the beauty of this world and my privileged life which allows me to collect all these priceless experiences.
To me, happiness can come over me in all sorts of situations and places. It’s the most wonderful thing: uncontrolled, unprovoked, impulsive. A reminder of what it is like to be alive, young, healthy, in the moment.
Australian airline Jetstar recently conducted a fun study on Instagram behaviour of Aussie travellers to find out where the happiest places are for Australian travellers. The results have inspired me to think about my own happy places, which appear to be more internal concepts and not actual physical places. However, many other travellers seem to pinpoint their happy places to just a few favourite destinations, with Hawaii leading the list. Queensland comes in as a strong second, Europe is following straight after.
You can already see a trend here – happiness equals warm destinations and sunshine. The beach seems to be the happiest place on earth for many Instagrammers, with almost a third of all photos showing beaches as the most favourite place to be.
Not surprisingly, pictures taken inside the plane on the way to a destination were also shared quite frequently. Who wouldn’t be happy when travelling to new places, looking forward to the new adventures, the sunshine and the good times?
So I was wondering, where is your happy place, dear reader? What defines happiness for you when you are on the road? Is it a warm beach in Hawaii? Or is it resting within you, only coming out when certain things fall into place, irrespective of where you are and what is in front of your eyes? I’d love to hear your comments!