A Proven Way to More Happiness

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We know that travel comes with a host of great benefits: unplug from the daily minutiae, you get to spend time and reconnect with people you love; rekindle that flame you put aside while taking care of your family; you get to see new things and try new things; you get to relax away from the pressures of work; you get the thrill of realizing dreams you may have had for years and years.

There’s a great quote that states that travel is the only thing you can buy that leaves you richer. As it turns out, travel is the best way to spend your money. Can you believe it? Does it sound too good to be true? Of all the things you can buy, the experience of traveling gives you, by far, the most bang for your buck. All these great elements of travel have been proven to make people happier. This is especially true when you’re talking about children. Travel experiences bring their textbooks to life. It gives them experiences that they can’t get from a book.

Even more than that, every part of the travel experience — before, during, and after — is more satisfying, more enjoyable, and has longer-lasting positive effects than buying stuff.

In 2003, Thomas Gilovich published his landmark study called To Do or to Have – That is the Question”– a study that, more than a decade on, continues to influence social psychology and the study of what brings us true contentment. Gilovich looked at how economic choices affect well-being and analyzed the differences between experiential and material purchases on human happiness. His unexpected discovery has changed the way we look at our buying habits: Across the board, doing things makes people way happier than having things.

The reason for this is that we get to live and re-live the joy of experiences through memories and photographs. Buying an expensive TV or even a new car gives a momentary spike in good feelings that lasts for a few days. If something happens to them, they have almost become disposable – a sort of planned obsolescence. You go out and buy new. But when you take an amazing trip, you get the memories and the good time together — and every time you think of that trip, or you see something that reminds you of it, a smell of a scent that was in the air wherever you were, or you look at the picture on your wallpaper, your brain registers those joyful times and releases mood-enhancing endorphins that make you feel like you’re re-living the happiness of the experience itself. It stays with you, and you get to access it whenever you want.

It’s not like we need another reason to start planning that dream trip — but another study that Gilovich co-authored has found that even the anticipation of experiences outdoes the lead-up to material purchases. People waiting in line to get tickets to an event are happier and more excited than those who are waiting in line to buy something.

So, even something as boring as waiting in line is more fun when it’s connected to your travel experience. But it makes sense when you think of it, doesn’t it? You’re waiting to, say, get your passport photo taken, and associated with that time are thoughts of where you’re going to go, what you’re going to see, and all the adventure that awaits. Or you’re sitting at the pool bar at the all-inclusive resort where you’re staying is preferable than sitting in a crowded bar at home. When you’re planning that trip with your agent, you get to make progress, take steps towards realizing your dream, and each step is actually a part of the adventure itself.

As travelers, we know the many positive benefits of getting out and seeing the world. Now we can feel even better knowing that those benefits continue to improve our lives, long after the trip is over. Our vacation memories make us happy. So I ask again, are you happy?

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I Don’t Need Trip Insurance, or Do I?

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“This is a girls (guys) trip. No one is going to back out.” “This is my last single fling. No one will back out. We all want to party!” “Seriously? Nothing will happen to the resort. They’re prepared for hurricanes.” “No one will get sick before the trip.”

And the BIG one – “I don’t want to spend any more money. I won’t need it.”

Sound familiar? I get these responses a lot when I ask about the purchase of trip insurance to protect the financial investment of my clients’ trips. We all know that life has a tendency to get in the way of best laid plans, and if you can afford to lose potentially thousands on your trip, more power to you. I know I can’t, and most people I know don’t want to, either. More and more, people are saving up for awhile (sometimes years), spending these savings on a special vacation, and don’t want to have to spend any more than they have to. I get it. Really, I do. Budgets suck. There’s no other way to put that.

However, consider that you just laid out $2500 to go to Cabo San Lucas in March for a trip with your besties for a bachelorette getaway. You didn’t take the trip insurance when you booked because you figured that there was no way you weren’t going to celebrate with your best friend since nursery school before she gets married. It’s late January, and everyone is paid in full. Guess what? The bride goes skiing in Aspen with her fiance on a before-moon to escape all the stress from planning the wedding. She falls, breaks her leg, and needs surgery. The doctor won’t clear her for travel in early March. Do you still go without the woman of the hour? My guess is no one wants to go without her. Without the insurance, everyone is out their investment.

We are all careful drivers, but what if you are in an accident? No one ever plans for one of these. That’s why they’re called accidents. One of these can take its toll, especially if it’s serious, and may force you to cancel your trip. This would be a covered reason with the insurance.

Losing employment – Sometimes this is obviously going to happen, sometimes not. Losing your employment can certainly scare you out of going on vacation, and rightfully so.

Jury duty is another big one. The judicial system doesn’t care if you have a vacation planned. You must do your civic duty. My experience with this one is an example here. I had an infant at home the last time I was called for jury duty, and I was still made to appear. Minor children at home used to be a valid reason to be able to either not go or postpone your service. A Cancel For Any Reason (CFAR) clause in addition to your policy would cover you here, and loss of employment, too. These are typically extra, but are worth every penny if needed.

Keep in mind, however, that fear or fear of illness aren’t covered reasons for trip cancellation, and isn’t going to be covered by Cancel for Any Reason. A perfect example of this currently is the coronavirus. Some travel suppliers are making some exceptions, but for the most part, unless you’re traveling to a place that has been quarantined or restricted travel within the next few weeks, you’re not going to be able to cancel and get a refund. Take the same precautions you would if you were at home. Check with the WHO and/or CDC daily for updates. It’s literally changing by the hour.

While these are just examples, it’s not too far off of what can actually happen. We always recommend trip insurance to our clients, and wedding insurance to our destination wedding clients. While it may seem trivial, and not an expense you want to lay out, should something happen, it’s peace of mind knowing that your financial investment is covered.

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