Travel: the peak-end rule

Psychologists and economists have looked in some detail at vacations — what we want from them and what we actually get out of them. They have advice about what really matters, and it’s not necessarily what we would expect:

  • How long we take off probably counts for less than we think
  • Taking more short trips leaves us happier than taking a few long ones
  • We’re often happier planning a trip than actually taking it
  • Interrupting a vacation can make us enjoy it more
  • How a trip ends matters more than how it begins
  • And though it may feel unnecessary, it’s important to force yourself to actually take the time off in the first place — people, it turns out, are as prone to procrastinate when it comes to pleasurable things like vacations

[…] what matters far more is the intensity of sensation, whether it’s excitement or pain or contentment. And it’s not the overall average of the experience that people remember, but how they felt at the most intense moments, combined with how they felt right as the experience ended. Psychologists call this the “peak-end rule.”

Read: How should you spend your time off? Believe it or not, science has some answers.