Holidays can evoke a range of senses and emotions, – the feel of the fresh salty sea air on your face, the sweet fruity taste of a tropical cocktail, and the chirping sound of crickets in the night can all take you back to a time and place that was memorable and unforgettable.
However in this day and age, when we often live life through a lens, it’s said we could do with reconnecting to our senses rather than documenting everything. Taking that time to live in the moment, to stop, actually look around, absorb the atmosphere, the wonderful smells, taste the local food, and listen to the sounds around you, of your destination.
TUI, the holiday company, understands this connection, that we truly come alive when we use all our senses to experience a place, a moment, a vacation. They want to help holidaymakers make the most of their holiday by stimulating their senses like never before and have created Sensatori holidays for that purpose. Recent research that proves our holiday memories can fade after just two weeks has led to TUI Sensatori resorts creating Sketch to Etch kits so guests can sketch their holiday moments while in a resort, to retain their holiday memories for longer.
Leading experimental psychologist and renowned Oxford University sensory expert, Professor Charles Spence, in collaboration with British artist Phillppa Stanton – who possesses the rare neurological condition of synaesthesia – visited the TUI Sensatori Resort Negril to explore how sketching can help engage all five senses and help retain those ‘wow’ holiday memories for longer.
The project was supported by a study of 2000 adults which discovered that more than half of the population suffers from ‘Digital Holiday Amnesia’– relying on smartphones or other devices to ‘store memories’ for them, leading our own memories to falter. Professor Charles Spence, said ‘”Much of the pleasure from holidays comes from the remembering. Yet, new research reveals that the average Brit’s holiday memories fade after less than two weeks. Three-quarters of holidaymakers are convinced they have shorter attention spans because of smartphones and the internet. Despite this, there’s a growing tendency to want to digitally document life experiences, whether that’s sightseeing or what we’re eating.”
“Taking the time to sketch out a treasured experience from a holiday is a better way to lock away memories that will stay in the mind much longer than simply just pressing a button to take a photograph.” Charles Spence continued: “When we watch something unfold from behind a lens, we’re not truly living and sensing the experience. Smartphones can prevent us from creating fully-fledged memories as capturing a picture only really engages one of the senses – sight. It’s only by really engaging with our experiences on holiday through all of our senses that we can hope to process all the stimulating information to lay down the sorts of memories that will last, and that will be easier to retrieve.”
Now that I know that having a strong sensory experience can lead to longer lasting memories, it makes sense that I can recall my memories of Florida so easily and clearly, a destination that evokes a range of sensory experiences and emotions. We’ve travelled all around the state, from Orlando to Clearwater, Miami to Key West, and it’s an area of the USA that keeps us coming back for more.
It all starts with that wave of heat that envelopes you as you leave the plane. The humidity is like nowhere else we have been but coming from a cold country like the UK it always makes me smile. I must admit, many of my memories are related to food, I’m emotionally connected to my stomach, like many of us, so tasting the wonderful Florida seafood and the juicy burgers and steaks, (nowhere does top quality steak like the US), takes me back to a time and place. Then the sights and sounds of the water parks, the theme parks, the beaches, it really is a place where dreams come true.
When I go back next, I will take the time to absorb the beautiful sunsets, perhaps even take a sketchbook to draw that memorable sunset in Key West rather than take a photo. It will be something unique to look back on and remember that moment in time.
Check out Professor Charles’s quiz to see how in touch with your senses you are and let me know the result! If you complete it, there is also a chance to win a holiday too, so do give it a go. My results showed a high awareness of connections between my senses.
What do you think of this research? Are there destinations which evoke a strong sensory response in you?