Travel Advice

Why You Need To Spend Money On Travel And Experiences

The Grand Canyon

I’m in my 40’s. At this age things have happened to me. My son was born 19 years ago and now he is in university, I’ve become divorced and remarried,  I’ve moved jobs,  family have sadly died. You reassess what you want from life in your 40’s and re-evaluate your happiness.

People say money makes the world go round and I feel money can make you happy – to a point. Once your basic needs are met though does it really make you any happier?

Think about buying a physical object, you may get that buzz when it is bought and you have that tangible evidence. It may make you happy, for a time, but does it make you happy in the long term like a holiday or experience does?

Dr. Thomas Gilovich, a psychology professor at Cornell University, had been studying the question of money and happiness for over two decades. He says…

“One of the enemies of happiness is adaptation,”

“We buy things to make us happy, and we succeed. But only for a while. New things are exciting to us at first, but then we adapt to them.”

He suggests spending money on experiences instead, like learning a new skill, visiting attractions or travelling.  He found that, over time, when we spent our money on objects, that our satisfaction waned but our satisfaction with experiences just went up.


Shared experiences also connect us more with other people. You are more than likely to bond with someone with a shared experience of a California road trip, than someone who also bought the latest technology. I know we still talk and laugh about the time as a family we got stuck on a ride in Islands Of Adventure, Orlando, that was a bit scary, and the time  we went to the Burj Al Arab for afternoon tea, in Dubai, one of the most luxurious hotels in the world and my son said to me “Mum, you didn’t tell me they were going to treat us like kings!”. We remember the time when we flew over the Grand Canyon in a helicopter, marvelling at the landscape below, when we went to the colosseum in Rome and imagined what it would be like to be a gladiator, and when my son and husband tried indoor skydiving for the first time and felt what it would be like to fly. These are memories we will cherish forever.

Dr Gilovich says, “We consume experiences directly with other people, and after they’re gone, they’re part of the stories that we tell to one another.”

It may not be obvious initially that experiences bring people more happiness than material goods but the research shows that it does and people feel happier talking about experiences not things.

So I would say to you, would you rather a house full of stuff or a passport full of stamps? Let me know what you think and share your experiences with my readers.

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  • vicky
    January 31, 2016 at 5:22 pm

    I would say it has to be a passport full of stamps – life is for living 🙂

    • Mr and Mrs W
      February 2, 2016 at 11:38 am

      I totally agree Vicky!

  • Elanor
    January 31, 2016 at 6:35 pm

    This is a lovely post, I always talk about the places I’ve been to much more than the latest thing I’ve bought. I’m hoping we will soon have the money to go travelling 🙂

    • Mr and Mrs W
      February 2, 2016 at 11:40 am

      It doesn’t have to be a holiday aboard either, it could be a weekend away somewhere local to you. It’s about spending the time together with family, and friends and experiencing new things and interesting places.

  • Ali
    January 31, 2016 at 7:50 pm

    I have big plans to travel once my boys are older, unfortunately finances have got in the way and we’ve had very few holidays out of the U.K. I agree though, memories are priceless

  • Eve Redmond
    January 31, 2016 at 9:03 pm

    Couldn’t agree more! Things that we buy eventually just become normal to us. However an amazing holiday or tip or experience will stay with us x

    • Mr and Mrs W
      February 2, 2016 at 11:42 am

      It will and it does, and talking about those experiences with loved ones is just great fun too.

  • Jenna
    January 31, 2016 at 9:59 pm

    I love this! We do not have much money for travel, but try and visit somewhere new every year. We often say we had our children young, so that we can travel more in our 40s & 50s 🙂

  • Katharina
    February 6, 2016 at 3:17 pm

    I realised this a while back. There are a few “objects” that I want for general comfort. And that does include my own flat or house one day (for safety). But in general I would much rather have an experience with a loved one than receive a gift for my birthday or Christmas.

  • Wanderlustingk
    February 21, 2016 at 7:47 pm

    Completely agree, which is why my boyfriend and I love traveling together and try to limit our spending otherwise. 🙂 It’s worth it long-term!

    • Mr and Mrs W
      February 21, 2016 at 7:52 pm

      I think It certainly is! We live in a flat and are lucky to be able to work from most places in the world. It wasn’t always the case, especially when we had a shop for 5 years that tied us, but now we make the most of our flexible working, and travel!