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The Happiness Lesson about Travel that I Keep Forgetting

I went to Havana, Cuba, with some friends a couple of weekends ago, to celebrate a friend’s birthday.

It was a terrific trip. But it reminded me of a happiness lesson I have to remind myself of, over and over.

Before I leave on a trip, I inevitably start to think, “It’s so much trouble to go, I dislike the hassle and the logistics, it would be so relaxing to have a staycation,” etc.

Of course I realize how lucky I am to have the opportunity to travel (especially to Cuba). I never forget that.

But I’m not a natural travel-loving person; I tend to love familiarity and routine. I’m not very adventurous.

Once a trip is underway, however, — every time — I’m so happy. Time seems rich and slow. I meet interesting people and get to do interesting things. I learn about the world. Even the most common objects — items on a grocery store shelf, cars, signs — are intriguing.

Research shows that people who do novel and challenging things are happier than people who stick to their familiar ways. Even little things, such as going to a new restaurant, provide a happiness boost.

So now, each time I start to have those thoughts, “Wouldn’t it be easier to stay home?” I remind myself, “You’ll be so glad once you’re there.” But still, although I’ve been through this process many times, I have to repeat it.

I realize that a lot of people are scratching their heads, thinking, “Is she nuts? It’s so fun to travel! I love to travel! If only I had more time/money/energy to travel!”

It took me a long time to admit to myself that I’m not a natural travel-lover; I wish I were, but I’m not. But even so, I can get a big happiness boost from the experience.

How about you — do you love travel or are you more like me?


The Happiness Lesson about Travel that I Keep Forgetting

Gretchen Rubin

Gretchen Rubin is the award-winning author of The Happiness Project, a #1 New York Times bestseller. You can also watch the one-minute book video. She is a regular contributor to Psych Central.

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APA Reference
Rubin, G. (2018). The Happiness Lesson about Travel that I Keep Forgetting. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 20, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Jul 2018 (Originally: 1 Feb 2017)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Jul 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.