Do Experiences - Like Educational Travel - Bring Greater Happiness?

You’ve probably heard the expression “money can’t buy happiness,” and according to recent research, that may be true!

One of our Program Leaders recently sent us a great article, The Science Of Why You Should Spend Your Money On Experiences, Not Things, on this very idea. According to the article, people tend to be happy with the material goods they purchase – like the latest iPhone – only up to a point. In comparison, it’s their experiences – like travel or studying abroad – that bring them greater satisfaction.

“Our experiences are a bigger part of ourselves than our material goods,” says Dr. Thomas Gilovich, a psychology professor at Cornell University. “You can really like your material stuff. You can even think that part of your identity is connected to those things, but nonetheless they remain separate from you. In contrast, your experiences really are part of you. We are the sum total of our experiences.”

This factual and emotional experience is a primary reason we believe it is so important for students to travel. Experiencing new cultures firsthand helps students grow as individuals. They leave the comfort zones of their hometowns and see how others around the world live their day-to-day lives. Student travel—whether in middle or high school, or even in graduate school—opens doors, changes perspectives, and provides memories that students will “own” forever.

“In addition, we consume experiences directly with other people,” says Gilovich. “And after they’re gone, they’re part of the stories that we tell to one another. …[Plus,] shared experiences connect us more to other people than shared consumption.”

We hear it all the time from students and teachers. Educational travel has changed their lives through the experiences they’ve had and the friendships they’ve made: Their outlooks expand. What they see and discover becomes an inspiration that motivates them to explore new directions. Because of their travels with WorldStrides, students have gone on to pursue careers in politics, science, engineering, architecture, the arts and so much more.

We continue to believe in the benefits of travel, for any and all individuals. You may not remember your new iPhone 10 years from now, but chances are, you’ll never forget the first time you saw the Eiffel Tower, hiked through a Costa Rican jungle, or trekked along the Great Wall of China.

Learn more about our educational travel and study abroad programs.