Researchers from the Netherlands set out to measure the effect that vacations have on overall happiness and how long it lasts. They studied happiness levels among 1,530 Dutch adults, 974 of whom took a vacation during the 32-week study period.
The study, published in the journal Applied Research in Quality of Life, showed that the largest boost in happiness comes from the simple act of planning a vacation. In the study, the effect of vacation anticipation boosted happiness for eight weeks.
After the vacation, happiness quickly dropped back to baseline levels for most people. How much stress or relaxation a traveler experienced on the trip appeared to influence post-vacation happiness.
There was no post-trip happiness benefit for travelers who said the vacation was “neutral” or stressful.”
Source: Jeroen Nawijn, Miquelle A. Marchand, Ruut Veenhoven, Ad J. Vingerhoets, Applied Research in Quality of Life, Netherlands (2010)