(Editor’s Note: The last two times we shared similar stories to this one, it’s been quite controversial. Just remember, you don’t have to like what a study finds or even agree with it. And other people might feel comfortable (or uncomfortable) with things you don’t. Just please be kind to one another.)

The first time I went on a trip I was one month old. The first time I went abroad was at age four. The first time I lived abroad for a short time was at age 10. At 16 I went on my first international trip without adult supervision. At 17, I moved abroad. At 25, I became a nomad. I have traveled to 42 countries and counting and lived in over 10. Clearly, I love and value travel more than anything. Travel brings me an incredible amount of joy, and I would much rather spend my money on a trip – even locally – than on objects.


Buying Things Doesn’t Bring You Happiness

Shopping is part of our modern culture. The problem is most of us don’t only head for the shops when we actually need something, but for other reasons. If you have a high paying job – or even if you don’t – money may be just burning a hole in your wallet. You may give into amazing advertisements. You may want to feel better about yourself. You may partake in ‘retail therapy’ and shop when you feel overwhelmed or emotional.


Shopping may give you a temporary job. But is it happiness? The instant gratification of a new purchase will likely be gone in a few hours or days. You may still use the products, but it may not bring you joy. Or you may not even use it because you already have something similar, you don’t need it, or don’t like it. The problem with this kind of shopping is you are often trying to buy happiness. Unfortunately, the cliche is true. Money can’t buy happiness. At least not when it comes to products.

When your initial joy disappears, you will crave the urge to buy something else to feel the satisfaction again. Products are your drug and shopping is the addiction. It’s like taking another hit. But true happiness never comes from buying things. Can you buy happiness at all? Not happiness perhaps, but you can buy experiences that can bring you lasting happiness.

Travel Brings You Joy – Science Says So

According to Cornell University researchers, experiences can help you get out of the cycle of searching for happiness by buying products. Psychology professor Thomas Gilovic indicates travel may be your true solution. Because travel can bring you true happiness. When you book a trip you will experience the same hit of joy and satisfaction as when you buy new shoes or a new phone. However, travel also gives you lasting memories, experiences in a different culture or nature, valuable time with people you love, a new perspective, and more. These happy memories can supply you with joy for a long time.

What Else Can Bring Me Joy?

Other than travel, other experiences can bring you a similar amount of joy. Learn new skills. Pick up a hobby. Go see a play or a ballet. Play sports. Go to festivals. Sign up for a road race. Go to unusual events. Try anything that’s new or sounds interesting! These activities will create memories and become a source of joy. You may even meet new friends to build future memories.


At the end of your life, you will never say “I regret in investing money into experiences and memories.” But you may regret wasting money on useless objects. The choice is yours. But remember, traveling and experiences are the true secret of happiness.

*Article originally appeared at Healthy Holistic Living.