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7 Tips for Creating Happier Travel Memories

Whether it’s trying new things or appreciating our surroundings, we can all do more to connect with the places we visit. Happiness Research Institute CEO Meik Wiking shares how we can make the most of our time on the road.

1. Go to a New Place Every Year

Travel is about being brought out of your routine,” Wiking says. “It’s experiencing new things, new culture, new food, new people. And that’s the quick route to [making] memories: novel experiences. There’s nothing wrong with going back to the same place over and over again. But if we want a trip to stand out and be memorable, we have to seek out new experiences.”

2. Leave Your Comfort Zone

The right kind of stress can help cement moments in our memories. As Wiking explains, “People remember emotions. When they do something that frightens them a little bit, it gets the adrenaline pumping.”

3. Engage All Your Senses

Experiences that stimulate several senses have a better chance of making a memorable moment,” Wiking says. “Listening to stuff, smelling stuff, and tasting stuff—they are crucial memory triggers. Recording sound from a special place can help us remember it.”

4. Go Ahead, Buy That Souvenir

Objects that remind us of a time and place relieve our brains from having to remember everything. “It’s good to ‘outsource’ some of our memories—the photos, the soundtrack,” Wiking says. “Souvenirs are an easy fix. And I don’t mean a tacky Eiffel Tower; it can be a really nice vase you bought in Paris.”

5. End Your Trip on a High Note

Psychologist Daniel Kahneman developed the Peak-End Theory, which posits that we remember experiences by their most intense moment and how they ended. “So you might want to finish on a high,” Wiking says. “For some, it might be [eating your last meal] at a luxury Michelin restaurant; for others, it might be skydiving.”

6. Reduce the Risk of Digital Amnesia by Printing Your Pictures

Photos can trigger your memory five, 10, 20 years down the line. Pick the top photos—the happiest memories, the best experiences you had—and bring them into print.”

7. Don’t Be Afraid of Things Going Wrong When You Travel

Struggles are always annoying when we are in them, but they also make better stories, because we fought to get through them. That doesn’t help when you are in the situation, but five years down the line, that’s the story you tell.”

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