It’s totally fine to spend all your money on travel!

 

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It turns out that it’s not whoever has the most stuff wins; it’s whomever has had the most experiences wins, and ends up being happier.

Say what? Aren’t we supposed to save all our money so we can keep up with having the newest of phones, TVs, and cars?

It turns out that while we used to think material things were the way to happiness, according to science, what will bring you the most lasting happiness are experiences — travel, outdoor activities, new skills, and visiting exhibitions.

We think because our brand new TV will last longer than a cruise to Bermuda, that the happiness we felt at purchasing the TV lasts longer, too. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case.

“One of our enemies of happiness is adaption,” says Dr. Thomas Gilovich, a psychology professor at Cornell University who’s been researching the correlation between money and happiness for decades. “We buy things to make us happy, and we succeed, but only for a little while. New things are exciting to us at first, but then we adapt to them.”

Because our new TV is right there, it makes it easier for us to adapt to it. But slowly, it starts to fade into the background as an electronic wallflower of our lives. Trips we took, and experiences we’ve had, start to become part of our identities.

Think about it: Which had a greater impact on you — that video game you got as a kid, or the family vacation you took to Greece? You know, the trip with stories that can still make you and your siblings laugh when reminiscing.

“Our experiences are a bigger part of ourselves than our material goods,” said Gilovich in the study “A Wonderful Life: Experiential Consumption and the Pursuit of Happiness,” published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology.

“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 a part of you. We’re the sum total of our experiences.”

Humans are highly social creatures, and meaningful social relationships contribute hugely in our happiness levels.

Gilovich continues, “One reason that experiential purchases tend to provide more enduring satisfaction is that they more readily, more broadly, and more deeply connect us to others.”

Our experiences make us who we are, connect us with other people, and bring us great amounts of happiness.

So, what’s stopping you? Take that money you’ve been putting towards a new couch and get on a flight for Thailand, sign up for a cooking class, or visit the next exhibition at a local museum. You’ll be much happier.

Ultimate guide on how not to be ripped off while travelling

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Travel expenses can really add up. But they don’t have to be quite to hefty is you know how to work the system. Follow these ten tips to travel as cheaply as you can.

Avoid baggage fees. 

Depending upon the airline, you can pay $15 to $75 for the first checked bag, and more for overweight bags. When possible, pack lightly enough to carry on one bag, or fly airlines that still allow free checked bags (two bags for Southwest and one for JetBlue). Many airline frequent flier programs give members with a high status a free checked bag, so check your status.

Watch your hotel Wi-Fi. 

Hotels charge from $10 to $30 per day for in-room Wi-Fi. Set up a personal hot spot on your smart phone and use your cellular service to access Wi-Fi on other non-cellular devices. Some hotel chains offer free in-room Internet access to members of their loyalty programs, so ask in advance and sign up to take advantage of the offers.

Avoid paying double for rental car insurance.

Check your current car insurance policy to see if it covers your rental car. Don’t forget to call your credit card company to check their coverage of rental car insurance, too. Major credit card companies (including American Express, MasterCard, Discover, and Visa) offer protection if you use your card to pay for the rental.

Bring an empty water bottle with you through security at the airport.

Then, fill it up at a water fountain or ask a barista at a coffee shop to fill it up for you to avoid the overpriced water sold at airports. Pick up some snacks at a local corner store instead of hitting the hotel room mini bar, which can lead to expensive surprises on your final bill.

Review restaurant and hotel bills carefully

Mistakes often occur by accident, so be sure to go over every bill when you get it. It sounds obvious, but it can’t be repeated enough. And if there is a mistake, politely ask the staff to fix it. A polite request will go much further than an aggressive accusation.

Avoid paying transaction fees for using your debit or credit card overseas.

Check with your bank before you leave town. Some charge $5 per withdrawal, and an added 3% for all credit card purchases. Many credit cards and banks do not charge these fees. Avoid carrying a ton of cash around with you while abroad. Use your credit or debit card and go to ATMs for cash. Before you go call your bank and credit card companies to put a “travel alert” on your file detailing your travel plans, so they don’t think the foreign transactions are fraudulent and freeze your accounts.

Look out for tourist trap restaurants.

If you’re visiting a restaurant or attraction that has an online presence, Google it or search it on Yelp! to see what the locals say about it and to see if there are coupons available for some extra savings. Often restaurants run deals on Yelp! where if you “Check in” at that restaurant and review it, you get a free dessert or 15% off the total bill. If the reviewers say it’s a big tourist trap, steer clear.

Bring your own food for a long flight.

The in-flight meals are often expensive and disappointing, and everyone will drool over the takeout burrito you were smart enough to pick up en route to the airport.

Think ahead and pick up some nips.

Make sure they are three ounces or fewer to comply with TSA requirements. Bring the small bottles with you to avoid the $6 “cocktail” charge many domestic airlines charge for weak drinks.

Ask lots of questions and read the fine print before signing up for an organized tour

Questions to ask include: “Is tax included in the price? What can I expect to pay in tips? Any meals that are not included? Is alcohol included? Are all side trips/shore excursions included in the price, and if not, how much are they? What are your cancellation policies?” The point is, sometimes the tour is not worth the price, and it’s often cheaper to do it on your own — so be discerning.

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In the end, remember: Getting ripped off is often an unavoidable part of trouble. If it happens to you, learn from your mistakes, but don’t let it ruin your day.