Once you graduate college and start the working life, it’s much harder to plan spontaneous trips and adventures and instead blow your paycheck on a nicer apartment, a new car, or retail therapy. While all of these things can be useful in making your life more comfortable, you should really be asking yourself if they will make you happier in the long run. And the answer is often no.
Research has actually shown that people who spend money on experiences like traveling instead of material things are much happier in the long run. Here’s why.
1) Money and things makes us happy — but only to a certain extent.
Once all your basic needs (food, water, shelter, medical care) are met, money and materialistic things don’t make you that much happier. Several studies have examined this phenomenon, and found that money is important for survival, but there is much more to happiness than raking in the dough.
2) Experiences lead to better stories.
No one wants to hear about your new refrigerator, but every time you tell people that you were in the back of a police car in Turkmenistan with nothing but a flask of vodka or the time you slept under the stars in Ecuador, you’ll have their undivided attention. Perhaps the purpose of life is to ultimately be a superbly interesting old guy or gal who has the craziest stories you can pass on.
3) You’re more likely to bond with people who’ve shared an experience with you than someone who has your same iPhone case.
Hiking the Appalachian trail or fishing in Alaska is something you can truly bond about with someone who has done the same. Life is all about relationships, and finding good ones is easier through shared experiences (even if those experiences were stressful or negative).
4) Experience and travel change you for the better.
After a trip to Africa or South America, you’ll learn so many new things about different cultures that you’ll come back a completely transformed person. Travel forces you to go outside your comfort zone and meet new people — and ultimately makes you a better, smarter, more confident person.
5) Adventures and memories sustain your happiness for a longer period of time.
Life is all about building strong, happy memories with people who change, love, and improve us. Even bad experiences, in hindsight, can be positive learning and character-building experiences.
6) Buying material goods is inherently selfish, while travelling makes you step outside of yourself and empathize with the world.
Whether it’s a volunteering trip to a poor country or a tree-planting excursion to Madagascar like Tentree, you’re going to learn how to help the world by experiencing it — not by staring at a platinum screen TV.
7) When you look back on your life, you’ll remember the adventures you had and the people you met along the way you made an impact on you.
You’re not going to remember the type of iPhone you had in 2012.
8) Buying things can isolate you, while stepping outside your door and going on an adventure will only connect you to the world and others.
Do you want to accumulate material goods or give back to the world somehow? Choose the latter, spend money on travels and experiences, and you’ll find yourself happier.