Find Happiness In Experiences, Not Things

We know money is a finite resource, so learning how to spend to increase our well-being can hugely impact our lives. Especially since we buy more and more stuff every year! There are reports that indicate we consume twice as many material goods today as we did 50 years ago, and even more during seasonal sales!

As these numbers rise, scientists have begun to analyze how shopping makes us feel and even which purchases increase our happiness overall. They discovered something we all know deep inside: stuff doesn’t make us as happy as we think – and we would be better off if we spent our money on experiences!

Science has probed what we travelers, with our hearts full of wanderlust, already suspected: It’s experiences that bring us happiness, not things.

Dr. Thomas Gilovich, a psychology professor at Cornell University, explained it best:

“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 part of you. We are the sum total of our experiences.”

Dr. Thomas Gilovich

One can tell he’s been studying money and happiness for over 25 years!

In his studies, he discovered that while things can make us happy to an extent, that feeling doesn’t last as long as expected. In the long run, he found that people’s satisfaction with the things they bought went down. The opposite happened when they were asked about their experiences!

It is crucial that we keep that in mind when shopping for ourselves, but also for others. Americans spent around $15.2 billion on unwanted holiday gifts in 2019, and 4% of them ended up in the trash. We have to stop it!

It is interesting that while things can last a long time, and one can actually hold on to them, experiences that come and go (sometimes in the blink of an eye!) make us happier in the long term.

Man walking by the sea, smiling

Right now you’re probably thinking: “I know experiences are actually a better gift than tacky things, but I don’t have enough money to gift experiences to all my dear friends and family members!”, but experiences don’t have to be more expensive than gifts! Theater tickets? Wine tasting visits to a vineyard? A guided tour in a new city? A restaurant booking or a night out of town? These things can fit a variety of tastes and pockets!

And what about bigger experiences? If you have a loved one interested in walking the Camino de Santiago, we offer Gift Vouchers for any amount and we can help the hiker in your life to start turning their dreams into reality! These vouchers are an excellent way to support their plans, and the receiver will be able to cash them for trips on both Follow the Camino and One Foot Abroad, so the choices are almost endless!

Intergenerational family walking the Camino de Santiago

Choose the gift of the Camino!

Gifting an experience like the Camino to a loved one will be a unique and cherished memory for them. We have been offering customized Camino de Santiago trips to thousands of satisfied pilgrims since 2006. We have decades of Camino knowledge between us and we would love to help you to plan your next Camino.

If you are thinking about taking a holiday with your favorite hiker – bring them to the Camino! Contact us for a free quote and itinerary!

Black Friday offer - 50% off

Subscribe to our blog

Stay up to date with the latest Camino news, events and webinars.

Free Camino Guide

Download Free e-book