A recent study says that spending your money on possessions can make you happy, but that spending money on experiences such as travel will make you happier longer.
The study looked at 154 people enrolled at San Francisco State University, with an average age of about 25. Participants answered questions about a recent purchase — either material or experiential — they personally made in the last three months with the intention of making themselves happy.
While most people were generally happy with the purchase regardless of what it was, those who wrote about experiences tended to show a higher satisfaction at the time and after the experience had passed.
While 154 people don’t make a particularly statistically significant study, you can add my vote to the mix.
When I was a kid my family bought a small used red trailer. It was fourteen feet long, but you had to count the trailer hitch to get that length. It was very close quarters for a family of four but we took that trailer around much of the western U.S. and Canada. It was there that I developed my love for travel. Many of my friends growing up had never been outside of California and, even if we grant that it is quite a large and diverse state, that made the fact that I had been to exotic places like Wyoming and Alberta was special… at least to me.
I think it is safe to say that every toy that I bought at that age, any car my family had, every stitch of clothes I wore has worn out and been thrown out. But the memories of standing at Old Faithful, exploring Lewis and Clark Caverns or watching the men land on the moon for the first from a trailer park in Victoria B.C. have not lost any value over the years.