The formula for holiday happiness

CAN mathematics play a role in defining a great break?

A group of experts including a psychologist, a mathematician and travel experts from set out to find just that, and have created the formula for holiday happiness.

With Australians taking over 7.8 million overseas trips last year*, the formula proves there is a science that we can all apply to our next escape to guarantee a top trip.

Factors such as plenty of activities, feeling safe and secure, value for money, creating 'holiday envy' amongst your friends and family and returning relaxed and de-stressed all feature, and join forces with holiday mainstays such as great food, weather, destination and hotel.

Leading psychologist and member of the Australian Psychological Society, Meredith Fuller, said: "The formula perfectly sums up how we Australians see ourselves, and how we reflect this image onto the holiday experiences we have. We are a naturally inquisitive and curious nation, so it's no surprise that our thirst for new experiences - be they physical, mental, culinary or cultural - is maintained or peaks whilst we are on holiday.

"Australians love positive feedback and the admiration and reassurance this brings, so sharing stories or photography, perhaps even to incite some level of envy, is a natural extension of our holiday experiences.  We are also shrewd and astute, meaning we love value for money, but likewise the security that pre-planning gives us. This truly allows Australians to relax and enjoy our time away, returning refreshed and revitalised."

So just how was the formula created and what does it all mean?

Dr of Mathematics Rupert McCallum said: "We interviewed over 1,000 Australians and analysed their responses to determine which factors were most important to their enjoyment of their last holiday.

"We then used sophisticated mathematical techniques to explore the relationship between the individual factors and overall enjoyment. The factors that make up the equation are the perfect mathematical blend, some have a bigger bearing on holiday contentment than others, as denoted by the numerical values, but put them all together and statistically speaking, you should have a happier holiday."

It would seem the influence of mathematics over our holidays doesn't stop at the formula. The research also revealed a number of additional mathematical truths, that when combined with the equation should enhance your next holiday even further.

For example:

  • Spend at least six nights away from home - the most satisfied Australian holiday-makers spent at least six nights away
  • Travel for at least nine hours on a plane - the most satisfied Australian holiday-makers flew for at least nine hours to get to their destination
  • Travel with a partner, or with four friends - the most satisfied Australian holiday makers travelled in groups of two or five

"The fact that the most satisfied Australians are those that flew nine or more hours, once again highlights that we are an  inquisitive bunch who are willing to make longer trips to experience new cultures, cuisines and activities. Psychologically, it's a fact that high performing teams work best when made up of between five and seven people. A group of five people is ideal for getting the best out of everyone: there is less chance of individual conflict, more mental stimulation and enough variety in interests to broaden our experiences," Ms Fuller said.

The study also revealed that Australians can't resist staying connected via social media whilst on holiday. 63 per cent of Australians use social media while away, while the average Australian uses it for six hours and six minutes every holiday.

"Our social media usage is very interesting. It seems it's no longer a case of 'wish you were here', but 'I'm here and you're not'," Ms Fuller said.

"As someone who's studied mathematics for years, there are times where it can feel a little disconnected from real life. Yet as we can see here, mathematics can be used to analyse a very down-to-earth and common activity - the holiday. It's great when mathematics can provide new & unexpected insights and enhance people's enjoyment of their lives, as I hope this will," Mr McCallum said.

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