Young Investor

Take the jump on short vacations

B. Venkatesh | Updated on February 12, 2011

STRESS BUSTERS... Mysore offers scope for adventure sports like bungee jumping and other group activities to promote team spirit.- PHOTO:M.A.SRIRAM.   -  THE HINDU

Picture this scenario. You decide to take a vacation this summer, your first in many years. Your family wants to go on a 15-day trip. You argue that taking a long break will cost you your job. Should you take a long vacation or a short one? Generally, long vacations are thought to be more enjoyable than short ones. But this is not necessarily true. Why? Your first day at a beach resort in a beautiful island will be exciting, given that it's a huge change from breathing polluted city air. The second day might not be so exhilarating. Why? As humans, we adapt quickly to changes. This means that by the second day, you are more likely to take for granted the beautiful sunrise and clean air. This happens because you experienced the “unknown” on the first day. And having experienced it, you knew what to expect the next day. When reality matches your expectations, you do not feel as excited. This leads to two important principles.

Principles of planning

One, plan your vacation well in advance, for you will get immense pleasure anticipating your well-deserved break. Getting a great holiday deal is an added advantage. And two, you are unlikely to recall a vacation when you have ‘overdone' a pleasant experience. You would be more likely to remember a holiday filled with “intense moments” and a great ending. Psychologists call it the ‘peak-end rule'. Take this example. You are strapped for cash and hence have to decide between a long vacation at the beach or a short vacation with some bungee jumping lessons. If you like adventure sports, the peak-end rule suggests you should shorten your vacation at the beach and use the money to take bungee jumping lessons instead. Bungee jumping will form part of your “intense moments”- those you can recall vividly after the vacation ends. It is not the average pleasure that matters. It is instead the peak (and trough) moments that determine your vacation experience. Short vacations can, therefore, be just as memorable.

Published on February 12, 2011

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