If you think back to your most memorable travel moments, why are they so memorable? Why do they stick out to you? Was it the people you traveled with? A specific destination or experience that you had been looking forward to for a long time? Or a completely unexpected experience that pleasantly surprised you?
I recently listened to a podcast entitled The ARC of Happiness by The Good Life Project. While this podcast didn't mention travel specifically, it made a lot of sense to me and spoke to the subtleties of how we enjoy experiences throughout our lives. (Spoiler alert, I’m going to tell you what A.R.C. stands for, but the episode goes beyond this definition and I recommend you listen to it in full here.)
The ARC of Happiness stands for Anticipate, Relish, Contemplate. Anticipation is a large chunk of the happiness equation. Looking forward to an experience, preparing to travel, and talking about it with friends and family all contribute to your enjoyment of the overall experience. While you’re traveling, relish in the moment, savor the experience in front of you, stop and take it all in. Let go of expectations. Once the experience has passed or you’ve returned home, contemplate all that contributed to your trip and its success (or failure). While most people will walk away and never think about an experience again, set aside a small moment of time to contemplate what happened, what you experienced, what the experience made you think about, and how that experience will affect your life moving forward.
Anticipate. Relish. Contemplate. Although the ARC of Happiness can be applied to anything in your life, from a home cooked meal together with your family, to a concert or performance, to a beautiful afternoon reading your book on a picnic blanket in the park, it really hit home for me when I connected it to my travel experiences.
The anticipation of an upcoming trip is as important as the trip itself. Booking flights and hotels last minute can take away from your experience as the anticipation is completely cut short. Give yourself the opportunity to daydream about your upcoming trip, to sip on a cup of tea as you look through hotel and excursion options rather than stressing yourself out with last minute decisions. Whether you’re hiking through the Peruvian countryside or you’re on the Big Red Bus in London, take a deep breath and look around you. Remove the distractions and take in all that you can from each experience. Relish in each moment. Once you’ve returned home, have unpacked, and are settled back into your routine, contemplate all that you experienced throughout your trip, look back through your photos, tell your friends and family about the most memorable parts of your trip. Contemplation brings your experience full circle, from the anticipation and the buildup of excitement, to relishing and savoring in each moment, to looking back and contemplating on all that you saw, smelled, tasted, and experienced.
Whitney’s love of experiential travel began when she studied abroad in New Zealand. Upon returning home, this seemingly small decision led her on an unpredictable path to do everything in her power to continue exploring the world. Within one year, she headed to Africa for one month to visit a friend who was volunteering with animals in need of rehabilitation support, and upon graduating only 6 months later, she moved to France for no other reason than the study the language and experience the culture firsthand. Fast forward 8 years, 2 languages, and 20 countries later, Whitney has successfully combined her passion for foreign languages and experiential travel with her professional experiences and launched Undiscovered Sunsets, a bespoke, experiential travel agency.