The research question in this article is about how well we feel duringour holidays and how much people enjoy their trips.
The reason being is that’holiday misery’ is often reported in the media. Horror stories about rape andattacks are in the headlines among other things such as being ill, jet lag(Lewy et al, 1996), stress (Vingerhoets et al, 1997) and even love being at risk”too high strain upon a marriage” spending that much time together (Ryan,1991). In addition to these reasons, there is a lack of previous research intohow tourists feel during their holiday. The hypothesis being that mood differsthroughout a holiday, with the lowest mood being at the beginning and end of theholiday. 481 international tourists were used and data was collected ondifferent days of the week in different locations voted the top touristattractions in the Netherlands during 19 days in spring 2008. The data wascollected using self-report questionnaires and the sample consisted of 68nationalities, 29.
6% of the sample were aged between 18-24 and 46.4% were men. Onthe questionnaire they had to report the type of holiday and activity that day,part of the trip they were on and length of stay, mood from 1 (terrible) to 10(excellent), life satisfaction again 1-10, nationality to distinguish whetherfrom an individualistic or collectivist culture, sociodemographic andtemperature. The results show that the average mood was high with a mean score of8.2 and the mode being 8. There was only a small percentage, 4.2%, of scoresbelow 6. There was no reflection of general life satisfaction, the distributionof mood and life satisfaction scores were similar but the correlation wasn’tsignificant <0.
01. Scores weresimilar across types of holidays, except ones where their main activity wastravelling, they had a lower mood M=6.9. Mood was low on the first days andthen increased and then decreased on the days before travelling back, then atthe end of the trip increased again. The length of stay ranged over 2-365 dayswith 80% being 27 days or less but there was no significant difference in moodscores for different lengths of stay.
The findings conclude that “Holiday misery” is a myth as little over 4%reported low mood therefore the media likes to exploit holiday misery. Thefirst ‘travel phase’ accounts for 10% of the trip and is due to travel, thesecond phase 10-80% “core phase” is where moods are consistently high and the”decline phase” 80-90% mood is at its lowest point as people are thinking aboutgoing home. The final “rejuvenation phase” 90-100% tourists are possibly gladto return home.
The implications of this study are important for the travel industry asthey should pay more attention to the first few days of one’s holiday as theythis is the part mood is at its lowest and so could find ways to make thisexperience more enjoyable. The first limitation of this research is that the holiday happinesscurve is based on lengths of stay varying from 2-365 days and can be differentto the short trips as there isn’t enough time to experience all four phases orin some cases experience the phases on the same day meaning that the outcomeshould be treated with caution. This research exhibits that mood scores arelower than life satisfaction for two-day trips and on those lasting more thansix days. On trips lasting between three-six days holiday mood score is higherthan life satisfaction.
This contrasts with previous research which found thatlength of stay as no effect on life satisfaction (Kemp et al, 2008) oralternatively that trips of a length of seven days or fewer had negative effectson happiness (Neal, 2000). Due to these discrepancies perhaps, an alternativemethod would be more appropriate such as a qualitative approach to discoverwhich factors make a three-six-day trip more enjoyable. Furthermore, the second limitation is that mood was only rated once a day,so development of mood was based on that one finding, in addition to this somesamples were relatively small. For instance, only 29% of respondents werebetween 18-24 years of age meaning their experience could differ to those olderthan them. The reason for this being that they didn’t account for if they wereasking families who could have been travelling with families who might findtravelling more daunting experience or if they’re of an old age, find ittiring. This would explain why their mood was lower at the beginning and end ofthe holiday.
Moreover, mood could have changed throughout the day, especiallyfor shorter trips where they experience a couple of phases in one day. A moreaccurate method may have been the experience sampling method (Csikszentmihalyiand Larsen 1987). Participants had to beep on a PDA and had to document wherethey were, what they did and how they felt at various moments during the day.This would be a much more accurate measure of mood. Alternatively, there isalso the Day Reconstruction Method (Kahneman et al, 2004) which assesses howpeople experience their activities and how they spend their time byrecollecting their previous day experiences with procedures that supposedly aredesigned to reduce recall bias. The benefit of which being that remembering theinformation of each experience allows for analysis, more in depth covering ofexperiences than typical sampling methods and flexibility in adapting theinstruments to the specific needs of study. Another valid limitation is that it fails to account for how peoplefelt just before the trip.
According to a study published in the journalApplied Research in Quality of Life, just planning or anticipating your tripcan make you happier than taking it as they’re thinking of all the good timesahead. In contrast people only, experienced post-holiday happiness if theyfound it relaxing. This could account for the lower moods as at the beginningthey could be anxious about if everything will go according to plan and at theend they may feel disappointment if they weren’t able to achieve everything theyhad wanted to. This would offer an alternative explanation than simply statingthe low mood is due to travel. To test this, they could survey businessmen andday trippers whom were previously excluded from the study.
This would thendiscover whether business men also experience the lower periods of moods ontheir trips due to travel and if day trippers experience any low mood at thebeginning and end of their trip which wouldn’t be down to the same reason of travel.If they had attained this data, they could conclude more concretely about the reasonsof variations in mood. Finally, the researchers didn’t know about their general mood level, generallife satisfaction doesn’t seem to influence holiday mood, therefore it could bepossible that they could have a high mood most of the time. Considering this, oneof the measures should have been general mood to see how their mood changes pre-holidayto whilst on holiday. Lastly future research should look not only at people’s moodduring the holiday season but also how this affects the locals.
Is the high seasonbeneficial for tourist’s mood but detrimental to those who live there?