AUSTIN, Texas, November 15, 2016 – Snap those selfies, head to the mountains, and don’t break the bank. Those are just three insights into how deeper vacation memories are formed from a first-of-its-kind study released today by the world leader in vacation rentals, HomeAway®.
The unprecedented examination of more than 700 summer vacationers found that those who take photographs and selfies remember their vacations 40 percent better than their less snap-happy counterparts. That said, there are limits: Those who spent more than two hours using phones and other devices were 26 percent less likely to remember vacation details. Perhaps most surprisingly, the study revealed that the amount of money spent on a vacation has no effect on its memorability, among numerous other actionable findings.
“Let’s face it—we can’t vacation every day, which is why we need great memories to keep us connected to those who matter most,” said John Kim, president of HomeAway. “Every vacation is an opportunity to create great memories with the people you love. With this research, we wanted to answer the question, ‘What can we do to help our travelers make their vacations even more memorable?'”
To better understand how the behavior of the study participants impacted their vacation memories, HomeAway teamed up with a team of researchers at the University of Texas at Austin, led by renowned psychologist and author Art Markman.
“The Science of Memories study is the first extensive examination of what makes vacations memorable,” said Art Markman, professor of psychology at the University of Texas at Austin and lead researcher on the study. “Before this study, most of the psychological research on vacations focused on the mood and health benefits of going on a trip. The opportunity to investigate the science of vacation memories with HomeAway has yielded valuable insights about how such memories are created, from the scientific impact of selfies to surprising news about which destinations are the most memorable.”
Despite conventional wisdom that you should “unplug” on vacation, HomeAway’s research found that people who use smart phones for certain activities, such as taking photos and finding things to do, actually remembered their vacations better than those who don’t.
In fact, those who took photos and selfies on vacation were 40 percent more likely to remember their vacations well than those who didn’t.
Social media use did not have a strong effect on overall memory, although Instagram users had better emotional memory than users of apps such as Facebook and Snapchat: Instagram users were 24 percent more likely than Facebook users to have clear memories of how they felt during their vacations.
Those who used their devices for more than two hours each day were 26 percent more likely to have trouble remembering their vacations versus those who spent less than two hours on their devices.
For those who worked on vacation, these effects manifested at just one hour of device usage each day—they were 43 percent more likely to have trouble remembering their trips than those who worked one hour or less.
Those who used laptops versus phones or tablets experienced similar effects. “Our research points to a clear trend,” stated Markman. “Taking work with you on vacation removes you mentally from the trip, which lowers your engagement with it. That makes it hard to form clear memories. It’s troubling when you consider that the vast majority of adults work on vacation.”1
People who traveled with a mix of family and friends remembered their vacations at least 20 percent better than those who traveled with just family, just friends, in a couple, or alone.
Vacationers who traveled for a celebration, such as a birthday, wedding, reunion, or bachelor/ette party, also displayed 69 percent better emotional recall of their vacations—they were significantly better at recalling how they felt during important moments of their trip.
“Have a big house? Extra space in the car? Consider bringing along an additional family member or friend,” said Markman. “Clearly, there’s something uniquely memorable about traveling with a mixed group containing various types of loved ones. In my opinion, this is a type of travel which many people don’t consider—but given the memory benefits, they should.”
People who visited mountains remembered their vacations better than any other destination type.
Mountain vacations were shown to be 12 percent more memorable than city vacations, the least memorable type of trip, and slightly more memorable than small towns, beaches, and amusement parks.
Surprisingly, the cost of a vacation did not have an effect on its memorability, regardless of whether travelers spent $100 or $5,000.
“Luxurious or affordable, when it comes to vacations, it’s all pretty memorable—and that’s a good thing,” said Markman.
Vacationers who reported feeling happy and excited before their vacations were 73 percent more likely to have excellent recall of their vacation memories versus those who felt other emotions, including stress, frustration, or calm.
“Some people love planning vacations—other people dread them,” said Markman. “This research suggests that there is a significant cognitive advantage for people who let themselves get excited prior to their trips: they remember their vacations better than those who don’t.”
The HomeAway Science of Memories study surveyed more than 700 summer travelers from six countries: the United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Spain, and Italy. Travelers were surveyed before, during, and after their trips with questions designed to measure memory recall. A subset of travelers also downloaded an app which tracked the amount of time spent on their devices. In addition to being the first survey of its kind to investigate the factors that create lasting vacation memories, the HomeAway Science of Memories study is one of the first surveys to investigate the impact of technology usage on vacation memory formation. This research study was designed and conducted by HomeAway and researchers at the University of Texas at Austin. Hanover Research aided in the fielding and analysis of the survey.
To highlight the survey findings, HomeAway today launched The Vacation Equation—an online resource intended to help travelers engineer their way to a more memorable vacation. It contains helpful tips and interactive insights from the HomeAway Science of Memories Study. To access additional findings from this landmark study, please visit www.homeaway.com/lp/vacation-equation.
“Through the more than one million online bookable vacation rentals listed on our sites, HomeAway provides the space and privacy for travelers to create memories with friends and family,” said Kim. “Thanks to the power of science, travelers now have another building block to help create unforgettable vacations.”
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