Health and Behavior

Avoiding the travelers' blues

Professor's book offers tips on happy, meaningful vacations

by Eric Gorton

image: /_images/madisonscholar/2017-Jaime-Kurtz-book1.jpg

SUMMARY: The book is intended for a general audience and is organized to address planning travel, the time spent traveling and the return home.

From the rigors of travel to handling relationship tensions to unplugging from work, vacations can be surprisingly stressful.

Jaime Kurtz has first-hand knowledge of the struggles and might be able to help — via some tips in her new book. Published in late May by Oxford University Press, "The Happy Traveler: Unpacking the Secrets of Better Vacations" offers tips for making vacations more fun, meaningful and engaging.

An associate professor of psychology who teaches positive psychology, Kurtz said writing the book involved combing the research on happiness, meaning and decision-making; and also talking to friends and people in the travel industry. It is also inspired by her own experiences. After finishing graduate school and finally having some time and money for travel, Kurtz realized traveling wasn't as much fun as she thought it would be. "And if I, a happiness researcher, can't have fun on vacation, which is a time especially set aside for fun and happiness, maybe there's something inherently difficult about it," she said.

The book is intended for a general audience and is organized to address planning travel, the time spent traveling and the return home.  Kurtz also writes about how to enjoy time spent at home during "staycations."

publicity photo of Kurtz holding her book with a field of yellow flowers and blue skies in the background

While canceled flights and lost luggage are certainly concerns for travelers, the book focuses more on topics such as picking the right destination to meet the travelers' needs, getting along with other people, unplugging from work and relaxing, and savoring the present instead of thinking about what’s happening next — "That's one of my big challenges," Kurtz said.

"There are all these reasons why traveling isn't as easy as we think it is," she said. "I have some friends who can't stop checking e-mail while they're on vacation. They say, 'If I don't check it now, I'm going to come back and have a thousand e-mails.' So even though they're on vacation, their mind is still at work. I address many of these challenges in the book.”

"The Happy Traveler" is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

madison scholar logo and title on field of gold

Published: Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Last Updated: Tuesday, June 27, 2017

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