In this article from Smart Money a group of researchers looked at the happiness levels of people who were taking a vacation and those that weren’t. They found higher happiness levels after a vacation only for those vacationers that rated their vacations as “very relaxing” which was a small group.
One recommendation of this article is to take shorter vacations more often since the length of stay didn’t seem to affect happiness. This is why I’m such a big fan of the stay-cation. The act of traveling someplace new can be stressful but using some of that traveling money to stay at the nicest hotel I can afford within a few hours’ drive, and really enjoying the facilities of the hotel to the fullest is my idea of “very relaxing.”
The significant finding was that happiness levels were higher before the vacation for some up to 8 weeks before. The anticipation of the trip actually benefits us more than having just taken a vacation. I think this desire to imagine the vacation before the vacation, and trying to relive it after we return is really the reason for the rise in websites like TripAdvisor.