Martha's_Vineyard_Beach

The 2014 Expedia Pleasure Index study, released last month, revealed that Americans prefer vacations to just about everything. Eighty percent of Americans said that vacations make them happier than marriages (and weddings), religion, cats and birthdays. Eighty-two percent of Americans get more pleasure out of vacations than possessions, and 94 percent would give up at least one of life’s “prized possessions,” including alcohol, video games, chocolate and favorite clothing for an entire week, in return for a single extra vacation day.

To earn that extra vacation day:

50 percent would go a week without chocolate.
42 percent would go without television.
41 percent would go without coffee.
35 percent would not touch their mobile phone/smartphone.
35 percent of Americans would avoid their best friend.
30 percent would go without sex (35 percent of women would do so, versus 25 percent of men).

“The Expedia Pleasure Index study brings some rigor to the notion that most of us intuitively understand: vacations are the fastest path to happiness,” said Sarah Gavin, Expedia Travel Expert. “People appreciate themselves and their loved ones more on holiday. Nine out of 10 Americans believe their happiest memories were formed on vacation. This study, released in the dead of winter, reminds Americans that happiness – a sunny beach, a mountain chalet or just an afternoon at a cafe with friends – is only a few clicks away.”

Expedia introduced the Pleasure Index last year to determine where vacations rank on the list of life’s pleasures. They found it outranked nearly all of them. The 2014 study reveals a tight link between vacations and personal happiness. Eighty percent declared that vacations make them “very” happy. Ninety-six percent believe that vacations make them feel better both mentally and physically.

Vacations charge the American libido. Ninety-three percent report being at least “somewhat likely” to be intimate on vacation. Forty-eight percent say they are “more likely” to be intimate with their spouse or partner on holiday than they are at home. Seventy-seven percent of Americans report that vacations are important to the overall health of the relationship with their spouse or partner. Seventy-nine percent say they most look forward to time with family, and their spouse/partner in particular, when they’re traveling. And this goodwill carries over: Americans who take vacations three or more times per year report higher satisfaction with their relationships.

The single most prevailing charm of vacationing is the ability to do nothing at all. Seventy-four percent of Americans prefer relaxation to adventure on holiday, with four in ten citing “relaxing, doing nothing” and “not having a set schedule” as their favorite vacation feature.

Americans have a complicated view of vacations. Many see vacations as something of a guilty pleasure. Expedia’s 2013 Vacation Deprivation® study found that Americans use only 10 of the 14 vacation days available to them, leaving well over 500 million vacation days unused each year. This is in stark contrast to the French, who take all 30 days available to them.

The 2014 Expedia Pleasure Index study finds that 32 percent of Americans have never taken a holiday of more than seven days, while 71 percent of Americans have never taken one more than 14 days long. Yet a full 85 percent report feeling that they “need a vacation right now.” And those who have taken a vacation in the past year express more satisfaction with both their work lives and their love lives than those who have not.

Americans prize what they know. Forty-one percent of American vacation-goers have visited the same destination four or more times in their life. And they’re willing to travel a great distance to find holiday happiness. The average distance traveled by Americans on their most recent vacation was 532 miles. Younger Americans were more likely to vacation closer to home, though not by much: the average distance traveled by Americans aged 18-34 was 459 miles away, versus 538 miles for Americans aged 35-54, and 606 miles for those 55 and older.