I have recently finished reading Gretchen Rubin’s book Happier at Home. Many of you will be familiar with her bestseller The Happiness Project. I started reading this book at an interesting time of year. It is the time when I...[more]


This is the first entry of the Tourism Observatory’s new Blog which I will be contributing to on a regular basis from this week onwards. We hope to stimulate some interesting debates, so please do comment when you have time.



Was absolutely blown away by the introduction of the 'Balkan Spa Forest Hammam' concept at the 3rg Balkan Spa Summit (Arandelovac, Serbia). Would you have thought that this would include natural, ethnology, heritage and health?...[more]


We are absolutely delighted that a new project is about to start which aims at the analysis of local wellbeing concepts. These concepts are rather fashionable nowadays: Alpine Wellness, Nordic Wellbeing, or Balkan Spa just naming...[more]


We are working on the second and revised edition of our book on travelling for health.[more]


Here is what we said about what kind of wellness and spa services can be popular and shape the wellness and spa tourism industry by 2015.[more]

Happier at Home?



I have recently finished reading Gretchen Rubin’s book Happier at Home. Many of you will be familiar with her bestseller The Happiness Project. I started reading this book at an interesting time of year. It is the time when I spend the most and the least time at home! The most because children in Hungary have 11 weeks’ summer holidays (those struggling with 6 in the UK might have to read this twice – it really does say 11!). And secondly because it is the time for summer holidays for most Europeans and a good opportunity for quality family, couple or friend time in alternative locations to home. The book made me question whether we really are happier at home or away?


I love the way Gretchen starts her book by realising that the life she is already in actually represents the ’good old days’! She feels a homesickness or nostalgia for the here and now – a sentiment I very much relate to as I see my children grow so fast and time passing more quickly as I get older. If we don’t live in and enjoy the moment when we have it, it will be gone and we will have missed a great chance to be happy NOW. So when I am struggling with my 11 weeks of childcare (!), I try to remember that these summers are very limited in number and they won’t come again. Travelling or holidaying together as a family certainly enhances the summer experience for me.


However, Gretchen is not a great traveller. She is a self-confessed homebody. At one point in the book she explores her home city New York with her daughter in a kind of ’staycation’ mode and concludes that ’being a tourist is a state of mind’. Perhaps in one’s own city this is true as we often fail to notice all the fascinating things around us everyday and we rarely bother to go to tourists attractions, assuming that we will visit ’someday’. But the recession has meant that many people can only afford staycations and may not be able to travel abroad for holidays or even go further than their local area. The re-discovery of one’s own home or environment is a wonderful experience.


But what of wanderlust and the restless soul? There are many people who actually need to travel to be happy. I am one such person. I am restless after too many weeks at home however much I love my home, city, country, etc. Some of the research that we have undertaken on tourism and quality of life in the Tourism Observatory shows that it is not really individual trips that make people happiest, but the act of travel itself and the repetition of the act of travel. That is not to say that a single trip cannot be life-changing, but for the majority, it is the ability and desire to travel frequently that enhances happiness long-term. Of course, frequent travel is the premise of the lucky few, but travel has never been more democratic and affordable as now, and the World Tourism Organization even deem it a basic human right. This implies that it is almost essential for human wellbeing. In our research about quality of life, people did not immediately mention travel when asked what made them happiest (love, family and friends came first), but they were certainly very enthusiastic when they were ’reminded’ of it.


How important is travel for human wellbeing? Are you happiest at home or away? And is travel necessary for your happiness? Please do comment......



Dr Melanie Smith is a freelance Health and Wellbeing Consultant, Researcher and Writer (The Tourism Observatory for Health, Wellness and Spa) Email:




No comments
Add comment

* - required field


CAPTCHA image for SPAM prevention
If you can't read the word, click here.