Happiness Day – Travel & Tourism Leading From Front (22.03.15)

The second ever International Day of Happiness took place this week. Designated by the United Nations (UN) General Assembly, 20 March each year is the day when member States are invited to pursue, observe and celebrate ‘happiness’ as a fundamental human goal.


Set up at the initiative of Bhutan – a country which famously adopted the goal of Gross National Happiness over Gross National Product after Bhutan’s fourth Dragon King Jigme Singye Wangchuck coined the phrase as an antidote to western materialism – the Day has given people across the world an opportunity to at least reflect on what makes them happy.

While Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon reflected on the fact that happiness ‘is one of the main goals of the United Nations’, the UN marked the day by asking celebrities and Twitter users to assist in compiling a playlist of favourite happy music. Fronted by the singer song writer Cody Simpson, #HappySoundsLike trended, as Pharrell Williams, best known for his hit song “Happy”, addressed the UN.

Sounds aside, the Day of Happiness site asked everyone to reflect on the importance of connecting with other people, on the basis that it is one of the fundamental mainstays behind feeling a sense of happiness.

This got me thinking that this is surely where travel and tourism leads the field. The very action of travelling away from home to a destination where you connect with other people, cultures, landscapes and environments allows one to expand one’s own sense of wellbeing as much as that of others. Factor in the importance of good holiday actions falling in line with the Global Code of Ethics for Tourism, and happiness is easily found, as much as shared, when promoting responsible, sustainable and universally accessible tourism.

So here are my Top 10 list of travel experiences that make me the happiest:

  1. Tropical sunsets


Whether it’s an African sundowner, summer music festival or balmy tropical sunset, it feels good, looks good and makes everyone happy.

  1. Learning from another culture


The reward, and subsequent feeling of happiness, from experiencing first-hand how another culture ticks, is matched by the feeling of friendship shared when that other culture embraces, shares and explains itself. After all you are never too young to engage, and never too old to learn.

  1. Finding a remote paradise beach


Beaches tick most people’s boxes, but finding a remote, safe, under-used one when you are least expecting it, beats anything.

  1. Being invited to a local ceremony or tradition


Whether it’s something specific, like a rite of passage, local wedding, local sporting event or religious ceremony, or something broader, like embracing a local national holiday, the feeling of sharing such a meaningful local cultural experience can bring a sense of happiness way beyond anything you might pick up at home.

  1. National Parks


So many of our Nomadic Thoughts clients’ experiences revolve around visiting national parks. Amazing up-front-and-personal nature, wildlife and wilderness experiences enhance our understanding of who we are, and where we fit in. Happiness essentials.

  1. Luxury in the wildness


Whatever your sense, or idea, of luxury – you sure will feel happy when combining a pocket of luxury in an otherwise remote, stunning and beautiful wilderness area.

  1. Making friends


Travel, like no other pastime, brings people from different cultures, creeds and continents together in the spirit of friendship. As the Happiness Day mantra highlights: ‘after years of happiness research, one thing has proved fundamental – the importance of our connections with other people’.

  1. Mountains


I am at my most happy when in the landscape of mountains. Life becomes a lot simpler when on top of a mountain, and with that a sense of peace and happiness.

  1. Wildlife


Let’s face it ‘Nature Rules’. I’ve never really understood why people spend so much money on art … when the beauty of nature knocks anything man-made for six every time.

  1. Music


Where would we be without tunes on our travels? The UN has invited us to choose a track that makes us happy – I’m going for ‘You’ll Accompany Me’ by Bob Segar.

‘A gypsy wind is blowing warm tonight
The sky is starlit and the time is right
And still you’re tellin’ me you have to go
Before you leave there’s something you should know
Yeah something you should know babe

I’ve seen you smiling in the summer sun
I’ve seen your long hair flying when you run
I’ve made my mind up that it’s meant to be
Some day lady you’ll accompany me ….’