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New formula could be key to best-ever holidays

Anyone that has ever wanted to embark on their dream holiday could do so with a new scientific formula.

Devised by Dr David Holmes, a top UK psychologist, the formula uses ‘anticipation’ and ‘expected memories’ to ensure that holidaymakers get the maximum benefit from their trip. People should book their trip at least 120 days before flying and plan one unique activity for each day of the holiday in order to get optimum value.

Dr Holmes explains that episodic memories are created when we do new things, so while relaxing on the beach every day might seem appealing, in reality this offers little benefit. "So while the 'fly and flop' type break might feel like a restorative holiday option, the benefits are actually very short-lived. What is going to offer longer-lasting reward between one holiday and the next is a break packed full of rich experiences,” he said.

Holidaymakers don’t need to go to the extreme when planning activities, just doing different activities will increase the value of the holiday. Dr Holmes suggests that everything from a picnic to a bike ride can improve the trip. The unique formula relies heavily on anticipation, which is why the number of days before the holiday is important. Being cumulative, the value of expected memories increases with each day.

It also uses the length of the trip and number of activities planned to generate a figure for expected memories. Their value increases when there is variety, rather than repeating the same activities over and over again. Booking early doesn’t only have benefits in terms of enjoyment, but it can also provide the opportunity for early bird discounts, as well as giving plenty of time to organise other things, such as travel insurance.

Using the formula, we can see that booking a week’s holiday to Spain a month in advance, where travellers plan to stay in a hotel, go swimming and sunbathing has an achievable value of just 45%. Compare that to the 98% value achieved by booking one week in Dordogne six months in advance, and making plans to canoe down rivers, go swimming, cycling, snorkelling and much more.

Date Created: 07 March 2014

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