Why we should buy experiences not things

Updated: Mar 31, 2019


Anyone who knows me knows I am a huge fan of happiness. In a world dominated by technology where instant gratification is the norm, we’ve come to put an enormous effort to get away from materialistic object hoarding and invest our money in experiences instead. When it comes to experiences, travel is the number one best-seller and for a good reason. Travel helps us break the cycle of our mundane 9 to 5 jobs and gives us perspective on the world and on our lives, proving that why we should buy experiences, not things. Why buying things doesn’t make us happy

Let’s say you just went out and bought a brand new car. You take it for a spin and it’s the coolest feeling in the world. But how long does that really last? If you’re anything like me, you find yourself bored of the new toy in a few weeks tops, no matter how cool it may be. As the paradox of possessions explains, the more objects we obtain, the more we get used to them and feel the need to buy more and quicker. That’s a straight up set up for bankruptcy lane.


Travel, on the other hand, manages to fulfill a need shiny objects can’t. According to Dr. Thomas Gilovich of Cornell University, experiences provide more durable happiness. The theory behind his conclusion is quite simple - when you buy a car, you feel happy at the moment of the purchase, but soon this emotion begins to fade. When you book a trip to Hawaii, you get excited way before you have even boarded the plane. Some even anticipate their trips so much that they can’t sleep on the night prior to departure. (If you’re one of us, try a tablet of melatonin - works every time.) This feeling of happiness then lasts all throughout the trip and even after, when you whip out your phone and show your friends those sweet Instagram shots you snapped in O’ahu (or the Spanish Pyrenees).




Apart from broadening our horizons, travel dares us to take on adventures we may have not thought we would, like eating fried scorpions or ziplining through the jungle. As someone who’s been on the road for 8 years and counting, travel is the best way to step out of the comfort zone. I used to be extremely shy and very introverted. Unlike a designer bag or watch from Selfridges that makes us feel good for a second, travel teaches us to get comfortable with ourselves and that we don’t need the latest smartphone that’s come on the market (which happens literally every week anyway). That being said, don’t feel like you have to swear off technology completely. I always bring my phone with me when I travel, so I can capture a gorgeous sunset in LA or take down the number of a friend I met in Belgium who wants to hike the Camino de Santiago together. It’s ok to invest in appliances that will help make your travel experience the most comfortable and enjoyable possible.


So there you have it - the recipe for happiness is to buy experiences, not things, and travel; is the best way to do it. When you do prepare for your next adventure, make sure to consider whether you’ve become somewhat of a slave to technology or if you use technology to your advantage and invest in the right essentials, so you can get the most out of the experience. Happy travels!




(PS - The SunBear Adventure Retreat isn’t exactly going to be in the middle of nowhere and in fact we have high-speed fibre optic WIFI in the midst of our gorgeous villa in the Spanish pyrenees —so you WILL be away from the norm, but not exactly in the middle of nowhere!)

Nataly SunBear is our beloved Founder at SunBear Adventures. Have you read the story behind why she started this wonderful experience for all of us? Click here to visit her in Facebook and Instagram

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