'The Happy Traveler' - Book Review

The Happy Traveler
by Jaime Kurtz
Oxford University Press, 291 pages

I read 153 pages of the 250 pages in the body of the book (there are another 40 pages of notes and index).

Jaime Kurtz is a happiness researcher and a traveler, which means that part of her motivation for doing the research and writing the book is self-interest ... and when it's non-fiction, I consider that a good thing.

I've been a traveler for many years, and a follower of happiness research for roughly the same amount of time (approaching 20 years now). I particularly noticed her quoting Dan Gilbert's Stumbling on Happiness, one of my favourite books. I think Kurtz does a very good job of applying existing happiness research to travelling, but my long familiarity with both subjects meant that much of what she was saying I'd already worked out for myself. Here are a couple of examples of her suggestions (possibly not the best ones, but ones that I remember, partly because I already use them):

  • it doesn't matter how pretty a view is, you'll get tired of it. Book a couple days in a room with that fantastic view: make it a splurge at the end, or move on to other views so you don't lose the joy.
  • anticipation is part of the joy of travel, so don't book last minute. Don't book super-early either, that has its own attendant problems.