Eveline Harvey

Eveline Harvey is nzherald.co.nz's travel editor.

Survey reveals essential factors for a great holiday

Kiwis are more likely to experience holiday happiness if they travel at least seven hours by plane to get to their destination, and if they can create social media boasting opportunities with their holiday snaps, a survey has found. Photo / Thinkstock
Kiwis are more likely to experience holiday happiness if they travel at least seven hours by plane to get to their destination, and if they can create social media boasting opportunities with their holiday snaps, a survey has found. Photo / Thinkstock

Heading to the beach for a few days' camping is no longer enough to guarantee holiday happiness, according to an Expedia survey of more than 500 Kiwis aged between 18 and 54.

It found today's travellers are more likely to value action-packed holidays in party hot spots - and being able to create 'holiday envy' in their friends is also a key consideration.

Using a mathematical formula to assess the relative importance of various aspects of people's holidays, a team consisting of a psychologist, a mathematician and expedia.co.nz travel experts was able to isolate the factors which help guarantee holiday happiness for New Zealanders.

Perhaps unsurprisingly after this year's abysmal summer, great weather was the factor valued most highly by those polled.

Psychologist Meredith Fuller, who was one of the panel members analysing the results, said the survey also revealed Kiwis were prepared to travel reasonable distances - at least seven hours on a plane - in order to secure a holiday with fine weather.

"It's really important that when you come back (from a holiday) you're feeling really de-stressed...

"In order to do that, psychologically, if you just go away for three days and it's an hour away, it doesn't have the same impact, but if you get on a plane and you're literally going for a long journey, then you get ready for the process...

"You're using that time to decompress from work."

Other factors the poll respondents valued in guaranteeing holiday happiness included spending at least five nights away from home and travelling with a partner or a group of at least four other friends.

The poll, which was conducted to celebrate the launch of new vacation booking service Expedia Holidays, also questioned 1000 Australians, but Fuller said there were some marked differences in holiday requirements between the two nations.

"New Zealanders came up really big on wanting to party... so they want to go somewhere where there's a lot of high action and a lot of opportunities to have fun. They're very adventurous."

Australians, meanwhile, were focused on finding a great destination, but were less concerned about what the weather was like once they got there.

They also tended to spend less time on social media sites while holidaying, whereas New Zealanders spend an average of five hours and four minutes of every 15-day holiday updating their social media profiles.

Fuller said many people felt posting online about their holidays heightened the experience for them because they got a self-esteem boost when their friends 'liked' the things they were doing in a public forum.

"It's become such a trend because we've become even more visual than ever and we've become even more quick to process, so visual images convey a lot... you're able to stay in touch with your network very quickly, you're getting feedback very quickly, so it makes people feel connected."

Other factors which Australians identified as important in planning their holidays, but which didn't register with New Zealanders, included the need for great food, safety and security and a great hotel room.

Each of the factors in guaranteeing a good holiday was given a different weighting, depending on how many of the poll respondents identified it as important.

The formula the analysis team came up with for great holidays for New Zealanders is: Holiday happiness = happiness (baseline) + great weather (10.9) + plenty of activities (10.8) + being relaxed and de-stressed on return (10.1) + great destination (7.6) + value for money (7.5) + plenty of partying (4.5) + holiday envy from friends or family (2.7).

University of New South Wales mathematician Rupert McCallum, who worked on the formula, said it was a unique opportunity to apply mathematics to a "down-to-earth and common activity".

"It's great when mathematics can provide new and unexpected insights and enhance people's enjoyment of their lives, as I hope this will."

"The factors that make up the equation are the perfect mathematical blend, some have a bigger bearing on holiday contentment than others, as denoted by the numerical values, but put them all together and, statistically speaking, you should have a happier holiday."

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