Money, Solo Travel, and Happiness

photo, image, Anand Prakash ashram, money and happiness

My stay at Anand Prakash ashram was an experience that I will never forget (and one I’d like to repeat.)

Can money buy happiness?

Traditional theory and popular music says no. But a recent study suggests the opposite. According to the authors’ analysis, I would say that solo travelers are in a great position to make their money – happiness relationship a positive one.

Have a read…

First, Happiness Theory Simplified – Then How It Applies to Solo Travel

Happy Money, money and happiness

Money, it can buy happiness if you spend it right.

Let’s start with a quick synopsis on the money and happiness issue. As with most research, the results are affected by the questions asked. In the case of money and happiness, the questions researchers have typically asked were about things and how the human brain adjusts quickly to their enjoyment. That research reveals that the “new” thing, though really exciting at first, can quickly become ho-hum.

Recent studies look at money and happiness quite differently. They look at spending money in ways that the brain won’t adapt to or take for granted easily. According to an article in US News and an interview of the authors of Happy Money (which you can see at the end of this post), the key is to buy experiences instead of things and spend it on others in addition to spending it on yourself.

Choices and Solo Travel – Before You Leave

Happiness by Will Ferguson, money and happiness

I read this novel about happiness on one of my first solo trips. It had me laughing out loud yet it makes very good points about happiness.

A number of the principles outlined in Happy Money apply to solo travel planning.

Buy experiences rather than things. The authors of Happy Money, cite travel specifically when they suggest buying experiences rather than things. I would add that solo travel takes the value even farther. I experience great happiness when I successfully meet a challenge on my own. Whether it’s negotiating a new transit system (read Age Brilliantly: never mind the gap) or meeting a physical challenge I have not undertaken before (read Falling in Love in The Lake District) I have found great happiness from these experiences – happiness that is injected into other parts of my life as I live with greater confidence.

Be spontaneous. The brain loves surprises. Surprises make one happy! As a solo traveler, you have more opportunities to be spontaneous than most. Take advantage of that and, without any preparation or planning, at the very last minute, go somewhere for the pure joy of it. Skyscanner has a function within its flight booking engine that allows you to put in “anywhere” rather than a specific destination. When you do, it produces all the possible destinations from your airport in order from least expensive to most expensive. Surprise yourself with a low-cost mystery trip.

Enjoy the anticipation. In the interview, the authors describe the excitement of a child before Christmas and the denouement after the gifts are opened. The point: there is often as much if not more happiness in the anticipation of a trip as there is in the traveling. So, go ahead, dream, research, do whatever builds anticipation for you.

Pay now, travel later. Credit cards are tools. They are not money. So while you may pay for your trip on a credit card, pay off the card before you leave. This approach to money not only relieves painful money woes after a trip (which often negates some of its joy) but also makes the anticipation of the trip that much sweeter.

Choices and Solo Travel – On the Road

And here are some of their principles that apply to solo travel as you are actually traveling.

Make it a treat. Regardless of your budget (whether you have lots to spend or very little) it’s worth treating yourself. Buy yourself an unnecessary gelato.  Splurge on a fine restaurant. As long as it is out of the norm and considered a treat by you, you will gain more happiness from the expense.

Buy time.  There are times when my splurge is a taxi. Upon arriving in a new city, I may take a taxi to simplify life and to make better use my time. This leaves more time for the fun side of travel.

Share your wealth. The research also points out that happiness comes from sharing your good fortune. Whether it’s volunteering or giving generously to the people who clean your room, you will gain happiness by sharing.

So that’s it. Happiness is not about how much money you have but how you spend it. And solo travelers, by our nature, can get more happiness from our travel expenditures than most.


  • Miles of Happiness

    Nice points. Being happy is not that easy for everyone 😉 It’s good to know some tips

  • Swetha Reddy

    Bargain Online for the best hotels at
    For more please watch the video..

  • Gracie Shepador

    Anyone thinking about heading out on your own, go for it! Life is too short to hang around waiting for someone to go with you. There is nothing wrong with doing things on your own. Ive had a chance to meet so many people and see so many places I’d
    never have if I waited around for someone to go with me.

    I do wish there wasn’t a hotel sur charge for singles in a lot of places. I found a site,, that helped me find good deals and places that didn’t charge that fee for a single. Made my life lots easier and saves me money

  • Crif Johnson

    Nice points shared. Enjoyed reading the blog.

  • Stephanie

    PS when I click on the book links it redirects me to Amazon but to the page for a different book…not sure if the links are not working or if my computer is messing them up.

  • Stephanie

    I love this post…and agree entirely! I’m traveling solo currently (and will be until the middle of December) and spending the money to treat myself to this trip has already brought me so much happiness- I had to save up for months longer than I’ll actually be gone to take this trip and it has been totally the right choice. Though I have to say that there are still plenty of things a Euro coin can get you- I’m in the Piazza Bologna neighborhood in Rome (just three metro stops outside of the Centro Storico) and an espresso is 1 Euro here, a gelato is 1.50. Getting just a little ways outside of the major tourist center saves a lot of money!