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Remember that Cadillac ad in this year’s Super Bowl? The guy asks the question, “Why do we work so hard?” Then he razzes Europeans for taking so much vacation and lists some hard-working Americans who changed the world.

It ends with him unplugging his $75,000 ELR hybrid coupe in front of his awesome house and reminding us that the upside of all that work is the “stuff” it buys.

Whether you loved that ad or hated it, it’s clear somebody hasn’t been reading Forbes or the New York Times.

Because for at least a decade now, there’s new research every two or three years that comes to the same conclusion: Experiences, not things, make us happy.

Based on all that data (and actually more), it’s pretty safe to say that travel makes us happy. Because really, what better way to pick up new experiences than through travel?

So if someone asked you, “What does travel mean to you?” what would you say?

Your answer could win you an all-expenses-paid weekend getaway anywhere in the United States courtesy of the U.S. Travel Association. In honor of National Travel & Tourism Week (May 3-11), U.S. Travel is asking, “What does travel mean to you?” You can answer by submitting a short video statement by May 11.

They’re calling it the “What’s Your Travel Effect?” contest, and you can get all the official info here.

vacation better national travel and tourism week

The fact is, Americans do work hard. We have one of the longest workweeks of any industrialized country. And yes, work earns money, and money really can add to our happiness. But not through more and more stuff.

Work hard and get that car you’ve always wanted. Then take some time off, take it on the road and get back to your Travel Effect. Because the experiences and the memories we gain with travel don’t come with a limited four-year/50,000-mile warranty—they last a lifetime.

It’s hard to pinpoint what makes a vacation a happy experience. Is it the location you’re in? The people you’re with? The great weather? It’s certainly all of those things, but you may be surprised to learn that the all important factor is actually the kitchen!

Kitchen-Infographic-for-VB-blog

A recent survey* of 1,000 vacationers indicates an impressive 90 percent of respondents who had a kitchen on their last vacation said it improved their vacation experience.  Think about it—kitchens are a welcome option for families traveling with children, those who enjoy cooking, and anyone that wants to save some money.

While dining out is a treat many vacationers look forward to, being able to grab a snack or have a breakfast or lunch at your convenience throughout your stay cuts down on costs and allows more time for other activities. It also allows for separate meal times for kids and adults, so  adults can enjoy “grown up” meals and conversation. Timeshare owners have known this for some time—and it’s one of the reasons they love their timeshare. What could you dream up with a timeshare kitchen?

* 2014 Leger omnibus survey

Kids love vacation because it means more days away from school. But if you think your kids aren’t learning on vacation, think again! In fact, there is proof that traveling kids are smarter kids. According to several studies that analyzed the impact of vacation on childhood learning, kids who travel with their family score higher on academic achievement assessment tests than those who don’t.

One study, from the U.S. Department of Education, explored whether going on a vacation, the number of days spent on a vacation, and places visited were linked to academic achievement in the areas of reading, mathematics, and general knowledge. The results revealed a significant correlation between academic achievement and taking a family summer vacation.

kids-learning-infographic

Family travel is a valuable part of a child’s education that “contributes to cognitive growth and stimulates a child’s sense of wonderment,” says Dr. William Norman, associate professor in parks, recreation, and tourism management at Clemson University in South Carolina. “Providing kids with the experience of travel broadens their horizons and opens up their minds to learning,” he says.

It also shouldn’t be a surprise to learn that adults who experienced educational trips in their teenage years were more likely to attend college and earn a higher income. According to a consumer travel survey conducted by the U.S. Travel Association and Travel Effect, learning-focused travel impacts academic performance and career growth. The data found that adults who took educational trips in their youth make 12 percent more per year and were significantly more likely to graduate from college than those who did not take such trips.

With summer quickly approaching, vacations are a strong reminder of why spending time together as a family has lasting benefits on mom, dad, and the kids in all aspects of their lives. Think about how your next vacation could transform how your child approaches learning, deepens their understanding of the world, and expands their career possibilities.

Need further convincing? Ask your kids!

The notion of unplugging while traveling seems tranquil to some people—while others say periodically checking work email reduces the stress of returning to an overflowing inbox. So who’s right?

It’s important to distance yourself from the clutter of everyday life while on vacation. Health experts say that frequent checking in with your life back home while on vacation does not help you relax even though it may ease your workload upon your return. And it certainly doesn’t help you reconnect with your loved ones or your traveling companions.

In fact, contrary to popular belief, Americans do know how to unplug, unwind, and rejuvenate on vacation. According to a survey of 1,000 vacationers, 75% of respondents don’t do any work on vacation (Source: The Research Intelligence Group 2013). And while you do see many travelers using their phones or other technology while on vacation, in most cases, it is for pleasure and not work—uploading vacation photos, finding nearby restaurants, or searching for tickets to a local museum.

If you’re unsure of how to take the first step of unplugging while on vacation, here are few hints to make your next vacation better:

  • Disconnect: leave work behind, especially your work-related technology.
  • Plan accordingly: let your work colleagues know that you will not be checking email or voicemail until you return.
  • Plan the right amount of time: you need enough time to relax, rejuvenate, and unwind. For most people, that’s a week.
  • Reconnect: encourage everyone in the family to put down their phones, laptops, and screens and reconnect with each other!
  • Create a memory: pick one activity to do together each day, take a picture, and hang it up in your office to remind you of a more relaxed time.

Do you often dream about where to go on your next vacation? Do past vacation experiences factor into planning for new ones? Do you value the benefits of taking a vacation? The concept of “vacationing better” sounds intriguing and can mean different things to different types of travelers. But to owners of timeshare, vacationing is thought of as a necessity, not a luxury.

Vacations reduce stress, rejuvenate relationships, and restore energy in our daily lives—which is precisely why nearly eight million timeshare owners place an emphasis of taking a vacation at least once a year. VacationBetter.org is about the many intrinsic benefits of vacationing and why experiencing a timeshare vacation may be right for you. After reading vacation experiences, tips from owners, and data from health and wellness experts, the decision is yours. We hope the website brings value to your next vacation.