three happy women friends walking on road

Why experiences are better gifts than things

Feb 12, 2024
Reading time: 3 minutes

The research backs up what we probably already know: when we pay for experiences, we end up happier than when we pay for things. So why not insert that insight into your gift giving? We briefly explain the research, then suggest some great adventure trips!

No matter how glittering the jewellery, fast the car, old the antique, or kickass the shoes, we as humans get used to things. What was blooming exciting to buy or receive, soon loses it lustre. As the months and years go by, we're just no longer as excited about it as we were at the moment of acquisition.

But experiences lead to memories, and memories can last a lifetime. So we believe it's better in to invest in new and special experiences rather than items. And this means gifting an adventure is a far superior gift to an item that can rust, break, grow threadbare or be stolen.

Fill your life with experiences, not things. Have stories to tell, not stuff to show.

Two young men sitting on a rock at the coast

You remember what you did, with whom, and not what you owned

The material–experience paradox

Admittedly, an object or thing does tend to have a longer duration than an experience. While a sofa can be used for decades, a trip to Kilimanjaro that costs the same only lasts for several days. With this logic in mind, wouldn’t it make sense to go for the sofa? Not at all. The benefits and memories last way after the event is over and ultimately help to form our identities. Don't believe us? Science has evidence to back it up.

Two women on camels in the desert

Making memories with friends and loved ones is the way to go!

Research promotes experiences over things

Psychological studies have shown that experiences bring people more happiness than possessions.

Cornell University psychology professor Dr Thomas Gilovich conducted a 20-year study that analysed how product purchases versus experience purchases make us feel. The research indicates that purchasing trips or other experiences leads to greater happiness than buying a tangible possession.

What's more, the feeling of bliss associated with adventures lasts longer, too.

Most of the things we buy depreciate in value over time. But memories only grow in value over the years!

Mexico beach scene

Adventure holidays are fantastic investments

Dr Gilovich explains:

One of the enemies of happiness is adaptation. We buy things to make us happy, and we succeed. But only for a while. New things are exciting to us at first, but then we adapt to them.

Basically, we get bored of things.

BUT, experiential gifts give us memories that last a lifetime.

Dr Gilovich writes:

People often think spending money on an experience is not as wise an investment as spending it on a material possession ... But in reality we remember experiences long afterward, and we also enjoy the anticipation of having an experience more than the anticipation of owning a possession.

So it appears talking about and planning a trip is part of that memory-making adventure!

Campsite trees sunlight

Who would forget a camping adventure like this one?

Give the gift of an adventure!

The next time you're considering what to give a dear friend or family member for their birthday or Christmas, why not consider gifting them an adventure holiday instead of the latest gadget or a new outfit?

Reckon your dad would fancy exploring the wonders of Iceland with you? Can you see you and your bestie gorilla trekking for a week in Uganda? Or do you perhaps fancy a luxury glamping African safari with your partner?

Whatever the adventure and whatever the budget, get in touch so we can tailor-make the perfect gift together. 😊