We've probably all thought the thought at some point. Especially on that last day of vacation. It doesn't matter how good the vacation was, how far away you traveled or how many weeks you had off. How could the holidays go by so fast? It was only recently that we left home? Is there a universal trick that makes the feeling stick around longer? It actually turns out there is a trick. A trick that I probably unknowingly discovered many years ago, but which I have rarely reflected on. The feeling of discovering new places makes time seem longer.
What do I mean by that? Do you need to travel away to make time seem longer? No not at all. The psychologist Mark Wittman has written a book on the subject: Felt Time: The Psychology of How We Perceive Time. In the book, Wittman claims that time feels longer if you experience memorable occasions and the more new memories you can save, the longer time feels. By going back to places you've been before, you create fewer new memories and the vacation feels shorter. A good example of this is a weekend in a big city you have not been to before. You rush away on Friday night, go to a museum, eat at a restaurant, shop a little and stay in a hotel and go back on Sunday with the feeling that you've been away for a long time! Compare that feeling to a weekend when you just sat at home on the couch a little hungover and watched TV series. The difference is huge.
But how can you make time feel longer WITHOUT having to go away every weekend? Well, by deciding to discover something new every weekend. Isn't it time to try a new grocery store? Book an untried restaurant? Or maybe take a walk in an area you don't usually walk in? It is easy to get stuck in the same pattern, which does not create new memories. But that doesn't matter, you might be thinking now? It's quite cozy and safe to always shop at the same store, isn't it? I agree with. It's cozy. But there is one thing that I often think about. You can have plenty of a lot, but time is usually not what most people say they have plenty of. Time is the scarce commodity of our time.
This weekend we made a quick trip to Skåne and all Saturday we rode around Österlen among historical places, castles, beaches and cozy cafes. It had been years since we had been to Ale's stones and I can't even remember if I had ever been to Glimmingehus before, but that even day made it feel like the whole weekend was as long as a week. Everyday life suddenly felt far away. Lots of new memories were made and time felt longer.
However, there is one thing that, according to Wittman, can speed up time. One thing I can sometimes be way too good at. Planning. When you plan, your thoughts are already in the future and you think more about the next step in your planning than living in the present, which makes it feel like time goes by faster. Planning a little is OK, but don't plan minute by minute. Leave room for spontaneity, and time will feel longer.
So, in summary. If you want time to feel longer:
- Dare to discover new places - both in your everyday life and when you are on holiday
- Do not plan in detail - detailed planning makes time go faster.
- And remember: Still, replays are never as good the second time around :)
Have you been here? What did you think of the destination?
Travel blogger, gastronaut, photographer and family adventurer with over 55 countries in his luggage. Eva loves trips that include beautiful nature, hiking boots and well-cooked food. On the travel blog Rucksack she takes you to all corners of the world with the help of her inspiring pictures and texts.