Snapping selfies and pics improves holiday memories by up to 40%

Breakthrough study from University of Texas researchers and HomeAway reveals science behind creating longer-lasting holiday memories


LONDON, UK, 15 November 2016 – Good news for selfie addicts, as a new study by leading holiday rentals site, HomeAway, reveals snapping selfies and pics whilst on holiday means holidaymakers are 40% more likely to remember their holidays than those who shun the camera.

For those who choose to share photos straight away on their social media channels, Instagram has been revealed as the best channel to use if people want to have clear memories of how they felt during their holidays. Travellers using Instagram were almost a quarter (24%) more likely than Facebook users to remember their holidays with clarity.

The global study interviewed hundreds of holidaymakers several times in the run up to, during and after their holidays, and whilst it found selfies are good memory aides, people who choose to take their work away with them and power up the laptop whilst on holiday are in danger of forgetting some of their precious holiday memories. Those who worked just one hour whilst on holiday were 43% more likely to have trouble remembering their trips than those who worked less or not at all.

“Let’s face it—we can’t holiday every day, which is why we need great memories to keep us connected to those who matter most,” said John Kim, president of HomeAway. “Every holiday is an opportunity to create great memories with the people you love. With this research, we wanted to answer the question, ‘What can we do to help our travellers make their holidays even more memorable?”

To better understand how the behaviour of participants impacted their holiday memories, HomeAway teamed up with a team of researchers at the University of Texas at Austin, led by renowned psychologist and author Art Markman. 

“The Science of Memories study is the first extensive examination of what makes holidays memorable,” said Art Markman, professor of psychology at the University of Texas at Austin and lead researcher on the study. “Before this study, most of the psychological research on holidays focused on the mood and health benefits of going on a trip. The opportunity to investigate the science of holiday memories with HomeAway has yielded valuable insights about how such memories are created, from the scientific impact of selfies to surprising news about who it’s best to holiday with.” 

People who travelled with a mix of family and friends remembered their vacations at least 20% better than those who travelled with just family, friends, in a couple, or alone. Better still, if someone is whisked away for a celebration such as a birthday, or if people are attending a friend’s wedding or hen/stag do, the research revealed they were 69% better at recalling the memories made on that holiday – and significantly better at recalling how they felt during important moments of their trip.

There’s something to be said for getting excited about going away, as holidaymakers who reported feeling happy and excited before their holidays were 73% more likely to have excellent recall of their holiday memories versus those who felt other emotions, including stress, frustration, or even calmness. 

“Some people love planning holidays – other people dread them,” said Markman. “This research suggests that there is a significant cognitive advantage for people who let themselves get excited prior to their trips: they remember their holidays better than those who don’t.”  

The HomeAway Science of Memories study surveyed hundreds of summer travellers from six countries: United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Spain, and Italy. Travellers were surveyed before, during, and after their trips with questions designed to measure memory recall. 


Notes to editors:

To access additional findings from this landmark study, please visit homeaway.com/lp/vacation-equation. For more information, please contact homeaway@hotwirepr.com

More info about the study:

A subset of travellers studied also downloaded an app which tracked the amount of time spent on their devices. In addition to being the first survey of its kind to investigate the factors that create lasting holiday memories, the HomeAway Science of Memories study is one of the first surveys to investigate the impact of technology usage on holiday memory formation. This research study was designed and conducted by HomeAway and researchers at the University of Texas at Austin. Hanover Research aided in the fielding and analysis of the survey. To highlight the survey findings, HomeAway today launched The Vacation Equation—an online resource intended to help travellers engineer their way to a more memorable holiday. It contains helpful tips and interactive insights from the HomeAway Science of Memories Study. To access additional findings from this landmark study, please visit homeaway.com/lp/vacation-equation.

About Art Markman

Art Markman, Ph.D., is a renowned expert in human cognition and behaviour and a professor of psychology at the University of Texas at Austin. Markman has published more than 150 scholarly works on topics in higher-level thinking, including the effects of motivation on learning and performance, categorisation, decision-making, consumer behaviour, and creativity. He spent nine years as executive editor of the journal Cognitive Science and currently serves as a member of the editorial board of Cognitive Psychology.

About HomeAway

HomeAway, based in Austin, Texas, is the world leader in holiday rentals with sites representing more than one million online bookable holiday rental homes in 190 countries, and is a part of the Expedia, Inc. family of brands. For more information about HomeAway, please visit www.homeaway.co.uk.

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