Holidays the key to living longer

Last updated 05:00 07/07/2013

Illustration: Solovyova Lyudmyla

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Holidays are worth much more than sunkissed skin, a dodgy souvenir or a week away from work - the more you holiday, the longer you'll live.

That and a whole lot of other holidays tips have been published in a new e-book, co-authored by Otago University researcher and holiday expert Sebastian Filep.

He has the enviable job of researching holidays, and said several studies showed regular holidays were good for our health. They can help us be happier, sleep better, and stop the onset of depression.

The revelation that could result in Kiwis bombarding their bosses with holiday requests tomorrow is from a study of 12,000 men at high risk of coronary heart disease.

It found the more regularly they took holidays, the less chance they had of dying during the nine-year post-trial period. "Vacations may not only be enjoyable but also health promoting," the study concluded.

Despite knowing we need them, many people don't plan holidays that are actually good for them, said Filep.

His book, Vacation Rules, with co-author Rod Cuthbert, is based on analysis of published scientific research in psychology, tourism and leisure behaviour, as well as interviews with travellers. It also takes into account the authors' experiences.

In it there are 36 rules for a good holiday which includes tips like who you should go with, where you should go and not doing too much while you are there.

Filep said New Zealanders loved long-haul travel - in May alone New Zealanders left on 182,400 overseas trips - but he reckons we should consider going somewhere closer to home.

"Many of us tend to think that travelling to exotic long-haul destinations will somehow fulfil us more than travelling closer to home. This is false. We spend a lot of time planning our overseas adventures and in most cases spend a lot of money doing so. We don't think about our state of mind or what we truly need. A visit to your friends and relatives in Timaru combined with some local sightseeing may be just as psychologically rewarding as a 10-day trip to Europe," Filep said.

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