Travel Farther To Be Happier, Says Science

In a new study conducted at the University of Vermont, researchers have discovered that the farther you are from home, the happier you are. The BBC reports that social scientists mined data from 37 million geotagged tweets sent by 180,000 people to determine the correlation between happiness and travel, in a science that The New York Times calls “twitterology.”

Tweeters’ happiness was determined by the frequency of positive words (“beach,” “beautiful,” “amazing,” etc.) and negative words (“no,” “can’t,” “never,” and so on) in their tweets. Some words carried more positive or negative weight than others. The researchers then compiled the data to give a measure of happiness based on a scale they call the hedonometer.

As it turns out, the farther people had traveled from their centralized location, which the researchers took to be the average between work and home, the happier were their tweets. Moreover, those who traveled farther afield on average were happier than all the others.

Despite the seemingly obvious correlation found in the results, the study pointed out that happiness might simply be correlated to a higher socioeconomic status. Those who can travel far and wide usually have the money and time to do so, after all.

But there’s also the question of whether we really are tweeting our genuine feelings when we’re traveling. Personally, I’ve never seen someone say that they are “col” – crying out loud – in my feed, while the lol-ers run rampant. I’ve met travelers who have been hit by cars, had every piece of their gear stolen and who have been caught in natural disasters, and they tend to put a positive spin on it, at least in social media. And just glance at the examples of the “13 Travel Tweeters That Drive Us Crazy” to witness the unmitigated affected gaiety. But we know that happy people deal with hardships better, so perhaps this preponderance of positivity is support for the findings after all?

[Photo Credit: nan palmero]

Australians Outraged Over Qantas Pork Ban

To the outrage of some Australians, pigs can no longer fly on Qantas airlines.

Many meat eaters can talk for hours about their love of bacon, but when the airline took pork off their menu the company’s Facebook and Twitter pages were bombarded with racist and religiously offensive comments.

On the heels of a new partnership with Dubai-based Emirates airline, Qantas removed the meat from some of its flights to appease those prohibited from eating pork due to religious restrictions. Even though Qantas maintains the elimination will minimally affect its menu, the usually happy-go-lucky Australians were outraged and many of them spewed their hatred via social media.

The airline has since pleaded with its followers to stray from posting such comments, and is removing anything that might be considered offensive. If things continue to escalate, the airline may even go so far as to disable commenting for a period of time.

[Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons]

Roger Ebert, Travel Writer

Last week, the world lost one of the all-time great film critics, when Roger Ebert passed away at age 70. He was mostly known for his love of movies and long career reviewing them at the Chicago Sun-Times, as well as his witty and wide-reaching Twitter feed. Roger was first and foremost a journalist, and he applied his curiosity and ease of language to many things, including travel.

If you can’t imagine how a film reviewer can effortlessly evoke a place, start with a piece he wrote in 2010 on a changing London and a particularly Dickensian hotel at 22 Jermyn Street, later published in a shortened form for the Guardian‘s travel section. He writes of his 25 years of being a guest at the small hotel, many encounters are positively cinematic, such as meeting the hotel’s owner, who appears in his guest room proffering a drink and colorful anecdotes about the neighborhood’s characters. He worries about what the loss of businesses like the former Eyrie Mansion (established in 1685) will mean for the neighborhood: “Piece by piece, this is how a city dies,” and paints a rich study of a place and time.Ebert delved deeper into London with another essay on walking around the city with his grandson in search of the perfect hot chocolate (“You always need a serious objective when you’re walking.”), the essay itself a later version of a book he collaborated on in the 1980s, called the “Perfect London Walk.” In the essay, he parallels walking, writing and travel. “When I set out I have a general destination in mind, but as I poke around this way and that, I find places I didn’t know about and things that hadn’t occurred to me, maybe glimpse something intriguing at the end of a street…”

Ebert’s life and career took him many places from a Chicago movie theater, including South Africa and France. He published a book on the latter about his film festival experiences in “Two Weeks in the Midday Sun, A Cannes Notebook.” You can read excerpts from the book online, which provide some fun details on the glitzy, star-studded event, as well insights about culture clashes and what such an event does to a place.

Ebert’s other passion came through in a plea for more Americans to travel abroad, where he also reveals his long-time friendship with Paul Theroux, the famed travel writer. They debate the idea that travel broadens your mind and Ebert settles on the idea that “the way you broaden your mind through travel is to stop traveling and stay somewhere,” a good argument for slow travel. While it might be nothing new to the readers of a travel blog, imagine how it might have changed the thoughts of someone just looking for a review of the latest Bond film? Every traveler (and moviegoer, to some extent) can relate to “The bittersweet pleasure of being somewhere where nobody knows you, and nobody can find you.”

Ebert’s last movie review was, appropriately enough, for the film “To the Wonder,” which spans several continents, but he finds it to be covering a landscape between the characters rather than places. A few days before his death, he announced that he’d be scaling back on his regular reviews, taking what he called “a leave of presence.” This is a concept I’d like to keep in mind for my next trip: slow down, focus on what’s truly inspiring, reflect on the great moments of the past, and come back refreshed and recharged. Or at the very least, I’ll take time out to see a movie.

[Photo credit: Associated Press]

13 Travel Tweeters That Drive Us Crazy

With more than 50 million active users logging in every day, it comes as no surprise that Twitter has its fair share of obnoxious tweeters. The travel industry is far from exempt from annoying irritating users, so (just for laughs!) the Gadling team put our heads together and profiled 14 of the most eye roll-inducing tweeting types in our feeds. That’s not to say our bloggers haven’t been guilty of these moves in the past, but if you find yourself being frequently unfollowed on Twitter, it might be because you fall into one of these categories.

1. The Complainer

The security line was SO long, I almost missed my flight to #Amsterdam!
Why It’s Bad: Shut your face. You’re going to Amsterdam. It’s an airport, so expect lines. No one wants to follow your dramatic saga.
2. The No-Context Vacationer
Coffee in this town is just so damn amazing. #loveithere
Why It’s Bad: WHERE. Where are you? Unless you expect all your followers to keep track of exactly where you are at all times, this is just plain unhelpful.

3. The Junket Junkee

Middle-earth is surprisingly nice this time of year. #visitgondor
Oh my goodness, I think I just saw a great eagle! #visitgondor
Have to poop. #visitgondor
Why It’s Bad: Overaggressive press-trip promotion is not only damaging to your own reputation, but being too eager to heap glowing praise doesn’t exactly shine positively on your host, either. Be transparent about your connections or risk looking like a stooge.

4. The Humblebrager

Time to do some shopping… I haven’t got a thing to wear for my skiing trip to Vail!
Why It’s Bad: Did you see what this Twitter user did there? By complaining about not having any clothes, they also got to sneak in a mention about their upcoming trip. Oh, poor them!

5. The Hashtagger

#OMG. Check out my #awesome blog on #traditional #food in #Antigua, #Guatemala. #lp #matador #travel
Why It’s Bad: Spewing a string of hashtags makes your message hard to comprehend, and adding a tail of even more to every post causes most people to tune out. Instead of getting more attention, you’re just causing people to skip over your tweets. #Stop #it #already.

6. The Compulsive Retweeter

No example needed.
Why It’s Bad: An unnamed speaker at TBEX last year once described retweets as “the world’s biggest circle jerk.” Although that’s a pretty crass way to put it, it’s absolutely correct. Support things you really like, but don’t waste a disproportionate amount of time trying to get your handle in other traveler’s activity feeds. If your entire stream is an @reply or a retweet, it’s time to start making the conversation.

7. Chatty Kathy

Red Flags: #CruiseChat, #FNI, #FriFotos, #NUTS, #TL_Chat, #TourismChat, #RTW, #wwkds, etc.
Why It’s Bad: Networking is great, but attending every travel chat known to man is just clogging everyone’s feed. Especially when you share both questions and answers (plus a barrage of replies to other chatters). Let the moderators moderate, and join in when you have something valuable to share.

8. The Disguised Publicist

@Traveler Be sure to stop by the amazing swim-up bar at @HotelAwesome on your trip to the #Cancun! The margaritas are fabulous!
Why It’s Bad: Increasingly, publicists have been disguising themselves as travel writers and giving out “help” to those on the road. Writers and bloggers should be wary of this kind of advice, and publicists should be transparent with their connections to clients.

9. The Crowdsourcer

Just got home 2 days ago & I already have a serious case of #wanderlust. Where should I go next?
Why It’s Bad: Listen, maybe it’s time you bought a guidebook. At the very least, get a little more specific with your asks, cause your tweets are completely unhelpful.

10. The Helicopter Mom

Johnny has been loving our trip to Disney World! Here he is with Mickey:
Why It’s Bad: Unless you’re a family travel writer, posting tons of pictures of your children on Twitter is kind of creepy. We want to follow you, not your toddler.

11. The Forever Instagrammer

No example needed.
Why It’s Bad: Not everything needs to be documented in a photo, and putting a filter on your photos doesn’t necessarily make them good. Especially when you post obviously staged photos of your feet in the sand.

12. The Twitterizer

Good morning Twitterverse! Any tweeple want to tweet up and chat about my twip to Twitzerland?
Why It’s Bad: Please, don’t make me explain how absolutely annoying this is.

13. The #FF

#FF #travel love goes to @UserA @UserB @UserC @UserD @UserE @UserF @UserG @UserH @UserI @UserJ @UserK & @UserL!!
Why It’s Bad: Supporting people you enjoy following is great, but belching a list of users in hopes they’ll all share the tweet is disingenuous. And then when that gets turned into a chain letter of praise, let the unfollows begin. If you don’t believe us, read this Oatmeal comic.

If you don’t already, follow @Gadling on Twitter, where we make our share of own mistakes as well. Keep track of all the Gadling bloggers, too.

[Photo credit: Flickr user joelaz]

Arthur Frommer Will Again Publish Guidebooks

Last week, I wrote a lengthy tribute to guidebooks and the sad news that Frommer’s guidebooks would cease publication, and many readers here and on Twitter shared in my grief. Well, it’s time to remove the black armbands, because Arthur and his trusty guides are back! Don’t place your orders just yet; there’s still a lot up in the air, but the key news is that Arthur Frommer has reacquired his name brand from Google and confirmed to the Associated Press that he will resume publishing print, e-book and web content under the Frommer’s name. Google has retained all of the original Frommer’s content for its own Google+ and Zagat products, so Frommer will need to create all new content and find a new publisher for future books. Skift News has speculated on a few possibilities, as well as provided more details on the Frommer’s-to-Google migration. Long live Arthur Frommer, we look forward to what’s to come next.

Fear not, guidebook lovers; print isn’t dead.

[Photo credit: Darien Library on Flickr]