Vacations Over the Years: A Cross-Lagged Panel Analysis of Tourism Experiences and Subjective Well-Being in the Netherlands

Ondrej Mitas*, Maarten Kroesen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)
116 Downloads (Pure)


Tourism experiences, also called vacations, are known to boost subjective well-being, although it has been argued that the effects are primarily affective in nature and short-lived. We argue that this is a methodological artifact due to the brief duration—1 year or less—of almost all extant longitudinal studies of tourism experience effects. Based on broaden-and-build and personal resource theories, we hypothesize that tourism experiences contribute to both affective and cognitive components of subjective well-being over a multi-year timespan. Using random intercept cross-lagged panel models, we tested these hypotheses in 8 years of panel data based on a representative sample of the population of the Netherlands. We found both between- and within-individual effects of vacation frequency on cognitive as well as affective well-being. More frequent vacationers experienced higher life satisfaction and lower negative affect, while the average participant also experienced slightly higher life satisfaction and positive affect following a year with higher vacation frequency. Increases in life satisfaction also predicted more frequent vacationing in a following year, consistent with an “upward spiral” pattern of improving well-being based on accumulation of positive experiences, as suggested by the broaden-and-build theory.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2807-2826
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Happiness Studies
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Affect
  • Cross-lagged panel model
  • Experiences
  • Life satisfaction
  • Panel data
  • Tourism
  • Vacations


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