Tight travel budget? Adhere to the 'peak-end' rule.

Carefully manage the 'peak' and the 'end' of your vacation, and fill the rest of the trip with low-cost activities, Hamm writes.

Gary Hershorn/Reuters/File
A boy does a headstand at sunset on Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro in this December 2012 file photo. Use the 'peak-end' concept when planning your travel and you will save money, Hamm writes.

The “peak-end” rule is a tactic that can not only maximize the value you get out of your vacations, but it can maximize what you get out of almost anything in life. It pops up again and again in everyday life, from the plotting of movies and television shows to how meals are served at restaurants.

The idea behind the “peak-end” rule is that when you think back to a past event, you generally have the strongest recollections and feelings about two elements of that event: the “peak” and the “end.”

The “peak” is usually the moment where you had the strongest response (either positive or negative) to whatever is happening. For example, you might remember a trip where the “peak” was visiting a national park you’d always dreamed about.

The “end” is how you felt about how the trip concluded. For example, you might remember dinner on the final night of the trip or something else that occurred on your vacation. 

Here’s an example. For me, the “peak” of our honeymoon in the United Kingdom was the afternoon we spent visiting Parliament and Westminster Abbey on foot. The “end” of our honeymoon was the final night, where we stayed in what amounted to a bed and breakfast far away from the city center.

When I think of the trip, those are the first two things I think about, and they’re the strongest memories. They’re both happy memories, too, so they fill the trip with a very positive sentiment when I look back.

So, how can you apply this idea to frugal travel planning?

The first – and most obvious – part is to simply carefully manage the “peak” and the “end” of your trip.Have one day that’s a home run – full of the experiences you’re sure you’re going to love. Save one or two wonderful things for the very end of the trip – a meal at a great restaurant, perhaps, or a final sight to see on your way home.

As your memories fade, those two events will be the ones you recall the best.

Then, fill the rest of the trip with low-cost activities. Visit free things to fill other days. Go about them at a slow pace so serendipity will strike.

It might occur that one of those ordinary days ends up being the “peak” – but if that happens, that’s a goodthing. It means your vacation must have been an incredible one.

In our recent travels, we’ve mostly avoided higher-priced areas except to fulfill the “peak-end” rule. On our Seattle trip just last summer, our “peak” was the day spent in the city center with our kids – they still speak of going up to the top of the Space Needle and the various other things we did that day. Our “end” was my sister-in-law’s wedding. Those are the two things we recall the most from that trip – and most of the rest of the vacation was spent very frugally.

Use this concept when planning your travel and you will save money.

This post is part of a yearlong series called “365 Ways to Live Cheap (Revisited),” in which I’m revisiting the entries from my book “365 Ways to Live Cheap,” which is available at Amazon and at bookstores everywhere.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.

QR Code to Tight travel budget? Adhere to the 'peak-end' rule.
Read this article in
https://www.csmonitor.com/Business/The-Simple-Dollar/2012/1228/Tight-travel-budget-Adhere-to-the-peak-end-rule
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today
https://www.csmonitor.com/subscribe