There are many ways to enhance your vacation, and to keep wonderful memories of your vacation fresh in your mind after the vacation is over. Taking photos of your vacation is probably the most familiar example. But, while affective, and certainly something to continue doing, it may not actually be the best way.
Our sense of smell is closely linked with memory, probably more so than any of our other senses. Most of us are able to think of smells that conjure particular memories; the scent of pine evoking Christmas, for example.
One reason this might be has to do with the way our brains process odors and memories. Smells get routed and analyzed through one’s olfactory bulb, which is part of the limbic system, the emotional center of the brain. It’s closely connected to one’s amygdala and hippocampus, brain regions that handle memory and emotion.
When a smell enters the nose, it travels through the cranial nerve through the olfactory bulb, which helps the brain process smells.
So now that you understand the science behind smell and memory, here is a great way to use this phenomenon to your advantage, and particularly, to enhance your vacation as well as the memories after.
Before your next trip, either buy a bottle or acquire samples of a cologne or perfume that you have never worn before but that you find to be pleasing, and bring that with you on your next vacation. You might even decide to bring a scent that has some relation to the destination you’re visiting, such as bringing a scent with heavy jasmine notes on a vacation to India, or Bali… Lemongrass notes in Vietnam… Or even better, buy scents on your trip to India where essential oils are a great bargain.
While on your adventure, you’ll enjoy smelling great, but what’s more, later when you’re back home and you have a day where you decide to wear the scent, you will likely be cognitively transported to wonderful happy memories of your vacation. In fact, a breeze may pick up your own perfumed scent from your skin throughout the day, carry it to your nose, and you may find yourself suddenly inexplicably happy or relaxed, or an image from your past trip may pop in your mind.
After you start wearing the scent more and more, you may not always have connotations of your vacation when you’re wearing the sent. But, you’ll be surprised that even years later you may wear the scent and suddenly have a flashback and emotional connection to the vacation you took when you first wore it.
Vacations are often multi-sensory experiences, and with a little planning, you effortlessly put your sense of smell to work on your brain. If this isn’t enough reason to make perfume part of you packing list, there is the added benefit of smelling good for your travel companions as well. After all, no one likes a stinky traveler.