If your heart beats a little faster when you buy a plane ticket for a time zone or two away, you’re not alone. A study published in the Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science found that “the far‑off destination has an allure about it simply because it is far off.” The farther away people perceive a destination to be, the more appealing it becomes. So, for someone who lives in Vancouver, Whistler’s slopes may not offer the same sense of escape as, say, the alpine vistas of Mont Blanc or the Matterhorn.
We go to great lengths to get away from it all, but how far we’re willing to travel often depends on what we’re after. How long it takes to reach a destination can sometimes be measured by how badly you want to get there.
Desire can not only trump distance, it can also alter our perception of it. Researchers at New York University conducted a series of experiments to test this theory. In one, pedestrians were asked to rate how positive they felt about both their origin and how they expected to feel at their destination and to estimate how much of the journey they had completed. Those with positive feelings about where they were headed thought they were closer to reaching their destination.