What Makes a Trip Fun? Rich Sensory Environments Versus Deprived Sensory Environments

Sydney Harbor ferry leaves a wharf near the bridge
Sydney Harbor ferry leaves a wharf near the bridge

Holiday visits and winter getaways are coming soon, but will you enjoy yourself?

At present my husband Neil and I are in Queenstown, New Zealand. We are on a long-wished-for visit to my sister and her family as well as old friends in Australia. So far we have used every means of transport except bicycles, and stayed in every type of accommodation except Youth Hostels. Neil threatened me with a tandem bike ride this morning, but I was desperate for a rich sensory environment, and a tandem ride gets only a “fair” rating from me. During the past 3 weeks I have spent far too many hours in deprived sensory environments (DSE my term) as well as many happy hours in rich sensory environments (RSE). If you are planning a trip, there are certain to be DSE hours – airplanes are DSE for everyone! But do make sure to think about what type of rich sensory environment makes you really happy and arrange some for yourself while you’re away.

Rich sensory environments aren’t any different or any less enjoyable for your friends or members of the family. We all love the same kind of thing, but the rest of your family can probably be happy just looking at things. “Just looking” is clearly a DSE.

Here is a not at all complete list of RSE. You’ll think of more to suit your tastes:

  • wildlife and petting  zoos , where you can stroke the koala bear and have the parakeet hop on your finger
  • swimming, enjoying the Jacuzzi, or having a whole body massage
  • sitting in a garden with scented flowers and a surround-sound of bird-song , and maybe a cup of tea or coffee
  • walking beside the water and hearing the sound of the waterfall or the waves while the breeze lifts your hair and you can smell the sea or the lake
  • going to a great concert , or dancing to a live band
  • eating and drinking outside on a warm night with lots of smells and sounds
  • spending time and money at a holiday fair or any market with stalls where you can touch the displays and talk to the vendors
  • exploring a safe, small downtown area which has plenty of people around on your own (Be sure you know your address.)

If you have usable vision, the RSE will include seeing, but  usually it will be enhanced by touch, sound or smell.

Now for a few DSE

  • long car journeys
  • walking hurriedly on someone’s arm to get somewhere, usually a long way off
  • anything called sight-seeing when there is no commentary

My favorite RSE transportation: the Sydney Harbor Ferries – fast, with sun and wind and waves, snack bars, clean toilets, and the majestic Sydney Harbor Bridge, visible even with only a little sight

My favorite RSE accommodation: the Hahei campground in a beach cabin a couple of minutes’ walk through sand dunes with wild flowers and exotic  grasses  to the beach and the wide Pacific.

What are your favorite rich sensory environments? And when do you feel most deprived?

4 thoughts on “What Makes a Trip Fun? Rich Sensory Environments Versus Deprived Sensory Environments

  1. I like to help people and enjoy the feeling of not being helpless. The worst thing in life is to be or feel useless.

    1. I agree. Helping someone else is a vital part of happiness. The trouble is, it’s not always easy to find ways of being helpful. Sounds like another blog post!

  2. Rich for me is always being out in nature,summer or like today with snow falling and the cold air on my cheeks.
    Deprived is the opposite, stuck inside!

    1. Yes! Feeling the air moving on your face and hands is always great. Snow and rain are too – provided you’ve got an escape route.

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