Everyone travels for different reasons. Some like to relax by the beach or pool with a cocktail, others create itineraries meticulously organized with museums, historical landmarks and tourist hot spots, and if they’re on the more adventurous side, a good number of travelers simply strap on a backpack with no set plan and wander wherever their journey takes them.
I would say I’m a good combination of all of the above, but one of the things I love most about traveling is being able to see and experience firsthand how other people live. If you’ve never lived in another country, it may be hard to imagine a way of life so different from your own. After making my way from country to country, I became fascinated by what each culture values in terms of happiness.
Here are the world’s 10 happiest countries in 2013 according to The World Happiness Report.
In Denmark, everyone has access to free healthcare, gender equality is prioritized, and families are able to take advantage of 52 weeks of parental leave (compared to just 10 weeks in the United States).
Norway ranks highly in life expectancy, health, freedom and social support. It is also ridiculously safe – crime, murder and incarceration rates are low. Plus, the country is an explorer’s dream; it’s known for its breathtaking scenery and even has an “allemannsrett” law, which allows people to freely roam any uncultivated land.
The Swiss enjoy excellent healthcare, invest in high quality education and has low levels of stress and depression rates. They also value talent and innovation (ranking 1st in the world for innovation and 3rd for retaining talent), which inspires citizens to start their own businesses.
The Dutch value freedom of choice over every life decision. Whether its religion, life partners, sexuality, career or even soft drugs, people in the Netherlands can almost do whatever they want.
Sweden is super eco-friendly and has a great public transportation system. Similarly to Denmark and Norway, Sweden also ranks highly in healthcare and benefits like parental leave and paid vacation time. Swedes have a strong love for the outdoors and nature as well, with many of them owning houses in the countryside.
Canada has a strong healthcare system, high educational levels, government transparency and good economic freedom. Toronto and Montreal makes the country culturally rich as well with bustling music, film and art.
Finland was voted one of the world’s most peaceful countries and offers more equal opportunities for women. Like other Scandinavian countries, Finland has a strongly competitive economy and healthcare system. The Finnish diet is super healthy as well, consisting mainly of fish.
Austria has one of the most cultural histories in Europe. Birthplace to many classical musicians (including Mozart), Vienna was also a center for philosophy and science.
Iceland has one of the world’s highest life expectancies, lower taxes, great healthcare and education systems, and gorgeous scenery.
Australia has some of the lowest unemployment levels in the world, reaps the benefits of booming tourism due to its beautiful beach (and of course, the Great Barrier Reef), high levels of immigration, and some of the best levels of quality of life.