Finland Is Giving Away Free Trips to Encourage Happiness

The world’s happiest country wants to spread the joy to a group of lucky applicants who will travel to Helsinki this summer.

A sailboat cruising by a brick building on the Helsinki archipelago in Finland

To better understand happiness, it’s best to go to the source: Helsinki, Finland.

Courtesy of Visit Finland

For seven years running, Finland has been named the happiest country in the world, according to the annual World Happiness Report. And now, the northern European country wants to help travelers discover their inner joy by better understanding why its residents have such a positive outlook.

Visit Finland, the country’s tourism marketing organization, this week unveiled a new “Happiness Hacks” initiative that will take place this summer in Helsinki.

From June 9 to 14, 2024, a lucky group of travelers will travel to Helsinki to learn “new happiness hacks that they can apply to their everyday life”—free of charge.

They will rest their heads at the chic boutique property St. George Hotel in the Finnish capital. From there, travelers will explore Helsinki’s dynamic nature and culture through activities such as wild swimming in outdoor watering holes, biking through the forest, and indulging in Helsinki’s vibrant arts, design, and culinary scene. They’ll be guided by a group of expert “happiness hackers,” locals who have found joy through movement, nature, and culture.

People in swimsuits relaxing outside the Lonna public sauna in Helsinki

Embrace relaxation and rejuvenation at the Lonna public sauna in Helsinki.

Courtesy of Visit Finland

Those interested in participating have until April 4, 2024, to apply—you must be at least 18 years old to apply, and adults can apply on their own or with one other adult. The application is a two-step process. The first step involves filling in a simple online form (with details such as your name, date of birth, and email address).

The second part is a social media challenge. Interested applicants are asked to create social media content on Instagram sharing their happiness hack and why they should be chosen for the in-person experience in Helsinki in June. Based on the submissions, Visit Finland will then select the participants. (Visit Finland details the social media challenge on its Instagram account.)

Two bowls of salmon soup on a white table cloth at Löyly, a sauna restaurant by the Baltic Sea

Nurture your body with salmon soup at Löyly, a sauna restaurant by the Baltic Sea.

Courtesy of Visit Finland

The World Happiness Report is based on data from the Gallup World Poll and ranks countries based on responses from residents who are asked to rate their current lives on a 0 to 10 scale, with 10 being the best possible life for them and 0 being the worst possible life. While the results are based on self-reported responses, according to the Happiness Report, several factors tend to contribute to higher ratings, including higher GDP per capita, a strong social support network of friends and family, higher life expectancy, greater freedoms, absence of governmental and corporate corruption, and charitable giving.

“Finnish happiness boils down to the simple things in life: connecting with nature, caring for one’s mind and body, and appreciating design and art around us. Happiness can be found in moments of pure contentment you get when the setting is just right: on a bike ride in a forest with the perfect playlist on or enjoying a post-sauna sausage while cooling off on a beautiful summer evening,” stated Heli Jimenez, senior director of international marketing at Business Finland, which is part of the Finnish Ministry of Employment and the Economy.

In Finland, it’s a common belief that happiness is “a skill that can be learned,” according to Visit Finland.

This story was originally published in March 2023, and was updated on March 20, 2024, to include current information.

Michelle Baran is a deputy editor at AFAR where she oversees breaking news, travel intel, airline, cruise, and consumer travel news. Baran joined AFAR in August 2018 after an 11-year run as a senior editor and reporter at leading travel industry newspaper Travel Weekly.
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