Salt air, grass and freshly brewed coffee evokes happy holiday memories

The smell of salt air, grass and a freshly brewed coffee reminds us of being away, enjoying the great outdoors and generally enhancing their wellbeing, new survey findings have found.

The survey, called Scents of Freedom from the Caravan and Motorhome Club, highlights the benefits of how smells evoke certain memories to stir the senses and create a feeling of wellbeing, particularly when spending time outside.

Respondents were asked to smell six scents and vote for their most favourite smell that brought back holiday memories.

Salt air came out top with 665 votes, followed by grass (380 votes) and freshly brewed coffee (351) respectively.

Memories of beach walks, fresh air, sun cream and crabbing came to mind for many, as they smelt the salt air fragrance, while grass evoked memories of a freshly mowed lawn, dog walks and walking holidays, camping and being outdoors.

Professor Barry Smith, from the Centre for Olfactory Research and Applications said: “Unlike our other senses, smell connects directly to centres of memory and emotion in the brain.

"The direct route to the amygdala lends smell its power to stir our emotional response and remind us of early pleasures.

"Scent occupies the space between us and is hugely beneficial to our health and wellbeing.

"Without always knowing it, the smells we encounter make vital contributions to awareness of ourselves and our surroundings.”

Smith, who took part in the project, said the salt air fragrance had floral notes, linking to descriptions of fresh, light and ethereal feelings.

He added: “Just catching the merest whiff of a scent from our past can take us right back to a childhood holiday.

"Spending time outdoors by the sea, in forests and by mountains can lift our mood and the smells of these places establish and consolidate memories that are easily evoked when we encounter certain scents.

“The third favourite of freshly brewed coffee was less coffee shop and more home-brewed, with toffee and caramel notes, so it is no wonder the scent brought to mind the first campervan coffee in the mornings.”

According to a recent Centre of Economics and Business Research (Cebr) report commissioned by the Caravan and Motorhome Club, 81.2 per cent say being on holiday improved their well-being.

In addition, 91 per cent of Caravan and Motorhome Club members recently surveyed on what they liked about touring holidays said they loved spending time outside, with 85 per cent feeling less stressed and 81 per cent liked being more active.

Up to 64 per cent of adults who own or want to buy a leisure vehicle say that their level of exercise increases when on holiday.

Compared to only 46.5 per cent of the wider adult population.

Nick Lomas, Director General of the Caravan and Motorhome Club, said: “We predict a rise in Club members taking a staycation this year in order to save money and take advantage of the great outdoor landscapes the UK has to offer.

"Our Scents of Freedom survey aims to encourage more people to get outside when on holiday and take in the smells of the great outdoors and nature, to improve wellbeing and make happy holiday memories.

"It is great to see that so many respondents’ holiday memories involve being outside, exploring nature and doing all those things you expect from a camping, caravan or motorhome holiday."

Other smells in the survey included paperback, with vanilla notes that received 302 votes, thunderstorm with petrichor (295) and dirt, with camphor notes (168).

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