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Andrea Romano
November 14, 2017

Travelers spend hours, days, weeks, even months planning their dream vacations. From when to go to how to get there to where to stay to what to see, there's a lot to plan out.

But even the best-laid plans don’t always add up to the best vacation ever. So, what does?

The answer is a combination of finding authenticity and taking full advantage of the experience, according to Utrip CEO, Gilad Berenstein, the CEO of artificial intelligence trip planning platform Utrip.

Related: Half of Married Couples Have the Same Argument While on Vacation

Berenstein became interested in what makes for a great vacation while traveling through Europe. “I was doing that same top 10 cookie cutter thing that everyone who has been to Europe has done,” he told Travel + Leisure.

At the University of Washington, he says he worked with graduate students at the School of Psychology to dig deeper into the topic. Their research, including a literature review and a survey of 485 participants found that having a great or a lousy vacation came down to two key factors.

The first was built around having an authentic experience: Most survey participants, according to Berenstein, recounted that the best trips involved something exciting and spontaneous.

Related: This Is Where You Should Go Based on How Many Vacation Days You Have Left This Year

“People talked about the hidden restaurants. They talked about that random concert they went to. The picnic they had. The person they met who took them somewhere,” he said. “It’s not necessarily unplanned ... but it was really unique and special to that destination.”

A bad trip, according to the survey, boiled down to waste: a wasted experience, wasted money, or just wasted time.

“The interesting thing is that [the two things] are sort of opposite sides of the same coin,” Berenstein said, adding that his research led to the Utrip app, which uses algorithms to personalize travel itineraries.

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