HUFFINGTON POST
09/16/2011 11:36 am ET Updated Nov 16, 2011

Return Trip Effect: Why The Journey Back Seems Shorter (VIDEO)

Ever wonder why the trip back feels faster than the trip out? You might think it's down to familiarity having already completed the journey once already.

NPR cites the example of astronaut Alan Bean, who when returning from a trip to the moon in 1969, commented "returning from the moon seemed much shorter," even though the outbound and return trip covered identical distances.

However, a study completed by Dutch scientists now suggests that familiarity may not be the cause of the 'Return Trip Effect' - citing a mismatch of expectations as one possible cause.

Newser's take on the study is that outbound travelers are too optimistic, making the trip seem longer than expected. On the return journey, people psychologically prepare for a long trip, making the journey feel shorter.

USA Today quotes Niels van de Ven, the study's lead author: "People seem to be too optimistic about the initial trip, so it feels longer than one expects."

However, don't get ready for an easier commute home every day, as MSNBC points out that there are some instances when the return trip effect doesn't apply.

One is when a route becomes very familiar, such as a daily commute, because your expectations of the travel time become more accurate.