Why are we traveling?

Have you ever asked yourself for the reasons of your travel? They should fit in one of the following categories (actually, for most countries you will have to state which kind of travel you are doing at immigration, so you better think about it ;-):

  1. business/study trip
  2. meeting friends and family
  3. vacation

Well, these categories might be a littles broad. I thought the same and looked for deeper insight. My interest covered especially the third point, since the reason for business travel and visits of friends are somehow obvious. So, the question is why are we traveling for vacation even when we could stay at home and relax there?

The Ontario Ministry of Tourism surveyed travelers for the benefits they sought from pleasure or vacation trips. There were five statements identified on which more than 50% of the respondents could agree on:

  1. To relax and relieve stress
  2. To get a break from your day-to-day environment
  3. To create lasting memories
  4. To enrich your relationship with your spouse/children
  5. To have a life with no fixed schedule (to do what you
    want, when you want)

Another interesting question is whether we travel as „tourists“ or „travelers“ – a topic Robert Shepard researched. He presents as a definition of „tourist“ to be „mainly middleclass sightseers who traveled in search of authentic experiences they could not find in their lives by temporarily escaping from a modernity that produces homogenization.“ However, also „travelers“ are searching for authenticity, for the unique experience, for „it“. Shepard presents a funny example how this could end: „.. not to mention the contemporary backpacker (although in the case of backpackers, a fundamental contradiction confronts their quest: they learn of the unspoiled through guidebooks marketed to people who do not want to be tourists and who desire to visit non-touristic places, with the result that when they arrive in these places they find countless copies of themselves—anti-tourists armed with identical copies of a Lonely Planet guidebook that promises each of them a place of purity).“ Finaly he gives the example of visiting the Great Wall, and the feeling that through its „torusitification“ its visitor is missing the „real“ Wall. A feeling Ishared, when I visited it three weeks ago. It felt more like visiting an amusement park.

Already Johann Wolfgang Goethe thought about the aims of traveling: „“Man reist nicht um anzukommen, sondern um zu reisen“ – „You are not traveling to arrive but to travel“ (there seems to be a quote from Goethe for any topic ;-))

2. Mai 2008

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