What Makes People Travel?

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cross-roadsA question arose recently among my travel blogging friends “how can we make travel blogging bigger than travel blogging”. Many people follow sports weekly but follow travel only when they are planning a trip. For me this raised the question of “why do people travel?”

As a survey that came out recently told us, for many people a vacation is a quick drive to see relatives. Some people simply don’t travel and many of them don’t even like to travel. One of my two kids is studying abroad and the other prefers being home with things that are comfortable and familiar. For the stay at home type there is not a lot you can do as a travel writer or a travel blogger to get them interested in travel.

A majority of Americans take their family vacations by car (59 percent) while just over a quarter say they fly. Less than 1 in 10 take a cruise, with the balance going by bus or train.

A shocking one in ten respondents said they’ve never been on a family vacation. Roughly the same number of respondents said it had been more than 20 years since their last family vacation. All told, about a quarter of the respondents to the survey said they hadn’t been away with their families in more than 10 years — if ever.

– You got there how? New survey shatters a few myths about family vacations by Chris Elliott

Other people enjoy traveling but only have so much time available to travel. My show, the Amateur Traveler, targets those who want to travel but don’t know where they should go next and often don’t know how they can afford it or when they will have the time. I think it would be fair to say that more people listen to the Amateur Traveler on their commute or at the gym that in a tent biking across Turkey. For people in the dreaming of travel stage they are not sure where they are going yet so they have different questions. They are not yet asking “how do I get there?” or even  “what do I do there?” but are still asking “is this a place I want to go?”  But what makes someone think about travel in the first place?

  • For some people a picture on a friends wall or a movie set in a far off place will stir their wanderlust.
  • For some people a travel story told by a friend will make them wonder where they put their passport.
  • For some people a movie will transport them to a distant shore. This is why travel to France will increase after we see Tom Hanks standing in the Louvre trying to solve a mystery or we see Meryl Streep attending a French cooking school.
  • For some people a French dinner at a friends house will get them to buy first a French cookbook and then a France guidebook.
  • For some people a recording or a performance of an African choir will stir their soul as nothing short of Africa can do.
  • For some people a travel contest (that they won’t even win)  will stir their imagination about travel.

For many people travel is an issue of priorities. They intend to travel someday but “someday” has not yet come. They won’t travel until their aging parents pass away because they want to spend all of their vacation with them or they will travel after a friend dies early and unexpectedly as they come to grips with the realization that life is short and sometimes “somedays” never come.

Travel starts in the imagination and one of the best aspects of travel is the way it can awaken the imagination not just to new locations but to new points of view. How can we stir more people to travel? We can keep displaying up travel pictures, telling travel stories, creating travel videos, playing travel audio and even cooking from that recipe we picked op on our last trip.

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by Chris Christensen

Chris Christensen is the creator of the Amateur Traveler blog and podcast, and a co-host for This Week in Travel podcast.

3 Responses to “What Makes People Travel?”



I definitely get the wanderlust as I listen to travel podcasts and read travel blogs. Which means I pretty much have it all the time. 🙂

I’m currently organizing my photos for use in future blog posts, and preparing to record podcast eps, so I’m ready as ever for a trip. I can’t imagine life without travel.

Philip Robar


Traveled out as a child. (Military family.) Would only travel now as something to do with friends. Hope to go to Germany with them at some point.



I once picked a location after seeing photos of it – Scandinavia – and it lived up to the hype.

Just today a family friend commented that I’m a world traveler and my sister commented – well she’s single now’s the time to do it.

I grew up in a family where 2 took 2 cruises and visited Disney once, the rest of the time it was a road trip to another state. My sisters tend to do similar types of things, but travel is in my soul and it fights my homebody nature – travel wins!

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