The Surprising Truth About Why We Travel

by Editor

Survey Reveals the Profound Reasons for Our Wanderlust

By Sahara Rose De Vore

Humans have travelled for exploration, discovery, commerce, and trade for centuries. In our modern era, travel has evolved into a pursuit of relaxation, entertainment, excitement, celebration, connection, culinary delights, and the thrill of exploring new places.

We see these motivations reflected in tourism marketing, with captivating images of cheerful shoppers, beautiful white sandy beaches speckled with palm trees, serene spa-goers at fancy hotels with cucumbers over their eyes, and happy families taking selfies against iconic backdrops and doing popular, adventurous activities.

But there are more profound reasons why we crave a getaway, such as a life transition or job loss, when we are experiencing grief, or when we want to spend real time with our family and loved ones.

The truth is that travel is emotional and personal.

It means something different to each of us. It is something that we turn to for healing, change, happiness, or fulfillment or to help us feel different than how we currently feel.

The absence of travel during the pandemic gave us time to rethink the value that travel has in our lives, and we hear more about responsible, sustainable, and eco-friendly tourism alongside “transformative,” “wellness,” and “mindful” travel. Even so, since the tourism and hospitality industry generally plays it very safe in its marketing, with messaging aimed at the surface-level reasons for travel, there remains a gap between what they show us and why we actually travel.

At The Travel Coach Network (TCN), we believe in the transformative and healing wonders that travel can do for us, which is why we always challenge travellers to think even deeper about why they travel, how travel can impact their lives, and how they use travel as a tool for reaching their goals.

Feeling it might be high time to inject emotion into every stage of the travel journey, we decided to survey over 400 of our community members and ask them why they travel on a deeper and more personal level.

The findings were fascinating.

The survey results showed that the top three categories for travel were:

  1. personal development
  2. to experience and learn about other cultures
  3. education and curiosity.

The respondents choosing personal development said that they travel for self-discovery and fulfillment, to find their most authentic self, for transformation, to boost their self-confidence, to feel empowered, to get out of their comfort zone, to challenge themselves, to live a more enriched life, for self-love, or to go on a spiritual journey. Travel can be an effective avenue for personal development on many levels when we allow it to be.

Our innate curiosity drives us to learn about others—how they live, what they do, and what they eat. This growing fascination with “immersive cultural experiences” reflects our desire to understand one another better and embrace the unfamiliar.

As a rich source of education, travel has the power to broaden our horizons, impart historical knowledge, and provide fresh perspectives, inspiration, and ideas. It’s no wonder that concepts like remote work, digital nomadism, sabbaticals, and worldschooling are gaining popularity as people seek more fulfilling experiences in life.

At the other end of the spectrum, the reasons for travel chosen least often included rest and relaxation, adventure, beautiful landscapes and scenery, to escape stress, and lastly, to create life-long memories—essentially, what is being marketed in tourism now.

What the survey as a whole reveals is that when we encourage travellers to delve deeper into their true motivations for wanting a trip, these purposes hold more profound significance than the conventional narratives suggest. Given the immense value that travel can bring our lives, we must reshape the conversation surrounding it to unlock the transformative, healing, and meaningful experiences we genuinely yearn for.

Sahara Rose is the Founder and CEO of The Travel Coach Network, a global organization that certifies travel coaches, and is a world traveller to 84 countries. A published author, speaker, and TEDx presenter, she has been featured in 175+ media outlets. In 2023, Sahara was named one of the Most Influential Women in Travel by TravelPulse.

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