Category Archives: Psychology of Travel

Travel History: Marco Polo, the World’s First Great Travel Writer?

Marco Polo explorer from Venice China the Travels of Marco Polo Description of the World

The Italian Marco Polo is probably the world’s most famous traveler and one of the world’s first travel writers. The famous Venetian is believed to have left Venice at age 17 to embark on a 24-year journey through the Persian Gulf and Asia, spending much of this time in China in the court of the great Mongol emperor Kublai Khan. Polo’s book, Description of the World, offered one of the first detailed descriptions of the then mysterious eastern cultures to Europeans and would even inspire Christopher Columbus. The world that Polo described seemed quite strange and unbelievable to most readers, and even today many historians question the veracity of many of his stories. Some historians even doubt whether Marco Polo existed at all. Intrigued? I was very interested in learning more about this famous man and will share what I found during my research about the man, his amazing travels, Read the Rest…

Travel Research: Slum Tourism in South Africa

slum tourism in South Africa

Today I would like to focus on the topic of slum tourism in South Africa, also known as township tourism. Slum tourism is defined as the practice of travelers visiting poor urban areas of the global South to view its impoverished conditions and understand more of the lifestyles of local inhabitants. Organized slum tourism tours exist around the world in cities such as Rio de Janeiro, Mexico City, Cape Town, Johannesburg, Cairo, and Mumbai. Slum tourism is a controversial issue and I have written about the different viewpoints and potential pros and cons of this practice in a previous article. This post will specifically focus on the research of a fellow researcher and blogger, Jeanett Andrea Søderstrøm who runs a blog called The Gipsy Giraffe, writing about her travels, passions, life, and research. Although born in Norway, her holiday travels to South Africa and a township tour in Cape Town Read the Rest…

Travel History: The Tale of Thomas Cook, Father of Modern Tourism

Thomas Cook Thomas Cook & Son travel history

Do you know who Thomas Cook was and what contribution he made to the history of travel? Perhaps you have heard the name, seen it on the travel agencies that still carry his name, or maybe you’ve even taken a Thomas Cook tour. But my guess is that, like me, you don’t know too much about the man or how he fits into the history of travel. Thomas Cook was a passionate man who was born into a world where most working class people worked long 6-day weeks and never traveled more than 20 miles from their home towns. Thomas would begin work at age 10, laboring in a vegetable garden for 1 penny per day; but with a lot of determination and hard work, this working class man would eventually build one of the largest travel companies in the world. This post is dedicated to the memory of Thomas Read the Rest…

Travel Research: How Much Travel Stress Do People Experience on Vacation?

Most people plan trips and take vacations to get away from the stress of home and work; however, very few people take travel stress into consideration. While traveling can indeed be an escape or break from the day-to-day routine, planning and taking a trip can also be quite stressful. Where should I go? How do I get a visa? Do I have enough vacation time at work? Do I want to dip into my savings to stay in a nice hotel or find a hostel? How am I going to manage public transportation? How are the children going to handle two weeks of traveling to new places?  Can I survive a week in the car with my parents? Not to mention potential travel hiccups along the way such as bad weather, traffic jams, strikes, cancelled flights, language-related miscommunications, and illness. Some people can plan and take a trip with very Read the Rest…

Travel History: Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland Race Around the World in Less than 80 Days

Nelly Bly Elizabeth Bisland

In November 1889, two young female journalists, Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland, set out for the journey of a lifetime—both with the goal to try to travel around the world in less than 80 days. These two very different women were sponsored by competing newspapers to beat the record of Jules Verne’s fictional Phileas Fogg from his novel Around the World in 80 Days. Such a feat had never been undertaken before and it was not even known if it was indeed possible at the time. Certainly many people at the time believed that it was impossible for a woman to do so. This race around the world made daily headlines and people from around the country (and indeed the world) closely followed these women’s journeys around the world. I stumbled across the names of these two American women on a random Internet search and became intrigued as I had Read the Rest…

Travel Research: Are Travel Guidebooks Still Useful in the Digital Age?

travel guidebooks

As more and more people use the Internet to do travel research, are travel guidebooks still useful and relevant? Do we need travel guidebooks anymore? With giant travel websites like Tripadvisor and Expedia, it made me wonder how much people use guidebooks these days. Recent research suggests that although most people are using the Internet as a source of travel information, most people still rely on travel guidebooks during their travels. Let’s take a look at a research article in the Journal of Travel Research. Research Study: A 2011 published research study collected information from 196 overseas travelers from Hong Kong. The majority of travelers were traveling for leisure purposes. Travelers completed surveys about what information sources they used to help them plan their trip prior to travel, what sources they used while traveling, and what sources they used after travel.  They were also asked to rate how influential each travel Read the Rest…

Travel Research: How do Locals Feel about the Practice of Slum Tourism?

slum tourism

Have you ever heard of slum tourism? This is a tourist practice where travelers visit poor areas of the global South to view the impoverished conditions of local inhabitants. Organized slum  tours exist around the world in cities such as Mexico City, Johannesburg, Mumbai, Cape Town, and Rio de Janeiro. The worldwide success of the film Slumdog Millionaire significantly increased the number of Western travelers signing up for tours which promise to guide them through the stench-filled slums of Mumbai, India. While the practice of slum tourism is certainly not a new concept—for instance, 19th century wealthy Londoners would sometimes go “slumming” in the poorer neighborhoods of London—there has been an increase in the number of organized tours worldwide which has fueled discussion about this controversial practice. A Brief Summary of the Arguments For and Against Slum Tourism Arguments in Support of Slum Tourism Profitable business practice that employs locals Read the Rest…

Psychology of Travel: What’s Up with the Travel Research Posts?

psychology of travel

Yesterday we posted our first travel research article that can be found in the Psychology of Research section of the website. But what the heck are these posts about, why are we writing them, and how do readers know if this information is even accurate? A reader –Jackie H.—just posted a question on our previous travel research article Travel Research: Nontravelers Live More Sedentary Lifestyles Compared to Travelers  asking us “What is up with the travel research articles and where do you find this info? Will these become regular features?” We appreciate this feedback and hopefully this post will better explain the purpose of these posts! What’s up with the Travel Research Articles? Good question, let me explain.  I (Jessica) am a researcher and psychologist during the day, and part of my job involves staying up-to-date on research in the area of psychology. This provides me with free access to Read the Rest…

Travel Research: Nontravelers Live More Sedentary Lifestyles Compared to Travelers

travel research

Did you know that travelers exercise more and engage in more activities even when they are not traveling than nontravelers? Recent research suggests that nontravelers live more sedentary lifestyles than travelers even when they are “at home”.  Let’s take a closer look at a research article in the Journal of Travel Research. Research Study We’ll explore a recently published article on the behavior of travelers versus nontravelers: Litvin, S., Smith, W., & Pitts, R. (2013). Sedentary behavior of the nontravel  segment: A research note.  Journal of Travel Research, 52, 1131-1136. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0047287512457265  How the Research was Conducted The researchers compared activities of a random sample of 60,000 Americans who completed a mailed survey. Of these, 79% were classified as travelers (reported having traveled for pleasure or vacation in past 2 years) and 21% were classified as nontravelers (reported not having vacationed in the past 2 years). They were all asked how frequently Read the Rest…