Travel Motivation and Psychology: Why Do We Travel?

What drives you to travel? It might be a desire to see the world, or just to get away. You may like meeting new people and experiencing new cultures. Or maybe you just have a permanent case of wanderlust, and find yourself forever dreaming of the next great adventure. Or even a combination of everything above.

Some of the most fond stories people have throughout their lives are of holidays and trips they have taken. Having grown up around avid backpackers most of my life, and being one myself, I have seen the impact travel can have on a person’s life. It can even completely change their outlook on life and the way they approach their day to day.

But what exactly is it in our psychology that makes us yearn to touch our feet on unfamiliar ground? There are many studies that have claimed it is a matter of learned behavior versus the intrinsic desires that make us human.

However, I think there is a simpler information. Speaking from personal experience, here are the reasons that myself and many people I know have chosen to take the leap and travel around the world.

A Need To Gain Perspective


I have a friend who goes on a major backpacking trip once a year. He spends about three months away, and spends the rest of the year savings and preparing for that trip. I have communicated with him as he made his way through Eastern and Western Europe, Australia and now he is on his way to Asia.

Of all of his travels, his favorite locations were those where there were a large number of global trekkers to meet. I remember speaking to him when he got back from Budapest, where he spent an entire month of his trip.

According to him, meeting people from everywhere had shown him both the differences and similarities between cultures. His close group of friends he gained had been from Israel, Ireland, England, Canada, the US, Spain, Peru and New Zealand.

Through these people and their experience, he said he gained a perspective that was totally new. Now, when he approaches his life back home, he manages to take those lessons along with him. Nothing seems as stressful, with what he has seen and accomplished, and the people he has met.

A Personal Challenge


The first time I went on a trip on my own, I was terrified. I prepared for it for years, saving up little bits of money when I could until I had enough to finally go out to see the world. But it took a real effort to push myself to actually go through with it.

It was through a personal challenge that I found the bravery to book my trip and head out. It was that same challenge that got me through the obstacles that arose on that first international trip. A travel experience that included having my bag stolen, nearly getting mugged in the street, a rather spontaneous jump to another country just across the border of where I had been planning to spend my time, and a hundred positive and negative happenings.

To this day, I feel empowered remembering that first trip. Every year, I set a new travel challenge, big or small. Each time I meet a milestone I feel like I can do anything. Which, as it turns out, I can.

To Find Yourself

Find Yourself

Another friend of mine that I met while on holiday in Odessa has an amazing story to tell. At the age of 18, she had been through more than most would in a lifetime. Every time she made a little progress in her life, the universe seemed to throw her something that set her three steps back. It was discouraging and depressing, and she thought she would never get out of it.

Instead of heading to university to study in a program that she didn’t know if she wanted, she decided to travel. Selling everything she had but her clothes and a few keepsakes, she added it to her meager savings and took off.

While traveling through South and Central America, she learned more about herself than she ever thought she would. By the end of the year she knew what she wanted to study, and she had dozens of experiences to help keep her grounded.

She and I met on her second trip through South America, which she took twenty years later to remind herself of a year that changed who she was. Her’s is my favorite travel story to this day.


People travel for many reasons. But just the feeling you get when you see a travel video or think of a beloved trip is enough to show the impact such things can have on our lives.

Why do you travel? Let us know in the comments!

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