Motivation for Travel | Theory: Plog, Maslow, Hudman, Krippendorf, Nickerson, General Theory

  • Post last modified:13 January 2023
  • Reading time:33 mins read
  • Post category:Tourism

What is Motivation for Travel?

Travelers are motivated to satisfy a need, and they have a perception of what will satisfy their needs. At the same time, travelers have a perception of the attractions of the destination and whether the attractions satisfy their needs. If both sides are agreed, travelers are motivated to visit that destination.

The Definition of “Motivation” A motivation is a wish that prompts people to take action, work hard to achieve a goal, and satisfy a certain kind of need. For example, when a person is hungry and there is a need to appease his or her hunger, a motivation to search for food is formed.

Therefore, people’s activities of all kinds are driven by their motivations, and they govern people’s actions.

Travel Motivations

  • Why do we go travelling?
  • Why do we choose to travel to a certain place?
  • Why do we participate in a certain travel activity?

These are essentially questions about tourists’ travel motivations. Travel motivations directly
spur people’s travel activities.

A travel motivation is the psychological need of a person to participate in travel activities, and
this kind of need will directly promote travel motivation; if you have motivation, a travel
action will result.

However, in real life, the process from the formation of a travel motivation to the occurrence
of an actual journey, action is a complex one.

During this process, when people have a need to travel, they must also have corresponding
individual factors and external environmental conditions, such as physical fitness, financial status,
weather and transport, etc Factors that Influence Individual Travel Motivations

10 Motivation for Travel

These are the motivation for travel which discussed below:

  1. Economic Capacity
  2. Spare Time
  3. Psychological Factors
  4. Group, Family and Social Atmosphere
  5. Relaxation and Health
  6. Exploration and Risk-Taking
  7. Spirit and the Appreciation of Beauty
  8. Social Interaction
  9. Business Affairs and Official Matters
  10. Family Responsibilities

Economic Capacity

Economic capacity is the basis on which all needs are formed. Because travel is a kind of consumer behavior, the ability to pay the various types of charges involved is of course necessary. When a person’s economic income can only support his or her basic living needs, he or she will not form a motivation to go traveling.

As an economy develops, in countries and regions where citizens’ income increases, the tourism industry becomes more developed, and the number of people who go traveling climbs, or drops when the opposite applies.

Spare Time

Spare time refers to the time that people can freely allocate to taking part in pastimes and entertainment or anything else they enjoy participating in after their daily work, study, living, and other compulsory time commitments.

Therefore, spare time is an important condition for the realization of travel activities. In developed countries, labor protection laws are relatively strong and workers have statutory holidays, both of which ensure that people can form travel motivations.

Psychological Factors

Travel motivations are a form of individual psychological activity and are inevitably influenced by various aspects such as individual interests, hobbies, profession, attitude to life, understanding of the surrounding environment, level of education, and family.

Social Factors that Influence Travel Motivations. It is only when the economy of a country or region is developed that it will have enough resources to improve and construct travel facilities, develop tourist attractions and promote transport development.

Road transport facilities, accommodation, catering, and service standards at a destination are important factors in the tourists’ choice of destination, and also affect their formation of travel motivations to a large degree, especially for tourists with relatively high hospitality expectations.

Group, Family and Social Atmosphere

Group or social pressure can also influence people’s travel motivations. For example, travel activities organized by enterprises, or travel awards, etc. encourage people to form their own travel motivations involuntarily, and travel activities subsequently take place.

Social surroundings can also influence people’s travel motivations. Colleagues, friends, and relatives travel behavior and travel experiences can always influence others, or lead to the formation of comparative psychology, making people form identical travel motivations, and leading to the formation of a kind of imitative travel behavior.

Relaxation and Health

People who have stressful or monotonous daily lives or work participate in travel activities such as relaxing travel and recuperation holidays in order to relax and loosen up, as well as keeping healthy and finding entertainment.

For example, natural scenery, historical monuments, parks, the seaside, hot springs recuperation areas, etc., are all tourist choices for this type of travel motivation.

Exploration and Risk-Taking

Travelers who are curious, knowledgeable, and adventurous, such as the Himalayas climbing parties and North Pole explorers.

Spirit and the Appreciation of Beauty

For travelers with this kind of motivation, their travel activities are mainly directed at distinctive, beautiful things and phenomena in the natural world, as well as to visiting museums, exhibition halls, and famous tourist attractions, and participating in various types of theme-based travel activities, etc.

Social Interaction

People all go traveling to meet friends and relatives, to find their roots and search for their ancestors, and to get to know new friends, etc.

Travelers in this category require that the personal relationships they maintain in the course of their travels be friendly, cordial, and warm-hearted, and want to care for Religious Faith People who have a religious faith go traveling to participate in religious activities and take part in religious studies, and those who travel driven by religious faith motivations do so mainly to satisfy their own spiritual needs. Religious travel is divided into two categories: pilgrimages, and missionary work.

Business Affairs and Official Matters

People go traveling for various types of business and official activities, such as special trips to buy goods or diversions to a certain place to go traveling; business trips to a certain place to take part in academic observation, communicate, etc.

Travel activities participated in by groups, government delegations, and business associations, etc., that go to a certain place for discussions, etc.

Family Responsibilities

Because they are busy at work, people will normally neglect to take care of and look after their family members and friends. For these people, they go traveling to satisfy a responsibility or obligation to their parents, wife or children, or to relax and have fun with friends.

Therefore, every summer, the number of family-based tour groups will increase greatly.

Plog Theory

Based on Plog’s theory, travel motivations are related to a very narrow spectrum of psychographic types:

  1. Educational and cultural motives to learn and to increase the ability for appreciation, scientific research; trips with expert leaders or lecturers.

  2. Study of genealogy such as visits to their ancestor’s homeland to trace their root.

  3. Search for the exotic, such as the North Pole and the South Pole, the Amazon, etc.

  4. Satisfaction and sense of power and freedom such as anonymity, flying, control, sea travel, fast trains.

  5. Gambling – Las Vegas, Atlantic City, Monte Carlo, Bahamas, Puerto Rico.

  6. Development of new friendships in foreign places.

  7. Sharpening perspectives such as to awaken one’s senses, heighten awareness.

  8. Political campaigns, supporting candidates, government hearings.

  9. Vacation or second homes and condominiums Near-Allocentric Motivations.

  10. Religious pilgrimages or inspiration.

  11. Participation in sports events and sports activities.

  12. Travel as a challenge, sometimes a test of endurance such as exploring mountain climbing, hiking, diving.

  13. Business travel, conference, meeting and conventions.

  14. Theatre tours, special entertainment.

  15. A chance to try a new lifestyle Midcentric Motivations.

  16. Relaxation and pleasure travel just for plain fun and enjoyment.

  17. Satisfying personal contacts with friends and relatives.

  18. For health reasons such as to change the climate, sunshine, spas, medical treatment.

  19. The need for a change for a period of time.

  20. An opportunity to escape from life’s problems.

  21. The real or imagined glamour of the destination.

  22. Appreciation of beauty such as national and state parks, forests, lakes, wilderness areas, canoe trips, ocean shores.

  23. Sensual indulgence such as food, comforts, luxuries for the body, romance, sexual.

  24. Enjoyment, rest, relaxation.

  25. Shopping such as souvenirs, gifts, expensive possessions like cameras, jewels, furs, cars, antiques, art.

  26. Joys of transportation – cruise ships, gourmet meals, buffets, comfortable trains, buses, airplanes, autos.

  27. Pleasure of pre- and post-travel includes planning the trip, anticipation, learning, dreaming. family or personal matters.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Maslow (1971) distinguished five different levels of psychological needs ranging from physiological needs to self-actualization. According to his theory, the satisfaction of people’s basic needs is a prerequisite for the satisfaction of the higher needs.

Maslow argues that all behavior is motivated by psychological needs, for behavior serves to fulfill those needs physiological needs:

  1. Psychological Needs
  2. Safety Needs
  3. Personal Interaction Needs
  4. Esteem Needs
  5. Self Actualization Needs

Psychological Needs

These are needs required by humans to sustain their existence and prolong their lives and are the minimum basic needs, including needs relating to food, water, oxygen, sleep, a place to live and warmth, as well as clothing, food, shelter, mobility, sex, and other psychological functions.

If these needs cannot be fulfilled, human existence becomes a problem.

Safety Needs

These are needs that represent human desires to protect their own bodies and minds from injury and to guarantee safety and stability. For example, needs relating to health, a safe and orderly environment, a stable career, and the avoidance of unforeseen accidents.

When a person’s physiological needs have been fulfilled, he or she will want to fulfill such safety needs.

Personal Interaction Needs

Personal interaction needs include the need for love and a sense of belonging. The need for love refers to the fact that people all hope to achieve harmonious relationships with friends and colleagues or to maintain friendships; everyone wants to love others and be loved.

In addition, the need for a sense of belonging refers to the fact that people all want to have a sense of belonging, and want to gain the acceptance of a certain group and to be included and valued by it, as well as for its members to care for and look after each other.

Esteem Needs

These are human desires to gain other people’s respect, a satisfactory status, due human rights, reputation, and prestige, and to realize a certain social position.

Self Actualization Needs

These are human desires for the need to give full play to one’s own potential and to realize one’s own ideas and aspirations, including the seeking of knowledge, the appreciation of beauty, creativity, achievements, etc.

Maslow considered self-realization to be mankind’s highest level of needs, which signify a full, enthusiastic, wholehearted experience of life.

Hudman’s Motivators of Travel

These are some hudman’s motivators of travel theories:

  1. Health
  2. Sports
  3. Pleasure
  4. Religious and Spiritual Appreciation
  5. Professional and Business
  6. Friends and Relatives
  7. Roots Syndrome
  8. Esteem


People travel for improving their health. They would go for leisure and medical treatment to relax and entertain themselves. Natural landscapes, historical sites, coastline, spas, and resorts are the destinations of these travelers.

Curiosity People travel because of curiosity, inquisitiveness, and adventure. Politics, culture, public figures, physical features, and disaster would attract these travelers.


People travel for sports to release their pressure and fantasize about being an athlete. Being a spectator could experience the atmosphere of the competition, and have social contributions such as connecting with other audiences and meet new friends.


Vocation relates to pleasure because it could give routine life a break. People would try new things and participate in activities that would make them feel happy, such as visiting art museums, watching operas and gambling, etc.

Religious and Spiritual Appreciation

People travel for spiritual needs. They visit religious headquarters usually because of religious reasons. In this way, they could have a stronger belief in their religion. On the other hand, many travelers gain satisfaction by the appreciation of natural landscapes, art performances, and visiting museums and historical sites.

Professional and Business

People travel for business such as scientific expeditions, business meetings, conventions and education.

Friends and Relatives

People travel because they want to visit their friends and relatives; it shows their care of family and friends.

Roots Syndrome

People travel to trace the root of their family or the culture of their homeland. Pedigree research and hometown exploration are the common activities of these travelers.


Many people travel for gaining respect from others and a satisfying social status because one with plenty of travel experience and knowledge of different countries is usually admired by others.

Krippendorff Reasons for Travel

Research on reasons for travel uncovers an endless list of travel motivations. Apparently, people want to ‘switch off, relax’. They want to ‘get away from everyday life, ‘recover strength’ and ‘experience nature’ (Krippendorff, 1997). Krippendorff (1997) distinguishes eight reasons for travel:

  1. Recuperation and Regeneration
  2. Compensation and Social Integration
  3. Escape
  4. Communication
  5. Broadening of the Mind
  6. Freedom and Self-Determination
  7. Self Realization
  8. Happiness

Recuperation and Regeneration

People get tired during working weeks, and use vacations to replenish their ‘bodily and mental strength’.

Compensation and Social Integration

Tourism compensates for everyday social failure by presenting another world next to everyday dreariness.


Everyday life contains more and more aspects of stress; people want to escape from this.


Traveling abroad gives people a chance to gain human warmth, to establish contact with other people.

Broadening of the Mind

People want to satisfy their interests in other cultures and nature.

Freedom and Self-Determination

Tourists are in a position to largely make up their own rules; they are free from any obligations.

Self Realization

An unfamiliar and strange environment offers a great chance for investigating and enhancing the Self.


Vacations are highly associated with joy and pleasure, so happiness becomes a reason for embarking on a holiday trip.

Travel is a complex social action, and tourists use to travel to satisfy their own various needs. At the same time, under the influence of external environmental conditions, motivations always change as the environment changes.

Therefore, the same tourist’s motivations for going on different trips will differ from each other. At the same time, a lot of travel motivations do not just involve one motivation but may include various kinds of motivations.

Nickerson’s Travel Motivations

Furthermore, following the above reasons for travel, tourism seems to serve psychological needs. Nickerson (1996) argues that deep psychological needs are the basic motivators for tourism. She uses Maslow’s “Hierarchy of Needs”, a theory about psychological needs and motivation to describe people’s motivation to travel.

Nickerson applied the Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs to describe travel motivations as below:

  1. Physiological Needs
  2. Safety Needs
  3. Personal Interaction Needs
  4. Esteem Needs
  5. Self Actualization Needs

Physiological Needs

This can explain why people go to the seaside or a mountain retreat to avoid the heat; these are all actions required to be performed by certain physiological conditions inside the human body.

Safety Needs

To travelers, safety needs are expressed in terms of the safety of people’s life, property, and psychology. They hope that in the course of a journey, no vehicle or boat accidents occur, they don’t get sick, they’re not robbed, they don’t have things stolen, and that they safely complete the entire journey, etc.

They also hope to achieve a psychological feeling of security. For example, they hope there is no political upheaval or war in the country they go to and that social order is sound there, etc.

Although the natural scenery and human cultural landscape of some countries are extremely rich, tourists would lose the motivation to travel there if the country has been involved in a long period of upheaval or war.

Therefore, the need for safety is one of the most important factors that influence people’s travel behavior.

Personal Interaction Needs

Tourists’ personal interaction needs have diverse characteristics. People who go traveling all want to be able to travel together with close friends, get to make new friends in the course of their journey, understand different cultures and customs through interaction with local people, or enhance their friendships by visiting friends and family.

Therefore, travel is one of the most effective activities for people to make new friends, meet up with old friends around the world, and promote contact between people.

Esteem Needs

A person who has experience of frequent travel and knows a lot about different countries and regions is often admired and respected by others, which helps to fulfill the need to be respected as an individual.

Self Actualization Needs

Travel can involve a search for stimulation, challenging oneself, and acquiring knowledge about new things, and this kind of travel involves expressing one’s own self-value to fulfill self-actualization needs. For example: climbing Mount Everest.

The Push-and Pull Theory In 1977, Dann, a U.S. academic, put forward the push-pull theory of travel motivations. He considered that travel behavior was influenced by both push factors and pull factors. People travel because they are “pushed” into making travel decisions by internal, psychological forces, and “pulled” by the external forces of the destination attributes.

Travel Personality and General Personality Theories

  1. Travel Personality
  2. General Personality

Travel Personality

As stated before, motivation, opportunity, and ability are not the only determinants of tourist behavior. Personality influences traveling behavior too. For example, people who want to climb Mount Everest, in general, have certain personality traits in common.

Most of those people will have a tendency to sensation seeking, for climbing mountains is performing risky behavior.

General Personality

The personality dimensions used are commonly used in personality psychology. Therefore it seems relevant to explore a few basic aspects of these theories. Four personality dimensions are used to describe tourists in order to indicate motivations for different types of travel:

  1. Activation: A guest’s level of excitement, alertness or energy.
  2. Variety: The need for change or novelty.
  3. Extraversion or introversion: The extent to which a person is outgoing and uninhibited in interpersonal situations.
  4. External or internal locus of control: The way people perceive whether or not they themselves are in charge of the happenings in their lives.

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