What motivates you to travel? Is it that dream of being able to lounge by a pool while a resort staff caters to your every whim? Is it so you can slow down, clear your head, and reflect on your life? Is it so you can come back and tell your friends about the cool things you got to do?
If you’re like most TripAdvisor travelers, your answer is: None of the above. In TripAdvisor’s latest edition of TripBarometer, exploring the Psychology of Travel, more than 53,000 travelers around the world weighed in on what motivates them to travel, and 7 in 10 (71%) said that, above all, their goal is to enhance their perspectives: They want to have unique, interesting experiences so as to enrich their understanding of the world.
Of least interest are vacations that are about poolside pampering or self-reflection or bragging rights: Only about one in 10 survey respondents said their vacation motivation is to feel looked after and taken care of (6%), to feel special and spoil themselves (10%), to take time out to think and regain control of their lives (12%), or to have enviable experiences (14%).
The second highest priority for travelers worldwide—after enhancing their perspectives—is to achieve a feeling of liberation: Six in ten travelers (62%) say their goal is to let go, feel completely carefree, and enjoy life to the fullest. The third highest priority? It’s a tie between immersion (47%) and relationships (47%). Travelers want to immerse themselves in the local culture and meet new people and create memories. At the same time, their vacation goal is to enjoy special moments with their loved ones and strengthen those relationships.
While travelers’ strongest motivation—to widen their horizons—is true for almost all nationalities, there are four countries where it’s actually liberation that matters most: Japan, Thailand, Greece, and Turkey. There are other interesting differences among nationalities too. Americans are particularly eager for trips that will help them feel close to loved ones and strengthen family bonds. Russians are the most keen on enviable experiences that make them feel special or spoilt. Austrians and Swiss want time out to think. Italians and Brits prioritize feeling taken care of. And it’s also interesting to see which countries care most about widening their horizons: It’s Kiwis and Canadians who most want to enrich their understanding of the world.
What does this mean for the types of hotels travelers choose? Survey respondents say that hostels and boutique hotels are most likely to offer an experience that enhances their perspectives. That’s probably true, but every once in a while, after all that horizon widening, it sure is nice to recuperate in a poolside lounge chair with a resort staff to bring you pina coladas.