Human beings are dynamic and are always on the move to make discoveries not just here on earth but also on other planetary bodies. The deep history explorers who traveled from their home countries to make discoveries, and of course, the 1970’s exploration of the moon have witnessed this. The challenges facing traveling led to the invention of means of transport such as motor vehicles, trains, aircraft, ships, and other sea vessels.
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These innovations have enabled families to live far apart yet remain connected, employees to live far from their places of work yet remain updated on work’s happenings, and generally improved the lives of all societies in the world. People travel for different purposes or motives and objectives. For instance, people travel for leisure or recreation, adventure, research purposes, in search of job opportunities, among other reasons. There are thousands of travel journals, magazines, and websites providing information on various destinations all over the world. Travel guide companies, some of which operate online, organize, and facilitate domestic and international tours for tourists.
The travel industry is a major employer and supports the economy of many nations. Some people work far from where they stay, forcing them to travel either by rail or air. Others take it as a hobby, hence becoming part of their lives. By traveling to other cultures, one gets to learn different ways of tackling life issues and develops a wider perspective on life. Travelling has therefore formed part of the modern lifestyle, where different people and cultures are interconnected.
History of Travel
Chandra notes, “travel for trade was an important feature since the beginning of civilization” (1). In ancient times, explorers toured unexplored geographic areas and cultures for fame. For instance, “the Europeans tried to discover a sea route to India for trade purposes and in this fashion discovered America and explored parts of Africa” (Chandra 1). Without the technological advances of automobiles available today, it was dangerous to travel from one place to another. Challenges included the distance to be covered, difficulties in terrain, dangers from wild animals, severe weather, and limitations of the means of travel available back then.
Before vehicles and trains were invented, riding on animal backs, animal-pulled carts, or simply walking on foot were the only means available. According to Larbage, the English royal household reserved one hundred and eighty-six horses for carriages (41). Societies living near rivers, lakes, seas, or oceans devised ways of water transport. Records indicate that from 1350 efforts to build a railway system were underway, although it took several hundreds of years before an efficient system was fully established (Hylton 45).
King argues that James Clifford constructed the first railways in his mines to transport coal (71). The invention of motor vehicles in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries increased the ease with which one could travel to a certain destination and come back within a considerably shorter period. This increased the number of trips businesspersons made from their homes, expanding their markets, and building more business ties. This was improved more by the construction of railways, which brought a revolution in the number of passengers who could be transported per trip.
Modes of transport
People travel by road, water, air, or rail depending on the distance, cost, and the nature of their destination. Travel by sea is preferred by many travelers, especially tourists who embark on long holidays. It has the disadvantage of inflexible routes and being slow, although this may be an advantage to some tourists. Road transport is a convenient means preferred for a considerably short distance, ranging from a few to several hundred kilometers. Vehicles are considered efficient means of travel, but they lack flexibility (Cooper 278), as they are limited to uneven terrains and areas covered with large masses of water.
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However, road transport can be uncomfortable for long distances and is prone to delays due to traffic jams. Railway transport is faster than the road, safer and less prone to congestions. In developed countries, electric train transport is more environment-friendly hence, preferred to the road, although it has a limited number of routes and is more expensive. According to Yu, 4.38 billion passengers flew in 2009, a number which was 2.7 percent from the previous year.
Air transport is the most convenient for long distances. It is fast, safe, and solves the challenge of the terrain. One can find destinations to almost all parts of the world in the leading airline companies. According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), over two billion passengers traveled by the world’s airlines in approximately 28 million flights in 2006. Air transport is used for continent-to-continent travel or for travel across long distances within the same continent or country.
Reasons for traveling
Some relatives or friends may live in a different part of a country, continent, or world. One may therefore travel to visit those family members, whether for a specific purpose or for greetings. Visiting Friends and Relatives (VFR) is a general term used to describe this type of travel. Backer describes VFR as “a form of travel involving a visit whereby, either the purpose of the trip or the type of accommodation involves visiting friends and / or relatives” (369).
Other people travel purely for business reasons. Entrepreneurs and innovators may travel to different locations to see the challenges people face to generate new business ideas. Businesspersons travel to other countries in search of new markets in order to expand their businesses. This may include visits to familiarize with the new markets, determine their potency, and understanding the trends in such areas. Businesspersons travel to various cities for trade fairs to advertise their products and services to new and existing customers. Recording artists travel to different parts of the world performing to their fans not just for entertainment but primarily for making money.
Events such as football tournaments and athletics cause many to travel from all over the world to particular destinations. The participants, technical teams, and fans travel at different times in preparation, to participate, and to witness the events. The recent world cup witnessed many teams and millions of spectators travel to South Africa to witness the event. Cultural festivals in different cultures attract people locally and internationally. Initiation ceremonies, for instance, attract people who take part.
There are cities in the world, which are considered holy by some religions in the world. For instance, to the Muslims, Mecca is a holy city, and they have to visit it once in their lifetime. Christians travel to Israel to see ancient biblical sites such as the birthplace of Jesus, his tomb, among others. Christian missionaries travel everywhere around the world to spread the gospel, a practice also common in the Muslim religion, explaining its spread all over the world.
Tourism constitutes one of the major reasons why people travel. It is a situation where someone travels for recreational purposes. It requires identification of the site and preparation prior to the visit. It is an industry, which fetches substantial income for many countries. Students travel to other countries for further studies and education of better quality. Researchers may have to travel to different parts of the world to gather information in their areas of study. One may travel to other parts of the world with different cultures to learn different ways of living. Wars and civil unrest forced refugees to travel to neighboring countries or even further to save their lives.
This is witnessed all over the world, with the people affected having no other choice but to leave their homes. Natural disasters also force inhabitants of the affected places to vacate to other areas. Some countries have more job opportunities than others do. Jobseekers, therefore, travel to such destinations for employment. Countries with better payment for similar jobs as other countries also attract job seekers. Certain illnesses and complications may force a patient to travel abroad in search of medical assistance. This happens especially when the country of residence of the patient lacks the expertise for the disease in question. Government leaders travel abroad for political reasons. This includes paying courtesy calls to other leaders, attending meetings and conferences to form ties, and so forth.
Benefits of Travelling
People do not appreciate the value of something until it is taken away from them. Travelling offers a chance to be away from home, one’s family and friends, and the environment one is used to. This creates a platform for one to analyze the importance of the people in his/her life. Relaxation is another benefit one enjoys after traveling. Working on a tight and consistent schedule can easily lead to fatigue and stress. Travelling is one of the best ways to release stress and regain strength. It is also one of the best ways to improve family relations with other members. This is common for newly-weds as they go on a honeymoon immediately after marriage and later in life.
Going on a vacation for the whole family increases the time, which parents interact with their children, and this builds lasting memories, which hold the family together. Once one travels to other areas of the world, by sharing different ideas, his/her perspective on life is challenged and even widened. As seen above, traveling widens markets for businesspersons, gives scholars an opportunity to advance their studies, and creates endless possibilities for various careers.
By exposing them to challenges and situations they would otherwise not encounter at home, it improves their creativity and innovations by a great margin. Finally, the tourism industry is a major employer in many countries. It has improved the lives of many people economically by gaining directly from it through charges to sites, sales of artifacts, and accommodation fees, among other ways.
With the world becoming a global village, millions of people travel from one part of the world to another for various reasons. Some travel for leisure while others have no choice; circumstances force them. Modern innovations in infrastructure have made traveling easier and more convenient for short and long distances. The comfort and safety of the means of transport are factors considered by many travelers.
This influences where they will visit, the time of the visit, and even the expenses of such a visit. Traveling to some unsafe places, like war-torn countries, may require the use of bodyguards. The nature of the place of visit is also a factor. Some underdeveloped areas have poor infrastructure such as roads, limited or no communication hence influence the means of transport. This, in turn, may influence the cost of the travel. The nature of travel and the destination may require one to travel with a group. Moreover, people do not usually go on a tour alone but with others because the main purpose of such tours is to bond.
Backer, Elisa. “VFR Travel- An Examination of the Expenditures of VFR Travellers and their Hosts.” Current Issues in Tourism 10.4 (2000): 369. Print.
Chandra, Sarvajeet. History of Travel & Tourism, 2009.
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Cooper, Chris. Tourism Principles and Practice. 2nd ed. Harlow: Longman, 1998. Print.
Hylton, Stuart. The Grand Experiment: The Birth of the Railway Age 1820-1845. Ian Allan Publishing, 2007. Print.
International Air Transport Association (IATA). Fact Sheet: World Industry Statistics, 2010. Web.
King, Peter. “The First Shropshire Railways.” Early Railways 4: Papers from the 4th International Early Railways Conference 2008, (2010): 70-84. Print.
Wade. Medieval Travellers: The Rich and the Restless. London: Phoenix, 1982. Print.
Yu, Roger. “Several San Francisco airport limos not properly licensed.” USA Today. 2010. Web.