About the Project

Why is the ITC carrying out this far-reaching study?

It is clear we still understand too little about the motivations that underpin travel, in spite of its critical importance for our whole way of life and our future. After the COVID19 Pandemic, during which travel has been severely restricted, these questions have taken on an even greater urgency. As the world looks to recover from the pandemic, we have an opportunity to create better transport policies, and understanding the fundamental motivations that drive travel will be essential.

Travel is a crucial element in human well-being, the economy and the natural and built environment. And yet too often transport is considered in isolation from other areas of study. The ITC has therefore commissioned this research project to investigate why we travel, using insights from all fields of human knowledge.

Through research and the development of a national debate, we hope to generate a better understanding of the forces that dictate our travel choices. These insights we hope will contribute towards better policy making, by providing a fresh understanding of how we should think about travel and transport. Improved knowledge of why we travel can help us nudge the population into to making better social and environmental travel choices and will also help transport providers address the real movement needs of the public. The uncertainties caused by current environmental and health crises, and myriad technological developments, mean that a better understanding of travel has never been so pressing.

What Next?

A distinguished team of experts kick-started the project by writing topic sheets on the theme of ‘Why Travel?’. These were launched by the Secretary of State for Transport at a special event in October 2012. From this starting point the project has expanded to include themed workshops and debates, this blog and website, and a book published by Bristol University Press.

The book, which offers thought-provoking and practical new perspectives from experts across the arts and sciences, can be purchased here.

“A must-read for transport professionals and anyone interested in travel.” Lord Adonis, former UK Secretary of State for Transport

Our goal is to engage the public in thinking more deeply about the reasons behind our travel and the questions this raises. Please explore the website fully and don’t forget to: