New ITC book Why Travel? explores the fundamental motivations for travel and how we can travel better

 image of book cover, book title Why Travel? Understanding Our Need to Move and How it Shapes our Lives

The Independent Transport Commission is delighted to announce publication of the book Why Travel? Understanding our need to move and how it shapes our lives, released in July 2021 by Bristol University Press. The book is one of the major outputs from the ITC’s Why Travel? research project, which explores the fundamental motivations behind human travel with the aim of improving policy making on this crucial human activity. At this time of pandemic-related travel restrictions and environmental crises, such an examination of human travel is vital.
The book, edited by ITC Director, Dr Matthew Niblett, and ITC Commissioner, Kris Beuret OBE, brings together insights from experts across the sciences, arts and humanities. Together, the chapters examine key travel motivations, including the importance of travel for human well-being, and how this can be reconciled with challenges such as reducing our carbon footprint, adapting new mobility technologies, and improving the quality of our journeys. Alongside chapters by distinguished authors, the ITC is pleased to include an insightful foreword by Tony Wheeler, co-founder of Lonely Planet. The book has been received enthusiastically by prominent figures in the travel and transport field and is described as “a must-read for transport professionals and anyone interested in travel” by Lord Adonis, the former UK Secretary of State for Transport.

The book begins with discussion of the biological and psychological bases of human travel behaviour, looking deep into our evolutionary past to examine how the development of bipedalism may have impacted our minds, and addressing the importance of travel for physical and mental health, healthy aging, creativity and curiosity. Chapters on philosophy, sociology, religion, anthropology and art/literature examine the social and cultural roles and understandings of travel across the globe, from ancient times to the modern day. The chapter on economics looks critically at the classical and still influential economic framing of travel as a derived demand, and offers some alternative economic understandings that may help us account more fully for the true value of travel. Other chapters look at specific types of human travel including tourism and exploration, and what fundamental motivations these fulfil. The book also turns to the future, examining technological developments, the role of travel within placemaking, and the crucial question of how travel can work within the increasingly urgent environmental challenges that we face.

The book shows how our travel choices are shaped by a wide range of social, physical, psychological
and cultural factors, which have profound implications for the design of future transport, travel and land use policies. Offering thought-provoking and practical new perspectives, this fascinating book will be essential reading for all those who have ever wondered why we travel and how it relates to our fundamental needs.

For more information, including a full contents list and information on ordering, please see here.

Reviews of Why Travel?

“This book is required reading for all of us in transport, and the much wider number of people curious about human behaviour and its consequences. Much in it is new, and all of it is fascinating!”
Sir Peter Hendy CBE, Chair, Network Rail, ITC Patron, and former Commissioner of Transport for London.

“A must-read for transport professionals and anyone interested in travel. Trains, planes, bikes are agents of social change and self-realisation, not just means of getting from A to B. This book tells that story.”
Lord Andrew Adonis, former UK Secretary of State for Transport

“This is the book I’ve long wanted to have written, but never had the time to accomplish. Fortunately, it has appeared anyway! Its multidisciplinary perspectives are indispensable to a richer understanding of why we travel.”
Professor Patricia Mokhtarian, Georgia Institute of Technology

“After a year of staying home, many of us are desperate to get travelling – this book explains why and provides food for thoughtful policy-makers.”
Lilian Greenwood MP, former Chair of the UK’s Transport Select Committee

“COVID-19 has shown us all how much we value travelling. This interesting study will help us think about the future of travel as we approach this new phase of the pandemic.”
Lord Patrick McLoughlin CH, former UK Secretary of State for Transport

“After a year of lockdowns, and with walking now recognised as the perfect exercise, this timely book looks at the cultural and social meaning of movement, and how our joy in the journey, shapes people, places and our planet.”
Mary Creagh, Living Streets and former Shadow Secretary of State for Transport