The Book

As part of the Why Travel? project we will be publishing a book, due for publication in July 2021 by Bristol University Press. See more information and order the book here.

“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 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.”
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, 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

About the book

Why travel? What motivations underpin the journeys we make? And how can we make decisions that improve our travel experiences?

Arguing that the desire to move is a purpose in itself, this book brings together leading experts to provide insights from multiple viewpoints across the sciences, arts and humanities. Together, they examine key travel motivations, including the importance of travel for human well-being, as well as how this can reconciled with challenges such as reducing our carbon footprint, adapting new mobility technologies, and improving the quality of our journeys.

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 policies.

Offering thought-provoking and practical new perspectives, this fascinating book will be essential for all those who have ever wondered why we travel and how it relates to our fundamental needs.

For more information and to order the book, please visit:


Kris Beuret OBE is the Director of Social Research Associates (SRA). She is a sociologist, previously an academic, and a member of the Independent Transport Commission and Highways England’s Research and Innovation Advisory Board. Kris has advised the House of Commons Transport Committee, TfL, the DfT and overseas governments on disability and diversity issues.

Dr Matthew Niblett is Director of the Independent Transport Commission and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. He oversees the ITC’s research portfolio and has presented findings from this research to Ministers and Parliamentary Select Committee enquiries. Matthew holds a doctorate from the University of Oxford and was a Senior Research Associate at Oxford’s Transport Studies Unit.


Foreword – Tony Wheeler

1) Why Travel? An Introduction – Matthew Niblett and Kris Beuret

Part I: Fundamental Motivations
2) Biological Perspectives on Travel – Charles Pasternak
3) Travel and The Mind – Tony Hiss
4) Philosophy and Travel: The Meaning of Movement – Matthew Niblett
5) The Economics of travel: it’s not the destination, it’s the journey – Matthew Dillon and Alexander Jan

Part II: Travel for exploration and knowing ourselves
6) Why Travel? The Sociological Perspective – Kris Beuret and Roger Hall
7) Religious and Spiritual Travel – Alison Kuznets
8) Travel in Art and Literature – Alison Kuznets and Matthew Niblett
9) Why People Travel: An Anthropological View – Tom Selwyn
10) Tourist Travel – Hazel Andrews
11) Travel as Exploration: Science, the Unknown, and Personal Discovery – Emily Thomas

Part III: Limits and New Horizons
12) Technology and Travel – Glenn Lyons
13) Placemaking and Travel: The city is where the people choose to go – Deborah Saunt and Tom Greenall
14) Travel’s Place in the Environment – Terry Hill
15) Conclusion: What have we learnt? – Kris Beuret and Matthew Niblett