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Leisure Travel: The History of Traveling for Pleasure

Updated on January 9, 2012

Man has always traveled for various reasons, but visiting places as a leisure activity is relatively a recent trend. While early man moved around in search of food and other basic necessities to sustain life, later on, traveling was for trading needs. With the evolution of wealthy class of people, travelling to other parts of the world to see and experience diverse art, cultures and cuisines started gaining popularity. The words ‘tourist’ and ‘tourism’ came into being at the turn of the 19th century. However, leisure travel for common man was still a distant reality.

The history of leisure travel has its beginning in the United Kingdom during the Industrial Revolution. Leisure time and leisure activities were popularized among the new middle class comprising of the higher echelons of industrial population – traders, factory owners, machinery owners and such like. It became fashionable to travel to tropics with milder weather in winter and summer. As more and more people came into the classification of middle class and travel and tourism industry became increasingly affordable, leisure travel took off in a big way by the second half of last century.

Beautiful vistas await tourists around the world
Beautiful vistas await tourists around the world | Source

The United Nations defines a foreign tourist as someone traveling abroad for at least twenty-four hours and staying for less than six months. Though there are various facets to tourism, leisure travel enjoys a lion’s share. It is the main revenue earner for many countries and means of livelihood for a majority of its population, especially in the tropical parts of the world. With increased awareness regarding the benefits of leisure travel, vacationing has become a yearly activity for the majority to replenish lost energy in hectic schedules during the rest of the year.

There are a lucky few who manage to combine work and studies with leisure activities. Instead of sitting within the confines of an office or a classroom, they get to carry out their responsibilities, without losing out on enjoyment. In fact, traveling imparts so much knowledge that it is regarded as the best teacher in the world. Here are some of the reasons why leisure travel is so popular.

Broadens mind

Exposure to new cultures, languages and people help in expanding our mindset. Different lifestyle, distinct behavior or unique approach to life of the people you meet during your travel can help you develop a better attitude towards life. Learning a new language, understanding a new culture and enjoying nature different from your hometown leave lasting impressions in travelers. The experience is worth the hardship and expenditure. This is something no teacher can teach in a classroom.

Boosts confidence and relationship

Traveling solo or in a group as a backpacker is most essential part of transition to adulthood. To explore the unknown world without the advantage of a secure fallback needs a brave attitude. While overcoming diverse hurdles on the way, backpackers mature into responsible citizens. When traveling in groups, the experience enhances the ability to bond and establish rapport with complete strangers. Providing support to others in the group or adjusting to their needs may come in handy in life later on. In the meantime, you may find yourself and the purpose of your life, which very few manage to achieve during their lifetime.

Visual and culinary treat

New places bring new sights and new food. Visiting strange places and meeting new people is an exciting experience. Every piece of land around the world abounds with picturesque landscapes and historical monuments, attracting tourists. Whether a gourmet or not, most of us love food. A chance to relish authentic dishes from local cuisines is definitely not to be missed.

Unwind and rejuvenate

Our body needs to slow down and unwind periodically to function in its optimal level. Employers insist on annual holidays for their employees to help them get rid of their lethargy and come back refreshed. The same is the case with school-going children. Moreover, holidays help bring families together and to understand and enjoy each other more.

Travel has become the most popular leisure activity in the world. Every year, the number of tourists and tourism spends are rising steadily; in 2010, the international tourist arrivals almost touched a billion (a growth of 6.6%), while the spending is close to USD 100 billion (a growth of 4.7%). This is heartening, as these growth figures are in spite of the threats posed by health warnings and global recession.


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    • Taalib Pugh1 profile image

      Theodore Pugh 5 years ago from Wilkes Barre Pa

      Thanks a lot for this hub it was informative. Soon God willing i'll be writing a hub based on travel. Thanks again.

    • profile image

      leann2800 6 years ago

      I really enjoyed this hub. I am a history buff and i love to travel. You got the both of best in this article. :)

    • hoteltravel profile image

      hoteltravel 6 years ago from Thailand

      Thanks alocsin for reading and commenting. If the word 'tourist' has negative connotations, that is purely imaginary. Merriam-Webster describes a tourist as 'one that makes a tour for pleasure or culture' and traveler as 'one that goes on a trip or journey'. If the trip is for pleasure, being labeled tourist is perfectly correct.

    • alocsin profile image

      alocsin 6 years ago from Orange County, CA

      I agree with all your reasons -- which are also why I travel as often as I can. Though I think tourist has certain negative connotations that traveler doesn't. Voting this Up and Interesting.

    • hoteltravel profile image

      hoteltravel 6 years ago from Thailand

      Jennifer Essary - traveling with children needs lots of planning, but I feel more enjoyable because you get to see the world through their eyes as well. If you love traveling, follow your passion. I am thinking of compiling tips and suggestions for parents to make traveling with children easier.

    • Jennifer Essary profile image

      Jennifer Essary 6 years ago from Idaho

      I love to travel but I don't seem to do it as much now that I am married with children. Two of my most memorable trips were those I took alone. The first was Savanna, Georgia and the other was a little town called Progresso on the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico.