Travel is the movement of people between distant geographical locations: The origin and history of the word travel may have changed over time. It is believed that the word travel might have come from the Old French word travail, which means work. That is a far cry from how we interpret traveling now. According to the Merriam Webster dictionary, the first known use of the word travel was in the 14th century. It also states that the word comes from Middle English travailentravelen (which means to torment, labor, strive, journey) and earlier from Old French travailler (which means to work strenuously, toil).

In English, we still occasionally use the words "travail", which means struggle. According to Simon Winchester in his book The Best Travelers' Tales (2004), the words "travel" and "travail" both share an ancient root: a Roman instrument of torture called the tripalium (in Latin it means "three stakes", as in to impale).

In today's modern times there can be difficult forms of travel such as to Mount Everest, the Amazon Rainforest, extreme tourism, and adventure travel. Travel can also be more difficult depending on the method of travel, yet other forms may be less strenuous such as by bus or cruise ship.

World Travel


The Greeks and Romans traveled during the time of Antiquity for leisure to their summer homes and villas in cities such as Pompeii and Bajae. In the middle ages, travel was important to the economy and to society as it is now. Wholesale sectors depended on merchants that would travel by caravans or sea-voyages. The public called on retailing and many peddlers moved from village to hamlets. Wondering Monks known as gyrobagues and friars brought theology and pastoral support to areas. Traveling minstrels also traveled along with armies and crusades.

Early travel had its risks and was much slower than today it was dominated by trade and migration. Back in 1942, ships were the only means of sea travel and crossing the oceans. Christopher Columbus sailed for 10 weeks to reach the new world from Spain. Today you can take aircraft and do it overnight.

The late 16th century saw young European aristocrats and wealthy upper-class men traveling to major European cities as part of their education in the arts and literature. This was known as the Grand Tour. The French revolution ended the Grand Tour.

Travelers experienced more comfort and speed by water than land travel. This was until the railways in the 19th century. When travel no longer became a hard and challenging task then tourism started. Thomas Cook who recently went out of business began selling tourism packages where trains and hotels were booked. Airships and airplanes took over much of the role of long-distance land travel in the 20th century. After the Second World War there was a surplus of aircraft and pilots. Air travel became appealing in the 21st century. One woman, Alexis Alford visited all 196 countries before her 21 st birthday.



People travel for many reasons today such as business, recreation, for fun, tourism, vacationing, research travel, volunteer travel for charity, moving/migration to begin a life in another state or country, religious pilgrimages, mission trips, for trade, fleeing from war, to visit family, to relax and de-stress, to obtain health care.

Travelers incorporate walking, bicycling, vehicles, public transportation, automobile, buses, trains, airplanes, and cruise ships.

Other motives for travel include:

  • Discovery and exploration
  • Intercultural communications
  • Taking personal time for building interpersonal relationships
  • Medical reasons
  • Earning to experience new cultures, places, food, wine, and historical sites
  • Family reunions
  • Celebrations
  • Meetings and incentives
  • Earned rewards