Travel Motivations can fit well into Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs Model

A review of the travel literature reveals that travel motivations can fit well into Maslow’s hierarchy of needs model (1943). The model suggests that lower needs in the order of hierarchy warrant priority attention and satisfaction – Maslow’s idea of prepotency. The hierarchy of needs proposed by Maslow can be represented as under:

1. Physiological – hunger, thirst, rest, activity

We Will Write a Custom Essay Specifically
For You For Only $13.90/page!

order now

2. Safety – security, release from fear and anxiety


3. Belonging and love – affection, giving and receiving love

4. Esteem – self-esteem (the need to exhibit strength, achievement, mastery, competence, and independence) and esteem from others (described by notions such as reputation, prestige, status, and recognition)

Image Source:

5. Self-actualization – personal self- realization


From the above list it is clear that the needs are mainly psychological in nature except that of the first one, which is physical in nature. To this list of needs, two specific needs were added later which are intellectual in essence.

Acquisition of knowledge-to learn and understand

Aesthetics – appreciation of beauty

Although the relationship between the above said three types of needs – physical, psychological and intellectual is ill-defined, it is considered that the intellectual needs stand on their own.


The people for whom the prime motivation to travel is “to escape” or “to relieve tension” can, indeed, be seen as aspiring to satisfy the basic physiological need. For such travellers, the motivation may be to get physical or mental relaxation.

Holidayers generally return home from a tour mentally revitalized and refreshed but physically exhausted. And here arises the need to differentiate between people opting to undertake an active holiday or a passive one, though both are motivated by a need for relieving stress and strains.

The active holidayer achieves the objective of reduction in tension through physical activity. This activity can also be considered as being related to self- esteem and/or of achievement and mastery of environment.

On the contrary, a passive holidayer tries to achieve the objective of tension relief by giving in or surrendering to the surrounding environment. From such a surrender comes the very let-up from tension that will bring on the return of the holidays/vacationers as refreshed and rejuvenated.

This proposition also well explains the fact that, at any one time, one may be motivated to satisfy multiple needs. Moreover, drawing on the idea of prepotency, that is, before the satisfaction of higher-level needs are considered, the lower-level needs in hierarchy framework should be satisfied to a level, implies that products and services including holidays targeted towards the satisfaction of lower -level needs would be deemed as more of a necessity than a luxury and would, as such, be more resilient to external pressures of time and money.

The desire for a pro tem escape and change of environment proposed by Gray as the central motivation for tourism has received endorsement in several following studies. Although Crompton (1979) has attempted to base ‘a break from routine’ as the primary motivation for people to travel, but he suggests to diagnose more precise, characteristic guiding motives determining the choice of a particular type of holiday or destination by the individual.

According to him, more than one motive is operative in most of the decisions and these motives can be “conceptualized as being located along a cultural- socio-psychological disequilibrium continuum”.

And these socio-psychic factors, with novelty and education as the primary cultural motives, have been made out in the works of Crompton and Dahn (1978). Further, Leiper (1984) identifies that “all leisure involves a temporary escape of some kind, but tourism is unique in that it involves real physical escape reflected in travelling to one or more destination regions where the leisure experiences transpire”.

Iso-Ahola in his abstract, theoretical motivational model suggests that “the escaping element is complemented or compounded by a seeking component. One set of motivational forces derives from an individual’s desire to escape from his personal environment and/ or interpersonal environment.

Another set of forces results from the desire to obtain certain psychical or intrinsic rewards, either personal or impersonal, by travelling to a different environment”. The highlight of Iso-Ahola’s study is in line with Pearce (1987) views that “tourism provides an outlet for avoiding something and for simultaneously seeking something”.

Several large-scale empirical studies and surveys have rightly corroborated the aforesaid views of the scholars. The study of travel motivation is basic and indispensable in tourism since it provides the logic, the rationale and purpose responsible for any tourism development plan.

In this context, Stanley C. Plog’s work on psychographic segmentation of tourists indicates that “tourists with different personalities will seek different travel experiences, selecting particular forms of travel and types of destination”. The psychographic approach is of great help in facilitating not only marketing but “it also offers possibilities for further understanding basic motivations for travel and relating these to particular travel destinations”.


I'm Jack!

Would you like to get a custom essay? How about receiving a customized one?

Check it out