Alina Pavlova


All roads lead to…Where?

T H E   T R A N S F O R M A T I O N A L   P O W E R   O F


M A S T E R   T H E S I S








This journey-style thesis is a sense-making attempt to the cultural tourism practice. Conceptualizing contemporary travel as a rite of passage, a modern-day pilgrimage, this paper strives to find out what transformational effects are available to an individual engaging in tourism practice and how it can benefit the society at large. When traditions, norms and morals lost in postmodernity create existential angst, the tourism as a “get away from it all” sheds a light on the values which went amiss and emphasizes the need for a more humanistic, value-based approach on a global level. Utilizing previous empirical research on transformational tourism and transformational psychology the conceptual framework of 3 levels of transformation through othering is created, leading to the conclusion that for the achievements of wholeness, peace and existential authenticity the loss of ego is required. By coalescing the fragmented theories in the fields of tourism, cultural economics and sociology this work contributes to the body of knowledge in these domains. The metaphorical nature of this thesis allows for the application of the findings beyond tourism and outside the mentioned areas.

Keywords: value-based approach, cultural tourism, transformation, loss of ego, existential authenticity


  • If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people together to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.-  
  1. de Saint-Exupéry


In these words of gratitude, I would like to acknowledge those who made me long for the endless immensity of the sea of knowledge.  I emphasize that together, we are building the ship which can sail through stormy weathers of the postmodern times. This thesis, therefore, is by no means my own achievement. Neither is it a possession of mine. It is as mine as it is yours.

First and foremost, I would like to thank my family for always encouraging my curiosity and building a solid fundament by assigning high value to education and knowledge. Secondly, I would like to say thanks to my immediate surrounding, my boyfriend Mario, my dear relatives and friends (especially Simone, Dennis and Stephany), for thinking with me, for putting up with my philosophical discussions and accepting my snappy hermit behaviour for the good of a greater goal.

Moreover, I could not be more grateful for inspiration, open-mindedness and all the input of my supervisor Arjo Klamer. Always one step ahead, Professor Klamer helped me to discover my passions, my long-tem goals and to be true to my moral compass. Arjo does not only have the value-based approach to economics but also to people and life. Wherever I end up, I would like to take it with me.

Additionally, I would like to say huge thanks to other inspiring professors. There is a dozen of names of professors and lecturers from the CE&E course I want to mention – Christian Handke, Erwin Dekker, Pawan Bhasing, Stijn Reijnders – all of you contributed to my thesis in one way or another – your thoughts, your passion about your subjects, your invaluable feedback.

Lastly, I also want to acknowledge all the brilliant papers I read. As Isaac Newton said, “If I have seen further it is by standing on shoulders of giants”.

By the same token, I dedicate this thesis to all who might see a benefit in it.

Table of Contents

Abstract 2

Acknowledgements. 3

Prologue. 7

Introduction. 9

Methodology. 13

The Scope. 15

Reasons Behind Travel 17

The History. 18

Pilgrimage. 18

The Quest 18

Motivational Theories 20

The Irrational Man. 20

Disequilibrium.. 20

Push Motivations 21

Pull Motivations 22

The Existential Crisis. 23

Instrumentalism.. 24

The Consequences 24

The Existential Origins 24

The Corporal Origins 27

The Other Way. 29

New Logics 30

Phronesis 31

The Value Based Approach. 32

The Change For Good. 33

The Pilgrimage. 34

Journey as a Metaphor. 35

The Rite of Passage. 36

The Importance of Place. 37

Metempsychosis 38

Liminality. 38

The Importance of Other. 40

Communitas 40

Other As An Agent to Realize Values 41

Orientalism and Self 42

The Role of The Other in Ontological Security. 43

The Definition of Other 44

Transformational Tourism.. 45

Transformational Theories 46

Mezirow Theory of Transformation. 46

Frankl Theory of Meaningful Life. 47

Types of Transformational Tourism.. 48

Types of Transformations 50

Rite of Passage. 50

Non Rite of Passage. 52

Transformation Beyond Self 54

The 3 Levels of Transformation Through Othering. 55

The Idea. 56

The Framework. 58

The Link with Cultural, Social and Oikos Spheres 59

I Experience of Dissonance or Consonance. 61

Dissonance. 61

Consonance. 63

II Experience of Dissonance and Consonance Simultaneously. 64

III Experience of Unison. 66

Discussion. 69

Love. 70

From Heaven to Earth. 72

-zation: Globalization, Commoditization, Digitalization and Institutionalization. 72

Misunderstanding and Subjective Truth. 73

Elitist Problem.. 74

Hedonism.. 75

Permanency of Transformations 76

Applications to Life. 78

Cross-Discipline. 78

The Power of Partaking. 79

For Tourism (And Other) Professionals 79

Scientific Relevance. 81

Limitations and Future Research. 82

Methodological Reflections 83

Conclusion. 85

Epilogue. 88

References. 89

Quote References 103


  • Let the world change you and you can change the world.-
    Che Guevara

We were hosted for the Christmas dinner in Havana by Ernesto, a Cuban in his 70ies who had an interesting life, studying the cultural philosophy of Marxism and Leninism in Moscow, living and working in the US and Mexico, where his kids are currently residing, and coming back to Cuba to run his bed and breakfast, which does not yield big returns. The remarkable thing about Ernesto is that he only told good things about each society he has been a part of. Not for once did I hear him say– Russia was good, but; the US was good, but; Cuba is good, but. He seemed to be always concentrated on the positive. So as we celebrated the Christmas together with Ernesto, he proposed a beautiful toast:

“I am here with you and I am happy. Today we have people from all over the world – Spanish, Americans, Russian, Australian and German. You are at my home and that means that you are also my family. My wife was not able to attend as she has to take care of my mother in law who is in a bad condition, one day she was a very energetic woman but everything changes. Everything changes – we can see that as we had a year full of significant events – the death of Fidel Castro, Trump winning the election and more. Yet in life I have seen more occasions as such – the fall of communism, the allowance of running small private businesses in Cuba. We have little influence over these changes but finally any change that comes is painful at first but it is usually for the better. So let’s toast for sharing this moment together and for the every change we have seen in 2016 being a blessing to our families.”

By sharing this story, I would just like to spread the wisdom of Ernesto – we are all one big family, living through exactly the same drama of everyday life, just from a slightly different angle. Besides, the world is full of fluctuations, which can resemble difficult transitions, but most of them result in positive change. The speech of Ernesto I will remember for good. People cheering and leaning to give a hug. This overwhelming feeling of unity, of being a family with people I have just met. The break of stereotypes and feeling at ease. You could feel the energy. It seemed like Ernesto, who just five minutes before was just a Cuban host became my closest relative. So humble, so loving, despite of everything. We stayed till the dusk of the dawn, speaking of culture, philosophy, politics and economics. “How in a matter of few sentences he was able to make us all feel at home and also teach us a lesson so even politics could be discussed in a respectful manner? A slippery slope when Cuba, America, Germany and Russia are at the table.” – we laughed.

Taking a rusty old-timer to the airport (trust me it sounds better than it is, both comfort and safety-wise), while inhaling the fumes of gasoline mixed with a persistent odour of laying on the streets garbage and listening to typical Havana noise of loud Spanish, chickens, barking dogs and reggaeton, I was contemplating on a trip which was about to end. This travel experience gave me so much. Yet, it is so difficult to explain it in words. Hand at heart, I would not like to be living in such a mess as I saw in Cuba. Yet, how could the man who went through so much, living in such conditions be so positive and able to maintain his moral compass? No, it is not because of Ernesto’s age, as the old can be cranky. Cuban culture? There are all sorts of Cubans I have seen… Wait, maybe Ernesto is humble because he has been around?

I can contest that travel experiences changed me in a positive way. Traveling made me a more compassionate and understanding person, made me break the cultural stereotypes, appreciate what I have and to know myself better. It motivated me and inspired. It is during travel I had my biggest revelations and took the most important decisions in life to date. You go away, you see the world from a different perspective and suddenly there is no fear of making a mistake when realizing meagreness of possible impacts in respect of a bigger picture.

Today, tourism is booming. And although travel, along with other cultural activities is considered to be a cyclical industry (Investopedia, 2017; DCALNI; 2017), meaning that during the downturn of the economic cycle the consumption patterns for travel should diminish, the travel consumption is persistently on the rise (UNWTO, 2015) especially after the economic recession. It seems like the financial crisis affected many cultural institutions in a negative sense (NEA, 2012). Yet, in a sense of tourism it only added fuel to the fire. What is so special about it which sets people off? Why do we need to go somewhere and what are we looking for? That is exactly how I started to think about the transformational power of travel.


  • My name is Sherlock Holmes. It is my business to know what other people do not know.-
    Conan Doyle[1]


Initially, I wanted to write about the commoditization and disappearance of the authentic in tourism. Somehow, seeing a Cuban lady in a purple dress with a flower on her head and a big cigar charging 1 CUC[2] for a selfie annoyed me. It felt like it was fake and it deprived the society of the depth of the tourism experience which has a high transformational power. Now there is almost no room for running away from the staged authenticity and something should be definitely done about it. If I do this research, I thought, I could advice the policymakers on why is it happening and how to avoid building new tourist traps, making tourists happier and more loyal. However, one problem emerged.

As the saying goes, the business of business is business. And, as I followed this train of thought it made me reflect on why the mock Cuban lady was there in the first place. According to the economic theory, the supply is there to meet demand. I saw few people gathering next to her to capture a shot. The lady had a tourism professional badge and hence, contributed to Cuban economy. Why would the policy makers let her go? It is up to her customers to decide. As such, according to Urry’s (2002) the tourists have a particular gaze in which they look for the more pronounced differences purposefully. In addition, however inauthentic it is, if it is a one-off encounter, even if some people do not find it pleasant, the consequences are scarce. The deterioration of the restaurant service in the touristic areas can be an indication of such. The food might be horrible but there still will be people who buy it.  As so I started my inquiry…

We live during times characterized by the experience economy. As people could not satisfy their wants and needs by products, they are now trying to satisfy them by experiences. However, as it appears, the commoditization which is also persistent in the field of experiences emphasizes a transition from one type of consumerism to another. Re-shuffle rather than a change. In tourism, according to Urry (2002) and De Botton (2002), the consequences of such consumerism are the destinations which do not live up to expectations, leading to disillusionment and longing for new products. In other words, bad experiences make people long for more and we end up chasing our own tail. We are busy, runing through life searching for these undefinable goals where the hedonistic happiness becomes the goal in itself. In fact, we live in a happiness economy which teases us to be happy, but does not define what happiness is. The amalgamation of the extrinsically motivated hedonistic experiences, therefore, has a threat of producing the emptiness inside, leading to symptoms associated with it (Csikszentmihalyi, 1996) such as anxiety, depression and other mental health concerns such as addictions (Grof & Grof, 1992). Hence, there is a bigger problem we need to solve.

Something on a deeper level needs to be changed. But first we need to find out what is it people are searching for. The rise in tourism despite the commoditization of travel experiences points out that people are fleeing. And, if we look at what is being commoditized, it might give us clues of the wants and needs which can not be realized, maybe for this exact reason. The most common commoditization of culture in tourism is in fact the staged authenticity. Even if the real Cuban ladies do not really smoke cigars or wear all purple, in figurative sense, it is this precise image which is considered authentic and what people travel to Cuba for. There is a trend for authentic and primitive, be it real or fake. The hip of traveling to Asia and to developing world, the modern nomadism and return to basics (Fitzsimmons, 2017; Smith, 2016; UNWTO, 2016; OECD; 2016) could be good pointers of what we are looking for, despite the discomfort which such a style of traveling entails. While the contemporary Western society can be characterized by many advantages which are not accessible to people in the developed world, somehow the people there are not less happy (Helliwell, Layard & Sachs 2017; Csikszentmihalyi, 2004). Instead, the developed world is longing for a more primitive, kind and authentic life.

To make sense of these curious observations, the standard economic framework would not lend a hand. Looking for discomfort and engaging in emblematic wanderings make it difficult to explain by the theory of utility maximization. The sub-domain of cultural economics, however, which is focused on market failures as a feature of cultural industries, looks more promising. Tourism was never in scope of the cultural economics. However, the biggest part of tourism activities is related to culture. Consider heritage, creative, indigenous or experiential forms of tourism (Smith, 2016). Whereas I might agree with such separation if we would look at tourism humdrum activities such as accommodation and transport (Caves, 2000), there are tourism creative inputs which should rather belong to creative or cultural industries. Particularly since the cultural as opposed to the mass tourism is in the scope of this paper. Consequently, looking at tourism can give a bird’s eye view on culture as all-encompassing, studying cultural economy in a macro-sense, and looking at the cultural demand from a wider angle. And, as the field of cultural economics stems from the value-based approach, even a non-related field can benefit from a more humanistic rather than instrumental analysis. Hence, there is a win-win situation for both cultural economics and tourism fields in looking at tourist through a prism of culture.

Moreover, the path-dependency suggests it is not easy to find the solution by sticking to old methods. We can not solve the economics problems of today by using economics methods which have failed us before. Csikszentmihalyi (1996) mentioned John Reed, the CEO and Chairman of Citibank, a highly successful fellow, which provided the example of how he handles the constantly changing world by looking at it from different angles and adapting to this evolutionary process. The travel, thereby, is not only run-away, a search, but also change of perspective which facilitates transformations.  The transformation today is needed. As people start to have more voice, as we can see from Brexit or the election of Donald Trump, we need to understand how to turn “the revolt of the losers” (Bauer, 2017; O’Brien, 2016) motivated by fear to revolt of the winners motivated by hope. Considering that travelling today is affordable, if not cheap (Becker, 2016), it can provide to be the most accessible form of education and culture (both economic and cultural capital-wise). Hence, traveling has a potential to accelerate a peaceful transformation bottom-up.

Last but not least, isn’t there something mystical in people’s fascination with places? Somehow, we love the movement, and even when we move through time we tend to pin the vectors to the places. Tuan (1974) described this phenomenon as topophilia or human “the love of a place” (Tuan, 1974 as cited in Reijnders, 2016) in its various forms. Speaking of life, people often refer to a path, associating passage of time with physical locations. We search for missing links of our fragmented and alienated society (Giddens, 1991; Senett, 2008) by rumbling around the world as if we were searching for the keys in a messy house. By understanding this physical aspect of human nature, we might just be finding a way for organizing this house.

The goal of this thesis is, therefore, making sense of the travel practice to better understand the world, to find missing links and to try and pinpoint solutions to the persistent societal problems. Since this research is conceptual and of an explorative nature, the research question is rather broad or, as the title suggests, “All roads lead to…Where?”. This research is multidisciplinary and is arranged in a style of a journey.  I am purposefully setting for a cross-discipline approach, looking for different angles and problematizing on the instrumentalism which is persistent in academia and beyond. It seems like the many questions which academic research papers are trying to answer are focused on economic gains (i.e. the nature or the cultural heritage need to be maintained so the tourists keep on coming). At the same time, the feelings, emotions and anything far from perfect has been marginalized and deemed unimportant (Pritchard & Morgan, 2013). However, these aspects of life are the ones through which our experiences are formed and they should be brought back. Additionally, writing in a style of a journey, without knowing the contents in advance, I am looking to avoid the bias of selectivity in my exploration. I am confident it is the better way for making sense of it all. And if it doesn’t, at least I have tried. Not all regressions end up in significant relationships either. By creating and spreading such humanistic and experiential knowledge I am aiming at tackling the fear of change, the change which has a great potentiality.

To give you a quick overview, or, better, the itinerary of this journey, which wasn’t initially planned, I will first introduce you to the Methodology, where I also explain why I write in an accessible manner and in a journey way as such. In the first chapter I try to explore why we travel, considering the history, its current irrationality and underlying travel motivations. In chapter two I look at the current societal discourse, which helps to explain what we are running away from, and introduce the value based approach. In chapter three I come back to the notion of pilgrimage, where such factors as liminal space and the other come to the spotlight as the instruments for valorisation and transformation. Chapter four goes in depths of transformational theories, the purpose of transformations and which transformations can be achieved through tourism. In chapter five the conceptual theory of 3 Levels of Transformation Through Othering is developed, touching upon the universal nature of existential authenticity of both the self and the other. In chapter six it is the time to go home and reflect on what we learned during the journey, about the sacred (Love) and the profane (Ego), about how can these findings be applied to the real life and their limitations. For a quick summary of this research the reader can refer to Conclusion, yet, my advice it to go through the entire reading as journey. What is there are trophies to find?


  • If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten. –
  1. Kipling

This thesis is not a conventional thesis. It is a conceptual thesis in a style of a journey. According to Oxford Dictionary the journey can be defined as “an act of traveling from one place to another” (Journey, n.d.). Additionally, traveling can be related to discovery, with or without an intentional search. Hence, looking at places in a more figurative sense and associating those with scientific disciplines I hope to travel to previously unknown terrain. In modern days, of course, most of the physical places on Earth are already discovered. The maps have been drawn for going from one continent to another. Nevertheless, it is during such map-creating journeys new continents and islands were discovered. In science, there are still little mind maps of connecting the disciplines, even though such map-making practice could result in some useful breakthroughs (Rinallo, Bathelt & Golfetto, 2016). To look at it from another angle, in creativity studies cross-discipline conversations are thought to result in most revelations as well (Csikszentmihalyi, 1996). The path-dependency, on the contrary, is thought to hinder innovation and progress (Moulaert, Martinelli, Gonzalez & Swyngedouw, 2007). Which is the first “why” I am writing in a non-conventional way of journey, which is unmapped and unplanned.

The second “why” will answer the question of why I have chosen in favour of a conceptual-phenomenological rather than empirical method for my research. In this thesis, I would like to create a bigger picture of what has already been researched by the disciplines of tourism, arts and culture, economics and more. Although conceptual research is often being criticized, we should not forget that the most scientifically relevant and most frequently referred to papers were conceptual. Think of authors as Adam Smith, Karpik or Aklerof, who created such economic frameworks as the “invisible hand”, “singularities” or “lemons” which are so relevant for understanding of the society. On the other hand, I would not want to downplay the empirical research. The wisdom of Aristotle’s cannonballs did teach us a lesson. However, my argument is that I would like to use the empirical research which has valid and reliable methods and which already exists to make sense of the traveling practice in relation to the individual and to the society in general. While broadening the perspective I am hoping to get some answers and maybe to rise more relevant questions from the empirical research attempts which already took many viewpoints into account.

Most of the empirical research I use is qualitative which has it flaws. Here, I would like to stand by side with (Csikszentmihalyi, 1996) who argues that the human accounts should be accepted at face value and abstain from the “de-bunking enterprise” of self-interest and hypocrisy. At times, I would also use an anecdote from personal experience (changing the names of the actors, of course) which I think fits the confirmed theory. But I would not create generalizations from such as I believe in the theories of significance and representation. Even though from a phenomenology perspective every opinion matters and scientific methods are “constitutionally unfit to settle questions of value and hence questions of meaning for personal existence” (Willson, McIntosch & Zahra, 2013, p.154), I hold a middle ground on that.

Thirdly, I would like to emphasize my narrative-based writing style, which is not usual and is often frown upon in academia. Before engaging in the field of Cultural Economics, I would adhere to impersonal, dry and to the point writing style. Whenever I had to read the assigned literature, however, it was the authors who wrote in an anecdotal manner I have learned from the most. Richard Caves, Arjo Klamer, John Howkins and Viktor Frankl are all talking about meaningful scientific endeavours but are easy to read and comprehend. Later, I learned about the gap between the academia and non-academia worlds. Particularly that the valuable scientific research would not reach the masses due to the fact it was incomprehensible (Pritchard & Morgan, 2011). Therefore, I would like to make my research useful by making it accessible to relevant stakeholders beyond the academia.

Finally, this thesis puts an emphasis on a more humanistic value-based rather than traditional approach of (cultural) economics (Dekker, 2014a; Klamer, 2015). As Dekker (2014) said “cultural economics can be more than just the study of arts and culture with the tools of economics. It could also be the study of the economy with the knowledge of culture” (Dekker, 2014b). In fact, if something seems illogical from the perspective of the traditional economics it is not necessarily a dead end and maybe just another method is needed. Understanding the world which consists of the complex knots that we aim to untangle is much easier by pulling different threads. Especially if some particular thread is not working, by drawing it more often we can ravel the knot even more. Considering the valuation approach in the praxis of travel, however, the deeper look into traveller’s experience from personal, social, societal and cultural perspectives is possible and the importance of such practice for the individual and the society in general can be explained. By looking at the value based approach I am putting the world upside down. In other words, this paper will not look at the instruments, their use and misuse, with regards to the hedonistic travel, but will consider travel as an instrument for figuring out what is it actually good for.

The Scope

Where culture is defined as a “cohesive whole of ideas, values and symbols as well as practices, creative expressions and accompanying objects of a specific group of people” (Reijnders, 2017) and tourism as a form of “travel and stay in places outside one’s usual environment for more than 24 hours and no more than 1 concessive year for leisure or recreation” (UNWTO, 2014, as cited by Reijnders, 2017), going outside of one’s usual environment will almost necessarily involve the interaction with alien culture. Therefore, in the scope of this paper the terms of “travel” and “tourism” will be used interchangeably to express the contention of “cultural tourism”. Saying that, the mass tourism, business travel, medical tourism, and visiting relatives and friends are explicitly avoided since these do not constitute going outside one’s usual environment. Even though such practices might not preclude cultural experiences, they have a limiting capacity for the cultural tourism generalizations.

It can also be argued that many cultural tourism practices today are becoming a new form of mass tourism. Mass tourism can be defined as a form of tourism which adheres to “two main characteristics: (a) participation of large number of people in tourism; and, (b) the holiday is standardized, rigidly packaged and inflexible.” (Vanhove, 1997, p.50). While the cultural tourism practices can indeed warn us of such possibility with regards to the mass participation (Smith, 2016), it does not necessarily mean that the cultural tourism becomes inflexible and standardized. While there is criticism of the lack of the authenticity and commoditization which I already outlined in introduction, there are also signs of the crowding out from such standardization on behalf of the cultural tourists (Wolfram & Burnill-Maier, 2013; Richards, 2001). In fact, with the arrival of the shared economy and the spread of digital technology (OECD, 2016) it can be said that tourism in general has became more flexible and less standardized.

Lastly, in the scope of this paper the Western tourist is particularly looked at. Taking the Western society as a focal point in this research comes from the observation of the distress the Western society is facing despite the economic development (Smith, 2016) and the persistence of postmodernism (Giddens, 1991), which cannot be claimed for all developing parts of the world.

Reasons Behind Travel

The History

-Past is a prologue-

  1. Stone


With confidence, the first form of cultural tourism can be assigned to pilgrimage.  Although people travelled throughout the history, it is during the pilgrimage that traveling for leisure and recreation took its origins. Pilgrimages often resembled long journeys across well-known routes and were aimed at reaching some spiritual goal, connection with sacred or supernatural. Usually associated with religion (especially in the Western world), pilgrimages were a cultural phenomenon of many civilizations which sometimes preceded organized religions. Besides being a spiritual journey, pilgrimage was also a first form of travel which satisfied the motivations of curiosity, penance, leisure and fun (Wang & Pizam, 2011).

Little is known about the “how’s” of the pagan pilgrimage forms. However, from the travel writing of the Middle Ages it can be noted that it is during the pilgrimage the first organized group travel packages evolved and the Inns were developed (Elsner & Rubiés, 1999).  As we describe the characteristics of the pilgrimage as a tourism form, however, a question arises. Since spiritual journey is often a difficult path and the definitions of leisure and recreation somehow entail a purposeless hedonistic pleasure, could the aim of a spiritual journey contradict to the notion of leisure and recreation? Or, if we reverse this question to the realities of today, would that mean that the current notion of cultural tourism is futile? That tourism serves no more than relaxation and having fun?

The Quest

Before we move closer to the 21st century, let us quickly touch upon late Middle Ages where the traditional ideology of pilgrimage was replaced by empiricism. The accounts of Marco Polo show how the paradigm of sacred journey was completely replaced by the aim of the discovery in a sense of empirical observation. The pilgrimage’s “magic quest was over. Instead a different journey was offered, one which would lead to realistic, self critical assessment of the true nature of … Society” (Elsner & Rubiés, 1999, p.45), as we can see from the Cervantez’ Don Quixote. Yet, the archetype of travel as a quest remained. Although the paradigms have shifted, the past was repeating itself.

Quest for the rational knowledge, knowledge being a new religion, could be seen as an analogy to the quest for salvation. Crusade could be compared to then imposition of the Western values of truth to the societies of the other during Imperialism. The humanism and ethnographic interest of missionaries was replaced by the romantic imagination and the interest in Orientalism (Elsner & Rubiés, 1999). Against all odds, the notion of inner journey in travel literature also remained. The narratives of female travellers sought transformation by gender transcendence (Birkett & Wheeler, 1998). The availability of travel to the broader population with the appearance of railroads eroded the “elitisms of aristocratic travel” (Elsner & Rubiés, 1999, p.53), which, to transcend, resulted in the rise of mountaineering journeys and literature which longed for the lost notions of the “conquest and masculinity” (Elsner & Rubiés, 1999, p.53). At the turn of the twenty century the uselessness of the progress reflected the come back to allegory in the search of a meaning by Joseph Conrad (Elsner & Rubiés, 1999). Throughout the history the travel narratives reflected the societal desires. Adler (1989), moreover, compared the practice of traveling through the passage of time to the artistic movement or conversation. Consequently, the travellers could be seen as the frontrunners of the collective transformation, a change.

Allow me, therefore, to get rid of the futility of leisure and recreation concepts and move towards discovery of the todays’ societal discourse by looking at the motives behind tourism. The traveling of modern days is rather different from the activity it represented in the past. It is fast and relatively safe, there is abundance of the information available about the world and little places which were not previously discovered. The travel is democratized and is available to mass, thanks to paid holidays and inexpensive transportation. In a sense, the adventure of past days’ travels has been lost, so what can still motivate people to travel?

Motivational Theories

– Motivations are too tangled and complex. –

  1. Banks

The Irrational Man

According to the standard economic approach people are driven by the utility maximization (Krugman, 1991). In other words, one will try to fulfil their desires, needs and wants at minimum cost to achieve the satisfaction. Travelling in current days, therefore, can be considered inefficient, especially in the context of a Western society which is in scope of this paper. If a person needs rest, is it not more rational to lay down in a bed at home? If the traveling would be for discovery and learning, is there anything which Google can not tell? From the standard economics point of view, therefore, traveling should be in decline. Why though, despite all odds, in the time of global information availability and comfort the more unusual types of travelling are booming (OECD, 2016)? Everything has a reason.


Motivation for action is said to be based on a state of equilibrium of the subject (McNeal, 1973). When disequilibrium occurs the need to resolve it arises which results in an action necessary to re-establish the balance (Howard & Sheth, 1969; Luthans, 1998). The motivation, nevertheless, is bi-directional. On one hand, one can be motivated by getting away from some negative stimuli. On the other hand, the motivation could be triggered by an expectation of a reward. The most commonly accepted theory of motivation in the field of tourism is a push and pull motivation theory (Dann, 1977; Crompton, 1979; Yuan & McDonald, 1990; Uysal & Hagan, 1993). According to this model, push motivation comes from the socio-psychological factor which arises from within, in other words an intrinsic motivation. “I always had the calling for Peru”, said Amber, a 53-year-old woman from New Zealand, “For me in the beginning the purpose of my life was to have a family and rear them the best I could […] Now I feel I need to back away from that a little bit […] I need to do some things for myself. So that’s where this travel bit will come in” (Amber, as cited in Willson et al., 2013). As such it was the socio-psychological, internal aspect which motivated Amber to travel. The pull motivation, on a contrary, entails some external stimuli with the consequent reward expectation (i.e. sun and beach, cultural interest), being an extrinsic motivation. The pull motivation, therefore, defines where and when a person travels. The push motivation answers the why question and, therefore, precedes the pull motivation. Thus, we will focus on the former.

Push Motivations

To start from one of the most quoted studies on push motivations in tourism, Dann’s (1977) empirical research was the first to identify anomie and ego-enhancement as the socio-psychological factors behind the push motivation for travel. According to the author, anomie refers to the societal loss of meaning for the social interaction norms. Phenomena closely resembling the absence of myth described by Joseph Campbell (1988). Dann (1977) further described that sources of anomie were socio-demographic transformations of society such as dehumanization of work, increase in individualism and competition, which caused monotony, loneliness and lack of genuine social interaction. Likewise, the need for ego-enhancement arose from the alienation and the lack of personal recognition from non-contemporaries. The need for the diversity, sincere human connection and gratitude, therefore, put the isolated man in disequilibrium. Whereas going to places where one could not only relax but also engage in conversations and interact with people outside their usual environment, where socio-economic status of the tourist remained unknown, could transcend abovementioned needs during travel (Dann, 1977).

The follow up research on push motivations by Cropmton (1979) coincided with the findings of Dann’s (1977). Additionally, Crompton (1979) identified the need for mental relaxation in tourism. In his research, the mental rest not only came from the regression (Dann, 1977; Crompton, 1979), or taking the mask of the existent social roles off, but also from submerging into a simpler lifestyle of the developing societies and engaging in physical rather than mental activities, unlike back home. This socio-psychological disequilibrium was furthermore given a name – nostalgia. Nostalgia for simpler life-style in the age of tiredness from the technology and complexity (Crompton, 1979) as well as nostalgia for “the days of service, smiles and neighbourliness” (Dann, 1979, p.190).

Pull Motivations

In today’s travel motivation research, however, the interest for the push motivation is lost and the spotlight has fallen on what people want to enjoy to capitalize on their needs. The push motivation has been downplayed to the “getting away from it all” and escapism, as for this matter (Smith, 2016). The research on pull motivations, however, is thriving and has lead to the numerous tourist segmentation studies (Silberberg, 1995; Dolnicar, 2002; McKercher, 2002, 2004; Smith, 2016). Yet, in the latest Du Cros and McKercher’s (2015) research it was realized that the market was dominated by casual and incidental cultural tourists, both of which suggest that the motivation to travel for culture is of no particular importance. In the push motivation research, Crompton (1979), highlighted that it was difficult for the people to articulate their socio-demographic motivations or the meaning behind what they were doing, as they were not used to think about the “why’s” anymore. However, as the interviews continued, the push motives became apparent as, subconsciously, the socio-demographic factors were prevailing. What it leads us to see is that, although the focal point of the research has changed, the fact that neither destination nor “cultural insights and artefacts” (Crompton, 1979, p. 415) were important travel motivations did not change slightly. In fact, to counterbalance, the emergence of term tactical tourism (Wolfram and & Burnill-Maier, 2013), which means the tourist trap avoidance, and monument fatigue (Richards, 2001) point at the crowding out effect (Frey, 2001). People are running away from the dominant market systems even further.

The Existential Crisis


– I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail. –

  1. Maslow

The Consequences

Besides being pronounced within the motivational research, the consequences of instrumentalism have spread beyond the domain of tourism. The world where economy dominates political agenda, people worrying about their incomes and corporates about their profits is out of balance. The news headlines today often start with “turmoil” or “crisis”. The dumpster fire, an “exceedingly disastrous or chaotic situation”, was the phrase of the year’ 2016 (American Dialect Society, 2017). This term indeed represents the societal malaise. When question “why” is absent from the society, it leads to stress and anxiety. To put it in numbers 1 in 4 people in the developed world is affected by a mental illness. The number which experienced a steady increase during the past decade, especially with regards to the youth depressions and work-related burnouts (MHA, 2016; WHO, 2016; Eurostat, 2017).

The Existential Origins

One could argue that psychological distress originates from different backgrounds; it can be a matter of genetic make up or the trauma from childhood. However, as for genetics there are certain statistics and the society today is safe and more educated (Giddens, 1991), presumably improving the childhood, the rising numbers of poor mental health come down to being acquired later in life. Through existential theories, there are four reasons can be articulated which can explain the societal anguish and which can strengthen and bring back the push motivations to life. Fundamental to all people there are four existential concerns –universal alienation, unconditional freedom, inevitable death, and meaninglessness of life (Giddens, 1991; Yalom, 1980). From Dann’s (1977) research we recognize that people set off to travel due to alienation as an existential concern.

Unconditional Freedom

Referring to the sociological discourse on postmodernism the society of today is also characterized by unconditional freedom (Giddens, 1991; Maffesoli, 2004). Although the availability of choices, precision and freedom can be good things on their own there are no rules to follow and everything is questioned and open for revision. Where the societal secularization (Giddens, 1991) with “privatization of meaning” (Stone, 2009, p.27) deprived the people of traditions, collective values and meaning, which would usually guide them and help to “make sense of their daily life” (Stone, 2009, p.27), the continuous reflection and interrogation hinders trust. And yet, despite that fact, decisions we take are expected to be perfect and mistakes are frowned upon, creating a state of a constant fear and high risk (Maffesoli, 2004). Eventually, one starts to notice limitations of the free will (Maffesoli, 2004) and, as a consequence, self-confidence fades away (Furedi, 2004). The symptoms of such loss of self-belief are manifest in mindless and insecure accumulation of wealth and mental health problems (Csikszentmihalyi, 1996). Additionally, the second existential concern of unconditional freedom can emphasize disequilibrium which has the potential of a motivational push to wander. This, furthermore, can be summarised in a confession by one of the most famous travel bloggers NomadicMatt:

“I’m a very lazy person. I’m also a very indecisive person. That combination usually means that I end up doing everything last minute. And then I usually change those last-minute plans because I get a sudden, better, brighter idea in my head. As a result, I always end up paying a ton of money in airline cancellation fees as I switch my flights around. But I guess that’s the price I pay for getting to do what I want, when I want.” (NomadicMatt, 2011)

In a sense, by serendipitous travelling Matt is trying to find a solution to his unconditional freedom reflected in indecisiveness.

Inevitable Death

Other than that, people long for ontological security described as the order and permanence in life (Giddens, 1991). Still, in addition to the sentiments and morals (Elsner & Rubiés, 1999; Giddens, 1991) which are stripped off from the today’s society, postmodernism is focused on the youth, beauty and happiness hiding the old, ugly and unhappy in the MacCannell’s (1976) “back” closet. We are protected from such fundamental forces as the power of nature or inevitability of death. Nevertheless, due to the fact that the “ugly” of our society is an unescapable part of life, the ontological security is threatened and the state of radical doubt emerges (Stone, 2009). The persistent societal reflexivity senses the dissonance and evokes the angst of chaos, or existential anxiety to be precise. Stone (2009) mentions that dark tourism makes absent death present which both brings the order back to life and also distancing the individual, giving them immunity from the existential concern. In analogy, the sequestration of other imperfect experiences produced unnecessary fragmentation which can be neutralized by travel. Have you ever noticed when going to Southern European countries of Italy or Spain that there are more elderly people who look like they are about to die (apologies for the nihilism) but are walking on the streets, socialising, and looking quite happy? Somehow it always makes you feel more comfortable about this inevitable future. In fact, according to the theories of Marxism it is the estrangement from (human) nature produced by dehumanization of work and urbanization which leads the men to seek more authentic experiences (Knudsen, Rickly & Vidon, 2016).

Meaninglessness of Life

The most essential of existential dilemmas, however, is meaninglessness of life. Regardless the persistency of other existential concerns, the personal value system defined as existential authenticity is set to protect one from such. When the personal value system does not match personal experiences, the ontological security is damaged and the existential anxiety takes place (Kirillova, Lehto & Cai, 2017). Therefore, existential authenticity, also defined as the meaning in life is said to find place when “one is true to one’s own values”, protecting an individual from fears and doubts (Kirillova et al., 2017, p.13). And that is, by many, the definition of true happiness and well-being (Frankl, 1985; Giddens, 1991; Csikszentmihalyi, 1996). Yet, for many people in contemporary society the paradise is lost and the meaninglessness of life, or existential vacuum, persists. As the short-term hedonistic happiness, which can be achieved with external pleasures, does not lead to a sustainable long-term fulfilment by default there are 25% of European and 60% of American students display some degree of the meaning loss defined as the existential vacuum (Frankl, 1985). Consequently, the solution needs to be sought, the first step to which would be defining one person’s values.

The Corporal Origins

To be able to find missing values, it is a good idea to first put a finger on where they have been lost. According to the World Health Organisation (2017) “social, cultural, economic, political and environmental factors such as national policies, social protection, standards of living, working conditions, and community support” cause the decrease in mental health globally. But does it come as a great surprise when the standards of living, for example, have mostly been valued in terms of quantitative efficiency through instruments such as the GDP per capita and employment rates (Throsby, 2001)? This utilitarian approach, moreover, is at the root of the worlds’ most dominant economic and political system – capitalism. What could be wrong with the private ownership, free markets and the profit maximization as the postulates of the societal structure, one could ask? The answer is the loss of values and morals.

If we look at the origins of economics, it emphasizes value or wealth as something benefiting well-being in a non-material way. The luxury was often seen as slavery, which leaves men and women in misery and “wears out their substance” (Xenophon, 2014/400BC, loc. 170). Today, however, the meaning of wealth changed from the archaic “well-being or prosperity” to “an abundance of valuable possessions or money” (Wealth, n.d.). How else, as the world’s economy is in a decline, the institutions wicked cost cutting solutions such as eradication of education, healthcare and art, which are supposedly improve our wellbeing, could be explained? Especially when the consumerism, allegedly driving the economy up, is created space for. The need for efficiency and productivity during Industrialisation combined with the focus on free markets and profits of capitalism developed into instrumentalism (Furedi, 2004). In other words, we do not look at a bigger picture anymore but rather solve problems for the affiliated party (Pritchard & Morgan, 2011). Ironically, with freedoms of today there comes an absence of responsibility. As such, the frightening consequences of instrumentalism already can be seen. Besides the scary mental health statistics, the instrumental relations with nature, for example, have a negative influence on climate change (Smith, 2016). While instrumentalism in culture is said to threaten with the death of creativity (Throsby, 2001).

Adam Smith argued that the “invisible hand” or individuals who act in accordance with self-interest would lead to self-regulating markets and maximize the societal wealth. And, probably, it would be so, if the readers of The Wealth of Nations would also read The Theory of Moral Sentiment and shared the same values with Smith who thought that a man has an “interest in the welfare of others” (Smith, 1759). Two centuries fast forward, Chamberlin (1953) has noted that the selfish profit maximisation nature of capitalism has deteriorated the quality of products. A colleague of Keynes, Robinson, has sarcastically noticed that “the great merit of the capitalist system is that it succeeds in using the nastiest motives of nasty people for the ultimate benefit of society” (Robinson, 1941, p.276). And, as among the self-interested people, the morals are a few, the problems such lemons (Aklerof, 1970) and moral hazard (Krugman, 1991) emerge, which can no longer be solved by the “invisible hand” and the world has to retreat to other instruments.

The Other Way

New Logics

– Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art…. It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which give value to survival. –

C.S. Lewis

Such instruments for regulation are parts of the Klamer’s (2015) governmental logic, the logic of laws and rules. Insurance and collaterals, which fall under definition, are set to protect the men from their own self-interest. But people are not selfish by nature. As Klamer (2015) found out, the greed and perceived selfishness are just scratching the surface, under which the selfless care for something or someone else usually lays. One might be perceived selfish by taking a longer holiday. However, it might be a justifiable mean to the end for having a better relationship or being a better colleague if the person is tired, lost, making tones of mistakes and is snapping at everybody. Consider such example:

“I do work that is very intense and involves often very emotional interaction with lay clients and sometimes being nice to people I dislike. Travel is my break from that” (Leagle, UK, TripAdvisor, as cited by Pavlova, 2017)

Obviously, Leagle takes a travel as a break to, on arrival back home, continue being nice to her clients.

Unfortunately, such zooming in deeper can not make sense in the market logic dominated by instrumentalism and the word “preferences”. Neither the governmental logic of policies and orders will do. Hence, a new perspective should be introduced. Thus, Klamer (2015) argues that there are other 3 societal spheres of operation which help to better explain the world, taking the veil of the instrumentalism of. The social, cultural and oikos (ancient Greek: οἶκος – home, family) logics go further than the circulation of private and public goods and encompass the shared goods (i.e. friendship), club goods (somehow the movies such Dead Poets Society and Dallas Buyers Club come to mind) and commons (i.e. TripAdvisor or Nepalese community forests) which besides personal utility, strive for realization of social, societal and transcendental values which are exemplified in the Figure 1 (Klamer, 2015; Throsby, 2001). In fact, if different values and spheres introduced, perhaps the practice of tourism, striving for historical, beauty, peace or cosmopolitism values, is not entirely illogical?

Figure 1 – Four Domains Of Values


Source: adapted from Klamer (2015, p.59)


Hence, looking at the values from the socio-cultural perspective and going beyond the use-value and price, we might come to a better idea why there is a steep increase in such practices as tourism. In fact, it becomes more logical that the demand for travel has been rising for seven consecutive years (UNWTO, 2017) despite the economic challenges and the perceived cyclicality of the sector. Yet, journey as the process of finding and realizing values is not rational and absolute (Throsby, 2001) but rather relative to the environment. This messy, unorganized and intuitive process of making up one’s mind is called phronesis (Klamer, 2015). It is difficult to explain in steps as the values one is trying to realize are usually subconscious (Giddens, 1991). The decision-making process is optimized with the brain taking a short cut by processing the cues from the traditions, unwritten rules and morals, without thinking about them in detail (Giddens, 1991). However, where the tradition and moral values are lost and means are confused with the ends, phronesis becomes unclear and manifests itself in existential crisis, flight response (Cannon, 1929) and other wicked reactions. Quick and rational judgments, as such, are better to set aside. Is taking an Instagram picture in a designer bikini what is really important for a young lady setting for a trip abroad? Or is it a selfie ergo sum? Does buying a tacky souvenir really represents someone’s preferences or can it be a gift, the reciprocal action for hospitality one is purchasing? And what intangible souvenirs do we bring back? Consider, for example, an account of Amber, mentioned before, buying a painting on her trip:

 “I had bought this painting and I remember this man coming up to me, and he couldn’t speak, but he came and held my hands and then he was … he was trying to point and really thank me for buying his painting. That was pretty special. This was the deaf fellow and he had been sponsored by an Australian couple to go to this art college. You could see the glee in his eyes, and the fact that his life was turning around because one person had decided to sponsor him because he really has a gift. I bought one because of his story. I thought I’ll pick one out because of the story behind it and I’ll have that painting. So I got that, because of the man and his struggles, and the fact that he’d got this chance and this was like giving him a million dollars.” (Amber, as cited in Willson et al., 2013)

In fact, someone visiting Amber later might assume that the paining on her wall is a sign of consumerism and showing off. However, upon a closer examination, Amber shows a set of moral values such as compassion, responsibility and hope, which indicates she was doing a right thing. Here, the action of phronesis in personal traveling is reinforced by the value-based approach and it can show us a way to the depths of the reason which we are seeking.

The Value Based Approach

Klamer’s (2015) values, as we have previously noted, are qualitative and emphasize the morals, social norms and virtues which the modernity has lost (Giddens, 1991). According to the existentialists and sociologists, finding and realizing these non-material values beyond the market and governance spheres leads to the existentially authentic or meaningful and fulfilling life. Consequently, as the society is in disequilibrium (Howard & Sheth, 1969) and the push motivations to travel described by Dann (1977) are still valid today, by traveling one is often “doing the right thing” (Klamer, 2015). According to the recent travel trends it is said that the most pronounced tourism preference today is for the less developed regions of Asia and Africa (UNWTO, 2016). These are precisely the societies where the spirituality and community are still present (Cohen, 1973; MacCannell, 1973). The rising interest in such forms of tourism as indigenous and tribal tourism (Smith, 2016), slow tourism (Fullagar, Markwell & Wilson 2012; Fitzsimmons, 2017), back to basics (Fitzsimmons, 2017) and experiential or creative tourism (Richards, 2011) are other indicators of the values we miss. In fact, what Klamer (2015) pointed out with shifting perspective to a more value-based approach coincides with reality of the society searching for a meaning.

The Change For Good

The change of perspective, however, does not mean coming back to the primitive and denying the progress achieved in the last two centuries. It rather concerns the values, which should be reintroduced. The search for authenticity does not entail giving up the finest things in life but rather strives to provide the wholeness to the fragmented society. The reconciliation of freedom and necessity, individual and collective need, the left and the right, economics and sociology, capitalism and communism is required to offset the tragic of postmodern society and rise to the next level as a civilization (Maffestoli, 2004). According to Maffesoli (2004) such reconciliation can happen by making oneself a part of a greater entity, transcending the singularity by participation in foreign and strange, putting the discipline over status and accepting one’s fate. Meanwhile the appropriation of attention (Crawford, 2015), hyper-reality and, complexity and busyness of today’s life demand some sort of spatial separation. As travel can be seen to satisfy the definition, let us return to the journey to further assess such possibility.

The Pilgrimage

Journey as a Metaphor

– All great literature is one of two stories; a man goes on a journey or a stranger comes to town. –

  1. Tolstoy

From a more critical point of view, to restore disequilibrium the spatial journey per se is not needed. Unless the action of travel is a psychological flight response (Cannon, 1929), Howard & Sheth (1968) argued that the coming to balance is also possible by other methods such as participation in arts, gardening or home redecoration. In fact, what values the society is striving to realize can be examined through any undertakings indicating the change. The provocative thoughts are triggered within the literature and arts, trying to return to the metaphor. The activism by actors, authors and filmmakers (i.e. Naomi Klein, Jason Silva, Russell Brand, Emma Watson), who Campbell (1988) calls the creators and disseminators of truth for they are tolerated to speak up their mind, can be considered. There can be a content analysis of the emerging literary and cinematic journey narratives (i.e. Into the wild, Eat, Pray, Love, Life of Pi or Captain Fantastic), society-questioning documentaries (i.e. Before the Flood, Cowspiracy, Inside Job, Seven Billion Others) or the more dystopian and utopian themes (i.e. Black Mirror, Abandon in Place, The Voyage of the Space Beagle or The Star Wars) which long for new undiscovered frontiers, express nostalgia, spark faith and bring up the myths.

Coming back to the metaphor of the journey, however, the actual physical journey can be the easiest and more comprehensible “pathway toward understanding” of the more abstract phenomena of searching for values that we are trying to explain (Podsiadlik III, 2014). Analysing the actual journeys can later be transferable to journeys which are more symbolic. Through the metaphor of a physical journey such internal journeys as spiritual practices, which has been on the rise, can be explained (Ponder & Holladay, 2013; Smith, 2013; Heelas & Woodhead, 2005; Yoga Alliance, 2016). Moreover, and as we have previously discussed, travel as a physical journey reflects the wanderings of the mass. The one particular type of journey which puts an emphasis on the search for meaning is pilgrimage. Hence, let us consider the pilgrimage type of journey as an archetype and as a phronesis to make sense of.

The Rite of Passage

  • If you want to be free, all you have to do is let go. –
  1. Hayes

To start with a definition, pilgrimage is a “journey redolent with meaning” (Digance, 2006, p.36). And, while the tourism practices of today are questioned to suggest such search, symbolically, travellers, explorers, nomads or sailors, or any whoever is there to hit the road, have “littered our histories, our cultural outputs, and our imaginings as symbols of freedom, adventure, progress and discovery” (Matthews, 2014, p. 157). Thus, The Kingdom of Far, Far Away, frequently regarded as space which ruptures routine and introduces us to the unique and extraordinary other, will also give a chance to the contemporary tourist to reflect, to gain insights and to transform and grow (Matthews, 2014). For similar reasons MacCannell (1973) argued that the modern days’ tourism can be considered as pilgrimage because the traveller is seeking the authentic experiences within the foreign cultures that one cannot experience at home (Digance, 2006). Turner, in fact, has emphasized that “a tourist is half a pilgrim, is pilgrim is half a tourist” (Turner, 1978, p.20).

Since pilgrimage is a rite accompanying change of place and state, it falls under definition of the rite of passage (Van Gennep, 1961). The usual examples of the rite of passage are such transitions as childbirth, marriage, funerals and, as in our case, the pilgrimage. As any rite of passage, pilgrimage is a stepwise phenomena requiring steps of separation, margin or being in a liminal space and, postliminal “incorporation into the new world” (Matthews, 2014, p.159) or re-aggregation (Mahdi & Foster & Little, 1987; Turner, 1974). In other words, besides social and spatial separation, a liminal space where the pilgrim’s normal social ties are replaced by a temporary bonding with the communitas (Turner, 1974) is instrumental for finding the meaning. 

The Importance of Place

  • Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors. –
  1. Pratchett

First of all, let us consider the importance of place, the social and spatial separation required for the transformation during the rite of passage. In Places of the Imagination’ Stijn Reijnders (2011) refers to Pierre Nora (1984-1992) whose argument was built up on a Western society’s fixation on the past. He claimed that with changing demographics such as rising individualism and immigration, the Western men is in search of their roots which would facilitate relating to each other. Yet, to do so, the “physical points of reference” (Reijnders, 2011, p.15) are needed to pull up the collective feeling. Reijnders further referred to Malpas (1999) who argued that the imagination is linked to the sensory experiences and to confirm a though, a concept, a fantasy or even the perception of the reality the physical, spatial connection needs to be established. Malpas (1999) contention furthermore fits to the Caughey’s (1984) theory that people live in the intertwined worlds of the reality, expressed by time and space, and the more abstract world of the imagination. Even in history, where no maps were yet drawn, the journeys were made to the imagined unknown (Reijnders, 2011). By conducting theses physical journey, therefore, the imaginary journey or dream was realized, while, rather as a side effect, the world was discovered. Moreover, due to this imaginary and real physical duality certain landscapes became the artefacts. Dreamscapes (Ehn & Löfgren, 2010), or specific landscapes such as desert, hills, river or woods, due to their distinct physical characteristic are commonly perceived as the “symbolical carriers of meaning” (Reijnders, 2017). This theory also explains the search for authenticity which, according to Lacanian psychoanalysis, can be defined as a fantasy that “derives its power from the alienated nature of human condition” (Knudsen et al., 2016; Reijnders, 2017). It is, in fact, reflects the challenge of the fragmentation in the modernity with men are looking for the places which associate with wholeness of the past (Elsner & Rubiés, 1999).


Seaton (2013) takes the places of imagination even further. Metempsychosis is a sort of a tourist play which is meant to reconcile the imaginary with real, with a tourist enacting another, usually famous, person. Metempsychosis comes from the Greek concept of the reincarnation or the migration of the soul (Metempsyhosis, n.d.). As such, by following the steps of, for example, Jesus, one aims to symbolically internalize his values, strengths or character traits. When literature and media are seen as the societal myth makers of today (Campbell & Moyers, 1988), cultural tourism to the places associated with the concepts which need to be internalized can be triggered. Metempsychosis, therefore, reinforces Adler’s (1989) contention that the act of traveling is actually a performed art, where one can realize their own art piece or a fantasy by going to different places. During the times when the extreme job specialization dehumanized the employment (Knudsen et al., 2016) and there is a scarcity of time for learning a craft or a form of art, one can definitely find a refuge in such a democratic form of art as travel. Moreover, the participation can never be replaced by being a spectator.


On the other hand, by physical separation the perceived distance is established between the self as the carrier of previous social roles and the alien self without the before-mentioned social and cultural attachments. Reijnders (2017) argues that places of imagination “provide the opportunity to construct and subsequently cross the symbolic boundary between the imagined and the real world” (Reijnders, 2017), the known and unknown. This symbolic boundary, therefore, represents the threshold moment which lead to liminality, the space which is situated “betwixt and between the structural past and the structural future” (Turner, 1986, p.41). Mel, 24-year-old respondent, observed by Matthews (2014), describes such transition space as such:

“You can do whatever you want [overseas] because at home everyone knows you and knows what you’re meant to be like and so you are always sort of in that mould… Whereas here you can let loose and you don’t care…You do what you want and you don’t think about the consequences… At home… you’re sore of worrying about what other people are thinking or what your friends are thinking…here you just lose your inhibitions” (Mel, as cited in Matthews, 2014, p. 164)

What Mel outlines in her narrative is that she enters the space without previous social constructs. The liminal space opens the door to the world where dualities coexist, ambiguity is valued, the norms are “subverted, challenged, inverted and played with” (Matthews, 2014, p.160). As Tolstoy (1954) stated such places as army and church are good examples to explain the concepts of liminality. How else would a person adhere to the stringent and sometimes strange rules if they did not enter the liminal space where not only the social and spatial separation but also a complete change of dress code, hairstyle and rituals were required? In other words, liminality both encourages creativity, breaking the rules and experimentation and induces fear and insecurity. It is both “more creative and more destructive than the structural norm” (Turner, 1982, p.47). Hence, it is the fertile soil for transformation, questioning and realizing one’s values.

The Importance of Other

  • Everybody is identical in their secret unspoken belief that way deep down they are different from everyone else. –

D.F. Wallace

Alas, to realize ones socio-psychological desires without the place would be the same as to realize them without the other. Meeting new people (Crompton, 1979), exoticism (Sarup, 1996; De Botton, 2002) and the ethnographic interest for the Oriental (Elsner & Rubiés, 1999) have been among the most important factors in answering the question “Why people travel?”. Since the beginning of the travel motivations discourse (Dann, 1977; Crompton, 1979; Sarup, 1996) up to most recent observations (De Botton, 2002; Smith, 2016) the act of travel has been associated with its encounters.


First of all, the pilgrimage as the rite of passage is characterized by communitas or people co-inhabiting the liminal space. When people enter the liminal space, the old rules and roles are parked for a moment. Consequently, it raises questions about the social structures which are let go. As such, the defined by equality model communitas emerge which produce a mutual understanding and enable the tourist to reach the wholeness and connectedness they are looking for (Turner, 1974). From the account of the 22-year-old interviewee Jessica, mentioned by Matthews (2014), the experience of such communitas can be observed:

“A ski resort is not real. I mean it took a few weeks for me to settle in…because…at first I was like ‘Wow, I have nothing in common with these people!’ But after a few weeks I was like ‘Wow, I’m having so much fun!” (Jessica, as cited by Matthews, 2014, p.165)

Jessica, setting of for cultural travel experience and committing to a temporary employment at a ski resort, encountered the phenomenon of communitas with people who were beyond her previous social role (Matthews, 2014). As such, Communitas open the individual to new possibilities and often facilitates the shift of paradigm or renders a transformation. Communitas, however, are temporary. When communitas become institutionalized the new social roles develop and the phenomena loses its purpose. According to Turner (1974), “the more spontaneously “equal” the people become, the more distinctively “themselves” they become; the more “the same” they become socially, the less they find themselves individually” (p.78). As such, the best example of the spontaneous communitas is meeting a stranger, which used to happen often in pre-industrial societies but barely happens now, unless it is during the times of travel as leisure (Turner, 1974).

Other As An Agent to Realize Values

Communitas, in fact, explain the observation that one rarely searches for satisfaction by a purely hedonistic pleasure and that human actions and aspirations are embedded in the social environment (Throsby, 2001). This perfectly matches the value-based approach (Klamer, 2015). We need others to realize our values. Even the men’s need for the ego-enhancement (Dann, 1977) is realized by the interaction with others outside one’s societal constructs, where the status remains unknown, rather than by pleasure associated with high social status. Contradictory to the standard economics thought that tourism is a luxury good, the act of travel shows a lower than expected prestige motivation (Crompton, 1979). Hills (1965) further suggested that, although the budget for holidays is considered to be an essential consideration (Yuan & MacDonald, 1990), traveling experience remains “virtually priceless” (Hills, 1965) with the main aim of a journey being the importance taking in and storing “internal goods” (Hill, 1965). These internal goods or values one strives to realize when travels are the need for recognition, connectedness, diversity and gratitude which Dann (1977) and Crompton (1979) have articulated. Yet, what the recognition and connectedness would mean if there is nobody to connect with or to be recognized by? Valorisations of one’s ideals in tourism is, therefore, a social process where travel as a good is co-produced.

Volunteering travel is perhaps the best example where person’s values are realized through the other. An interviewer mentioned by Sin (2009), for example, states that “for an expedition like this [volunteering], apart from seeing the country and getting to experience it as a tourist sightseeing, there’s an added dimension of doing community service” (Anne, as cited by Sin, 2009 p.489). Here it is visible that by doing community service, contributing to other, Anne not only realized such values as humility and compassion but also gains higher knowledge through the other as she goes beyond the experience of tourist sightseeing which she considers trivial. The traveling, thus, can be thought of as an act to find and to connect with the other, to stumble upon communitas where one can re-write the lost meaning of social interaction norms (Dann, 1977).

Orientalism and Self

Crompton (1979) emphasized the novelty and diversity seeking being a push motivation for travel. The differences embedded in the other, therefore, could be another reason for seeking foreign encounters (Hawthorn, 1994; Seaton, 2009). However, anthropological concept of othering, which emerged from colonialism, had a negative connotation, assuming the other being an outsider from “the system of normality or convention to which one belongs oneself” (Hawthorn, 1994, p.141). As Seaton (2009) stated that “a motivation for temporal and spatial encounters with other cultures stimulated, …  consciously or unconsciously, by attributing to them extremes of imagined difference from their own culture(s)” (Seaton, 2009, p.77) thereby highlighting their own identity (Goffman, 1959). Therefore, meeting the other did not only mean emphasizing one’s superiority but also the discovery of self (Crompton, 1979; Wang, 2000; Seaton, 2002). Taking, for example, the writings of Richard Burton into account, “the romantic fascination with cultural differences also expressed an awareness of what Europeans, becoming civilized, had denied within themselves and left behind” (Elsner & Rubiés, 1999, p.52). As a traditional pilgrim moved towards the sacred centre from the profane, today, when the sacred had disappeared from the centre, the modern pilgrims are looking for sacred centres in the periphery (MacCannell, 1973) where the traditions and moral codes have not yet lost their importance, explaining the tourism trends which were earlier described. Moreover, this search for the superior to self difference and novelty as opposed to the prestige or status (Yuan & MacDonald, 1990), makes Cohen’s (1984) contention that tourism can be seen as a form of neo-colonialism somewhat weak.

Thus, by encountering the other one can discover the self. By analysing such practices as tourism, we strive to discover the situation at home. The post-colonial image of the other was that of traditional, primitive, ignorant, savage heathen, naïve and mysterious (Seaton, 2009). These characteristics of what later was called Orientalism were furthermore considered inferior. According to Hollinshead (1999, as cited in Jafari, 2000) these characteristics of others were not their genuine, objective identifications but rather the appropriation of the opposites in relation to self. In the contemporary society, however, these characteristics of the other remain but are used with a positive connotation. In Smith’s (2016) chapter on sustainable tourism the author mentions how the more primitive, tribal styles of life are looked up to. The other today is described as the one in harmony with nature, physically active, having strong ties with their families and communities, present and indifferent towards materiality of the world.

Even though such a perfect human example might be only authentic in one’s fantasy, it is the other’s characteristics give away the one’s perception of self as an opposite of the other.  From the discussion above and the previous observations about push motivations of travel, it can be seen that the self in the current society is still alienated and misses genuine social interaction (Smith, 2016; Dann, 1997). Additionally, modern life associates with complexity, which can be seen in the societal mental and psychological exhaustion, lack of physical activity, lack of time, hyper-reality, as opposed to reality, and disagreement with nature (Louv, 2005; Weil, 2011 as cited in Smith, 2016). Savener (2013) confirms this contention by showing that we are longing for the less alienated world. According to Savener’s (2013) interviewees most memorable moments from the trip resulted in revelations confirmed alienation pattern and looking up at the less developed societies. The examples of responses such as “at home, we do not look at each other when we pass on the street. Why is that?” or “at home, I work for someone else. It’s attractive to see them reap the benefits of their work directly.” (Savener, 2013, p. 143) reinforce the findings.

The Role of The Other in Ontological Security

From a different perspective, the encounter with the other could also be fear inducing, create uncertainty and insecurity for the tourist being in unfamiliar world (Seaton, 2009). But why would one voluntarily engage in fear inducing activity? As it can be derived from the studies on creativity Csikzentmihalyi (1996), risk-taking behaviour is encouraged by dopamine hormone, a biological reward mechanism associated with novelty and discovery. Yet, according to Giddens (1991), there is an opposite physiological mechanism of man searching for comfort or ontological security. And, usually, the need for continuity and comfort prevails (Csikzentmihalyi, 1996). In the contemporary society, however, there are two additional push motivation factors that increase the need for novelty and discovery. These are boredom and the need for truth. Besides the fact that the Western society today is so safe and comfortable and creates disequilibrium incentivizing people to take more risks, boredom is also described by Frankl (1985) as a symptom of lack of meaning or existential vacuum. From the account of Karen, who went trekking across Antarctica the manifestation of such boredom is transparent. She says:

“I just wanted to do something big, exciting, different and adventurous. […] I just wanted to get out of the mundane and do something interesting, but I didn’t know what. So I thought ‘Oh well, I’m off’ (Karen, as cited in Laing & Frost, 2014, p.38)

– indicating a lack of a higher meaning at that moment of her life. Additionally, the state of radical doubt, which arises from absence of ultimate existential issues from the societal day-to-day, pushes people to seek the other, which is not yet hidden in other cultures, as manifestation of truth (MacCannell, 1976; Giddens, 1991; Stone, 2009).

The Definition of Other

As the reader might notice, the notion of the other in the context of this discussion has not yet been defined. Whereas one might assume that the other necessarily relates to people, it does not have to be so. Within sociological discourse the other can be anything which deviates from the normality view of the observer (Seaton, 2009). In other words, the other can be anything which we would label “unusual”, “weird” or “strange”. It can apply to the places discussed by Reijnders (2011) or other non-human objects which facilitate realization of values (Klamer, 2015). The latter is in a sense of the more transcendental values of connection to nature, divine or the higher self. As MacCannell (1976) has noted, we can absorb the differences, “internalize” the qualities of the other, be it a person, an object or a place, reducing perceived distance or othering. Besides, taking the human dimension from the concept of the other, we can erase the human factor from the communitas which create the flow (Csikzentmihalyi, 1996) and “merge the action and awareness” (Turner, 1974 p.79) unconditionally.

Transformational Tourism

Transformational Theories

  • A person susceptible to “wanderlust” is not so much addicted to movement as committed to transformation. –
    – P. Iyer

Smith (2016) argues that the “cultural changes occur primarily to the indigenous [host] society’s traditions, customs and values rather than to those of the tourist” (Smith, 2016). Yet, if we look at the domain of transformational tourism (Reisinger, 2013), it can also be seen that people are affected by their travels. When our dominant knowledge constructs are shaken and the ways we have been taking for granted are challenged, which often happens during the travel, the transformation takes place (Pritchard & Morgan, 2011). It coincides with the final step in the rite of passage of reaching the goal, realizing a value of spiritual connection followed by transition or progression to another, usually superior state. (Reijnders, 2011).

Mezirow Theory of Transformation

The notion of pilgrimage, in fact, is similar to the Mezirow’s (1991) theory of transformation which is frequently used in the contemporary research with regards to transformational travel. According to Mezirow (1991) the transformations starts with a disorienting dilemma. A disorienting dilemma occurs when one is confronted with a reality that does not resonate with one’s expectations; when one is provoked with situations that do not make sense and can not be resolved by the old ways of thinking. Disorienting dilemma can be of either internal (missing meaning in life) or external (life event such as loss or illness, encountering something strange) character. Moreover, unlike disequilibrium which pushes a person to action, disorienting dilemma is a state of shock requiring the shift of perspective. Although it is possible that disorienting dilemma happens before one’s travel and produce disequilibrium incentivizing one to travel, it is not necessarily so. In tourism, disorienting dilemma is encountered independently which explains transformational power of travel.

In pilgrimage, it is during the entrance of liminal space and the encounters with the other when the disorienting dilemma takes place. Disorienting dilemma is necessary for opening oneself to the alternative ways of seeing, being and understanding (Mezirow, 1991). It is through the disorienting dilemma  new meanings are constructed, regardless of the fact if these meanings existed or not before. No matter where the disorienting dilemma is coming from and what it is used for, it can not be solved by applying the previous problem-solving skills.  For transformation to happen, the second step of Mezirow’s (1991) theory requires critical reflection on what has happened and how to handle it and the re-examination of previous assumptions. Furthermore, for the transformation mould to harden the engagement in the rational discourse, the ability to talk openly and honestly about the experience and take action, shall take place (Mezirow, 1991). By such, the pilgrim not only transforms to the superior state but takes transformation beyond oneself.

Frankl Theory of Meaningful Life

In fact, by definition the transformation entails not just a change, but rather the growth, a change for better (Pritchard & Morgan, 2011). For Frankl (1985) such transformation comes down to finding the meaning in life which is a prerequisite for a happy, fulfilled life. Frankl’s happiness or meaning in life, as one may notice, is not hedonistic. The short-term happiness which can be achieved with external pleasures does not lead to a sustainable long-term fulfilment by default. It requires some action. Tourism is not a transformational practice as such. Yet, it offers a way to shift one’s frame of mind by placing the one outside the usual environment. This corresponds with Frankl’s (1985) ways through which one can discover the meaning. Frankl (1985), thus, claims that the meaning can be achieved in three separate ways. First, by “creating a work or doing a deed”. Secondly, by “experiencing something or encountering someone” or third, by “developing an attitude towards unavoidable suffering”.

Travelling encompasses all. Firstly, the travel can be seen as praxis of performed art (Adler, 1989), or metempsychosis (Seaton, 2009). And, although I wonder if this can be true for everybody, it is accurate that by meaningful practice the wellbeing or flow can be achieved (Csikzentmihalyi, 1996). And, if one has a meaning, disequilibrium is less likely to occur. An interesting observation I made from my personal life is that artists, musicians and people who are passionate about what they are doing, in general, are happy, but less travelled. Additionally, an interesting reflexion can be made by comparing Eurostat reports on travelling trends (Eurostat, 2016a) and cultural employment (Eurostat, 2016b). The countries which have a higher statistics of cultural employment also appear to have a higher proportion of people who do not travel due to the lack of motivation, as opposed to other reasons such as health and finance, for such (Eurostat, 2016a, b).

The second way of finding meaning is by experiencing such things as “goodness, beauty and truth” by involvement with nature, culture or another human being (Frankl, 1985). Experiencing something one has not experienced before can lead to the disorienting dilemma. As one experiences the majesty or unpredicted power of nature, encounters adversity or a culture shock, there is a recognition of the social constructs which were imposed on self and taken-for-granted assumptions (Kirillova et al., 2017). Consequently, the need arises to recalibrate these beliefs and long-held views to be able to make sense of the world again. In everyday life, there is a “shield” protecting us from existential angst. Placing the one in the liminal space, however, takes away the everyday security blanket exposing one to angst and creates unsettling existential feeling. To get rid of such insecurity one needs to take an action to reclaim the personal value set. Tourism, therefore, cab become a “springboard” for transformations (Kirillova et al., 2017, p.19).

Although we do not wish the unavoidable suffering upon anyone, some types of tourism can in fact be seen as self-imposed suffering, which is essential for growth (Tedeschi, Park & Calhoun, 1998). Backpacking and volunteering, often associated with hardship, tests one’s character strengths and leads to better understanding of one’s real potential. According to one of the survival escapist mentioned by Radel and Hillman (2013) he got himself a pretty non-amusing, low scale job which he would not otherwise choose:

“Then I got a lift down to…hitching…I stopped at Bowen where I picked tomatoes for a month or something. Picking is a rotten job, I can tell you that.”(Research Participant, as cited by Radel & Hillman, 2013, p.43).

Hence, to transcend, this person had to put himself through suffering. Besides survival escapism, other tourism practices which can be of transformational nature include risky and challenging adventure tourism and extreme sports tourism (Reisinger, 2013).

Types of Transformational Tourism

But does transformation occur in all types of tourism? Or is there a particular kind of touristic practices during which the transformation is most likely to happen? According to (Kirillova et al., 2017) backpacking, volunteering and exploration of cultural heritage (both tangible and intangible) or sightseeing are significantly more effective than seaside/sunbathing vacations. As we previously mentioned, adventure and extreme sports survival escapism, nature based rural and agri-tourism, religious and spiritual tourism, wellness tourism and educational tourism can all be transformational (Reisinger, 2013; Radel & Hillman; 2013). Culture-driven travel, especially where the cultural distance is larger, places the tourist into a setting where the set of cultural indicators and the meaning framework are different from the one at home. The authenticity of one’s identity is than put into question and allows for the emergence of truly authentic selves.

The transformation, however, is less likely to to occur within the domain of mass tourism, business tourisms, visiting friends and relatives and visiting ‘no-places’ due to the fact that one is not experiencing the change of perspectives which is needed for disorienting dilemma and consequently the transformation to take place. For the same reason, traveling with a group or companion can limit transformational experience as one does not go outside of one’s usual environment. Solo tourism, on the contrary, lets the person experience the true nature of place and true connection with the temporary communitas, which characterize the transformation in pilgrimage (Bianchi, 2015; Pavlova, 2017). From my previous cyber-ethnography research on solo-travel motivations I can, furthermore provide an example of GarnetStone:

“When solo, there’s no one to break that cultural immersion with inane little comments about how different something is from “back home”. I find myself being much more “in the moment” when travelling solo.” (GarnetStone, Canada, TripAdvisor, as cited by Pavlova, 2017)

In this experience, we can see that GarnetStone acknowledges that being with someone, especially someone you have previously known, does allow for the desired experience as there is no sufficient environment change. Another account by Briggs, further gives a solo-experience a transcendental, enlightenment touch:

“Traveling solo leaves very little room for restriction and opens you to expanded ways of being. I believe we meet people we are meant to …” (Briggs, US, Facebook, as cited by Pavlova, 2017)

On the other hand, there are other factors which can influence transformation. For example, length of the trip can aid or hinder the makeover. The longer one is placed in the unusual circumstances the higher is the transformation potential. It comes from the fact that unlike epochal disorienting dilemma (i.e. sudden death of a relative), tourism produces the incremental variation of such which originates from the amalgamation of disorienting events. (Kanning, 2013)

Additionally, some demographic characteristics can affect the extent of transformation. According to Kirillova et al. (2017), education level has a significant negative effect of existential outcomes. The higher the education the less existential dilemmas arise during travelling experience. This can be explained by the fact that the university environment already provides the diversity, role models and opportunities to test alternative ways necessary to find the authentic selves. People with lower education, however, can greatly benefit from the “travel university of life” (Kirillova et al., 2017). Slightly contradictory, but nevertheless interesting observation by Dann (1977) was the higher socio-economic status, which would motivate transformational travel more. Linking these two observations could mean that perhaps the higher educated people with a higher social status would like the transformation to happen, but there is too much to let go. The empirical results about the age of the travellers differs from study to study. Some claim the older people to be more prone to disorienting dilemma due to the more pronounced alienation and loneliness (Kirillova et al., 2017; Victor & Yang, 2012). The other research, on the other hand, states that with more experience the older tourists seem to experience less cultural shock, while younger people got highly impressed by the irrelevance of the alienation in the more traditional societies (Kanning, 2013; Savener, 2013). Finally, females recounted greater changes in existential authenticity, which is possibly due to lower confidence linked to inequality (Kirillova et al., 2017).

Types of Transformations

Rite of Passage

The other interesting question to ask is if all transformations are the same or can they be classified in any particular way? Would backpacking, for example, result in the same type of transformation as extreme sports or indigenous tourism? Let us first look at backpacking as it is an experience which ticks many boxes of the transformation travel potentiality (prolonged, solo travel with the intention to learn about the world and the other) and then compare it to the other types. Moreover, backpacking has often been seen as a modern pilgrimage or the rite of passage (Matthews, 2014; Kanning, 2013; Noy, 2004).

First of all, the practice of backpacking resulted in transcending fears of separation from the customary environment and gaining more confidence (Matthews, 2014; Kanning, 2013). Secondly, in the liminal space backpackers were able to challenge the status quo of their previous lifestyle and increase self-awareness by breaking free from the rules imposed on them back home (Matthews, 2014). Backpackers have noticed their unsustainable lifestyle and uselessness of the accumulation of possessions, the persistence of materialism and how it affected their self-identity (Savener, 2013; Willson et al., 2013). Whereas possessions simplified their life at home, they became a burden while backpacking (Kanning, 2013). Thirdly, backpacking made one feeling in-the-world (Heidegger, 1972), where the backpacker was a part of communita psychologically making the world smaller and larger at the same time, making the extraordinary ordinary. (Matthews, 2014; Kanning, 2013; Noy, 2004).

Lastly, however, the transformational tourism practice is not going without critique. Some backpackers found it hard to reintegrate to the society as at home they were perceived the wasters of time which was not socially acceptable. Furthermore, they were often unable to share their experience or to feel comfortable with their old style of life (Kanning, 2013; Grabowski, 2013). As one interviewee after the volunteering experience stated:

“I think I went there expecting everything to kind of be different when I came back in a more positive way, but I feel like things have been different in a negative way” (Paola, as cited by Grabowski, 2013, p. 193)

Hereby, whereas some people can find themselves in travel, on the arrival the routine and previous social roles can be, in a negative sense, overwhelming and create more rather than less problems. However, not always were these challenges precluding the backpackers to follow their authentic selves. Many times, the experience resulted in a positive change such as a shift of a career to a more spiritually desirable practice, for example. Mike, mentioned by Kanning (2013), on the return back home decided to set up an enterprise taking high school children to the developing countries to engage them in communicative learning. From my own experience, it is the solo travel which inspired me to quit my job and enrol in a more creative Master degree study. Although the change was difficult in the beginning and I felt out of place, the transition was for the better. Who knows, maybe Paola will eventually experience the same.

For some, however, the travel became praxis and the way to experience flow (Csikszentmihalyi, 1996). Such experience is said to be unfinished and is often classified as “drifting” away from the responsibility, being a hippie or “a child of affluence” (Cohen, 1973). This negative transformation also possesses negative consequences to the society at large, although its doubtful that it happens often as drifting does not produce an eudemonic meaning in life which one search in travel.

Non Rite of Passage

With regards to the other travel types and their potential a lot can be learned from backpacking. As a matter of fact, during backpacking the tourists are usually engaging in the other experiences such as adventure and extreme sports tourism, nature and culture tourism, rural and indigenous and spiritual. It is, therefore, not surprising that, with some variation, the transformations in different travel types manifest itself in similar way. Moreover, as the transformation does not have to come with the intention to transform (Noy, 2004), it just happens, the different motivations for joining a different tourism type is irrelevant. Usually, however, some sort of grouping can be made.

As such, nature and heritage tourism allow the person to experience something greater than themselves and realize the values of the civilization, the divine, healing the ignorance and increasing humility. This type of tourism allows the tourist to realize transcendental values, feeling small and insignificant and stimulating respect for the other, the nature, the culture of others and the civilization of the humanity as a whole (Brymer, 2013; Laing & Frost, 2017; Savener, 2013).

If we look at the rural, indigenous and ethnic tourism, this type of tourism helps to breach the materialism construct, internalize the simplicity of life, mindfulness and strong social connections with the other. This type of tourism is an analogy of traveling in time where the tourist can re-learn the gist of life and get back his or her existential authenticity by realizing social and societal values (Noy, 2004; Savener, 2013).

Adventure and extreme sport tourism can heal the boredom of the modernity and post-modernity, which is the prime indicator of the existential vacuum as it was noted by Frankl (1985). In fact, the societal shift towards the experience economy away from clinging to materiality can be explained by such vacuum. Through fighting this boredom and taking risks adventure and extreme sport tourism increase one’s humility and make one existentially authentic again through all four value quadrants (Brymer, 2013).

The wellness, retreat and yoga tourism encourages a person to switch off from the noise of today and take care of the self. This type of tourism is characteristic to the high-achiever type of individuals, who are alienated from themselves. Their physical body and mind got estranged from the spirit and became the other, with which the tourist needs to reconcile. Wellness, retreat and spiritual tourism are not looking to find paradise lost outside, but rather inside. Sometime the personal value needs to be realized first for reaching the social, societal and transcendental in the future (Smith, 2013; Heintzman, 2013; Ponder & Holladay, 2013; Willson et al., 2013). To realize this personal value and transcend the spatial separation is required.

As it can be seen from the above discussion, all of the types of tourism above are the means to one end. Everyone strives for a higher goal (Klamer, 2015) or commodity (Stigler & Becker, 1977). Although it might not be an explicit travel motivationhaving defined the act of travel as a phronesis, a tourist which falls outside the definition of mass tourism can find the existential authenticity, being in-the-world (Heidegger, 1972), the oceanic feeling. Even if eventually the trip is arranged to fulfil personal, social or societal goals, every road leads to transcendence (Klamer, 2015). The level of this transformation or personal growth will vary per individual and the strength of the experienced difference they had. For some such travel as a form of modern pilgrimage will simply result in coming back to the reality fresher and positive, ready to pick up old work (Dann, 1977). For some the transformations will be more dramatic, with painful reintegration to the old society or changing a life-style completely (Noy, 2004). The moment of disorienting dilemma, moreover, can happen at any stage of the trip. If one person’s trip could be caused by the disorienting dilemma (Reisinger, 2013), another person might experience it when they are already back (Matthew, 2014; Noy, 2004). The latter might result in after-trip sadness (Noy, 2004), but that is a sign of the spiritual journey after which the critical reflection begins. First, one will contemplate on what has just happened and how to handle it. Secondly, the shift in paradigm should provide the solution. Yet, not everybody is ready for such a shift as it entails some risks. The travel experience, therefore, does not necessarily transforms the person. It gives one an opportunity to transform. Yet, it is a person’s own desire and responsibility.

Transformation Beyond Self

The final stage of such transformation manifests itself in the rational discourse in a form of action, or conversation, which can even fuel transformation beyond oneself (Kanning, 2013). On a micro level, as Turner (1974) said “when even two people believe that they experience unity, all people are felt to be one by those two, even if only for a flash. Feeling generalizes more readily than thought, it would seem!” (Turner, 1974, p.78). Additionally, travel yields a transformation in a sense of not only more authentic and humble self, but also a self who is more courageous. And, those who succeeded in “leaping ahead” (Smith, 2013, p.62) have a greater potential to inspire other, enabling them to appreciate their possible prospective for being authentic as well. With regards to the host societies, tourism is also able to generate more than purely economic exchange. There is a critique that these societal changes instigated by the travellers to the societies of host are not always positive. Yet, some of them are (Kanning, 2013). Moreover, the learning and the change in a lifestyle which happens during travel can affect the traveller’s own community, “idealistically lead[ing] to changes on a local level” (Kanning, 2013, p.134) on traveller’s return, which has a potential to foster institutional changes, the changes in culture of the society. It all begins with single individuals and their changed worldviews. After that, the reflection of this transformation takes place in the society which they inhabit (Kanning, 2013).

By the same token, Ponder and Holladay (2013) argued that “amplified consciousness and understanding is carried back to the home community and transferred to the other communities” (Ponder & Holladay, 2013, p.102), similar to the concepts of learning and knowledge transfers through local buzz and global pipelines (Bathelt, Malmberg & Maskell, 2004). In effect, sharing a positive experience motivates others to discover themselves and travel, which can at a certain point reach a critical mass and “guide a shift of consciousness” (Ponder & Holladay, 2013, p.104). This happens due to the fact that the tipping point represents an instant after which social behaviours spread in geometrical progression, just like a virus does (Gladwell 2002, as cited by Ponder & Holladay, 2013, p. 104).

The 3 Levels of Transformation Through Othering

The Idea

  • Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.-

Hence, transformation is a form of positive change. This positive change ultimately results in one’s improved well-being. Note, that unlike happiness, which is short-term and hedonic, well-being is a sustainable eudemonic state signifying a fulfilling life. According to Frankl (1985) well-being can only be achieved when one has a meaning in life. The sources of meaning are (1) praxis, (2) love or (3) suffering. Tourism reveals itself in all these forms – in praxis when the tourism is performed art, in love through the encounters with the other and through suffering which, in tourism, is often self imposed through long journeys, limited resources or exhausting and extreme activities. Through this thesis, which is considered a journey, I mainly focused on the transformation through the other. The other as a mirror of self. From the clues which I found during this journey, the 3 Level of Transformation Through Othering framework came to existence and which I would like to introduce.






The Transformation Through Othering can manifest itself in following 3 forms:

  • Experience of Dissonance or Consonance
  • Experience of Dissonance and Consonance Simultaneously
  • Experience of Unison

The Framework

Before we go into details, let us first describe the relationships depicted in the Figure 2 and reminding the reader the theory we covered and explaining the overarching logic the model. As you might recall, the transformation first step is experiencing disorienting dilemma. Although the disorienting dilemma can be a push motivational factor for someone to travel, it is not necessarily so and during the journey another disorienting dilemma occurs from the entering of the liminal space and experiencing the other. Consequently, encounters with the other manifest either in consonance and/or dissonance or in a unison.

Initially, I wanted to start the model with indifference to realize that it can not be in the scope of discovering other. Unless a person has a disorder which inhibits the reaction to novelty in amygdala[3], such is psychopathy, the person’s brain will be stimulated when experiencing something new. The amygdala is responsible for emotional learning and stores the memories associated with the emotional events. Novelty is an emotional event which requires building new neural connections. These connections can be positive or negative and are there to shape the meaning of the moment (Barrett, 2017).

While experiencing consonance (positive emotion) or dissonance (negative emotion) is sympathetic and motivates and inspires, experiencing both results in juxtaposition of such and results in empathy. Unison, however, is the ultimate goal and the highest level of transformation one can achieve which reveals itself in a loss of ego (hold on, we will get back to it!). To experience the unison, the encounter requires participation, being a part of the other, whereas the consonance or the dissonance do not. Moreover, whereas at the first and the second level of transformation it is the personal authentic selves which we are trying to realize, by unison we seek the existential self which is shared among more people. In other words, all of us are looking to find the exactly same chief good, the fundamental telos of existence (Klamer, 2015). The importance of unison can not be underestimated and will later be explained in a greater detail. For now, let us consider another important angle before we move to the levels of transformation step by step.

The Link with Cultural, Social and Oikos Spheres

As such, the framework can also be made more comprehensible by explaining if from the perspective of Klamer’s (2015) spheres of operation. As we discussed, traveling and experiencing the other can rather be explained from cultural, social or oikos spheres. Although traveling is an economic activity, what one is trying to acquire by participating in such are mainly non-material “internal goods” (Hills, 1965). When we look at the first level of transformation, either dissonance or consonance, we operate in a cultural sphere where the relationships are mainly incidental. Travelling is a ritual from which we derive meaning by getting to a distinct cultural sphere of other, having a peak at the other’s cultural idiom and realize how we feel about different norms – do they fit to us or do they not? (Klamer, 2015). To describe it with an example, from my personal account, I once travelled with a friend to a wedding ceremony in Tunisia. In 45 degrees of heat the bride had to be hidden from the eyes of all men and only 2 or 3 ladies had access to her, bringing her food or water. Besides, while the ladies of the tribe were literally arranging the wedding – carrying heavy tables, cooking, setting up the stage – the men of the village were just sitting on the floor, sipping the tea. Yet, despite all this inequality, society could coexist so peacefully and everyone seemed happy with their role. This incidental experience has literally transferred me to the other Klamer’s (2015) cultural dimension to which I could not relate. Although this wedding was one of the more interesting experiences in my life, I realized that I am so happy where I am and could never be a part of this conversation, thus could only relate to it as to a foreign cultural sphere.

When we look at the transformations from both sides – dissonance and consonance, it is the social sphere we are shifting to. By shifting to the social sphere, cultural sphere remains, we are dealing with somebody closer than the superficial other. Here, we are also associating with a neighbour, a helpful stranger, a friend, whose negative points we can tolerate and live with. We emphasize with this neighbour, accept one’s hospitality and give gifts, buy souvenirs as a gesture even if we do not need them. As such, the second level of transformation builds solidarity, social inclusion and sense of belonging despite the ambivalence. Returning to the previous example, at he ceremony continued, I discovered a point where I could relate to the people of the tribe. They were warm to me as a guest and despite the fact I was not Muslim I was treated like family, with curiosity and interest. I found it so amusing when they were laughing at me holding a baby goat. In a gesture of reciprocity, I was helping the ladies to cook, organize and clean. As such, the first layer of stereotypes was broken and a stranger became a friend despite the differences.

As we move up another level we come closer to oikos or home. When we experience unison we realize loyalty, care and love. With the participation, the stranger becomes family. All becomes one. During during the ceremony of the wedding, mentioned above, the only beverage was strong sugary tea everyone. Without a need to get a little tipsy, all – men, women, children and guests were dancing together without any inhibition. The shell of insecurity was gone for me as well and I could belong to, rather than be an observer of the wedding ritual. During this night of dances under the noise of darbouka[4] I connected to these people more than I connect to some of my neighbours or colleagues back home. Anytime I meet a Tunisian person now, I can not help but to see them as a part of my extended family.

Therefore, it is the combination of three spheres which we arrive to at the last transformation level, where transcendental goods such as faith, hope and love, the roots of The Tree of Life (Klamer, 2015) are acquired. How do we arrive there? It is now a matter of explaining the traveling as a phronesis. Stay tuned for the theory to unfold.

I Experience of Dissonance or Consonance

The first level of transformation occurs when one, encountering the other experiencing either the dissonance or consonance. It is a one-sided feeling one would experience from the encounter and can be related to the theory of first impressions (Willis & Todorov, 2006).


In dissonance, the individual will have a difficulty relating to the other. In other words, the differences perceived will be considered negative by the observer because they do not correlate with one’s personal value system. The moment when the individual experiences dissonance can be compared to the disequilibrium which triggers motivation. Deci and Ryan (2008) look at motivation not related to a particular action but rather as a phenomenon of its own. According to the authors this macro-level motivation is responsible for such things as self-regulation, life-goals, personality development and aspirations (Bhasing, Hitters & Wijgaarden, 2015). The autonomous motivation is said to be influenced by social environment and culture and reinforced by an individual internalizing the cues from the surrounding environment. Lockwood, Jordan and Kunda (2002) argued that this type of motivation comes from the negative role models who represent “a feared self”.

On the other hand, experiencing dissonance with the other an individual can become motivated on a macro-level from the increased contentment with own situation at home, “appreciating what one has” (Savener, 2013). In other words, the difference confirms the existential authenticity of the person. In analogy with a research on the ultimate other of death, seeing the dissonant other which is absent from our immediate surrounding due to sequestration (i.e. old, ugly, greedy, morally wrong) also gives one the perceived distance and immunity from internalizing such other, adding up to ontological security (Stone, 2009). This also compares with the (Trussler & Soroka, 2014) research of why we get “a kick” from the negative news and with the phenomena of Orientalism in anthropology (Seaton, 2009).

I also argue that the dissonance can not result in a sustained negative emotion such as aversion, apathy or hate in the context of tourism and experiencing novelty. First, it has to do with the reaction to the culture shock, which it of U-shaped curve. To put it into perspective, when experiencing the novelty of the difference the initial response to it is euphoria, which is followed by disillusionment, then the dissonance which expresses itself in hostility, to which a person gradually adopts and assimilates (Hottola, 2004). As dissonance is already a dislike, or hostility, there is only a path up towards the adaptation and assimilation remains. However, this adaptation and assimilation is of a rather a control character, when the outcome of the intercultural learning is to develop control over one-self and to be able to better predict and regulate external uncertainties to which on is vulnerable in an alien surroundings (Hottola, 2004). This experience, hereby, increases one’s confidence which can aid a person’s motivation.

Figure 3 – U-Curve of the Culture Shock

Source: Adapted from Hottola (2004, p. 448)

The U-shaped cultural shock model, however, is criticized for being one-sided. As it is often beyond the travellers aims to adopt and to assimilate into the other society, the hostility to difference can develop into a flight response (see adaptation in the Figure 3), or as we discussed before, going back to the comfort zone and feeling safe and motivated to remain there. Even though the life at home might have seemed blunt before. Moreover, in a world which is more globalized the culture shock experiences will be less confronting and substitute rather a confusion than a shock. The confusion as such is less likely to develop in a permanent apathy or hate. The confusion is rather a liminal space from the rite of passage where the old meanings are temporary put on hold and will be either emphasized, especially in the case of the dissonance, or new meanings will be created.

In addition, the dissonance will not graduate to a more negative form due to to the matter of how our brains work. In fact, our present reality is constructed from the past experiences. To make the meaning of the world our brain sends a query back to the memory database and comes up with a collage which can more-or-less rationally explain the novelty (Barrett, 2017). Second to that, there is a concept of simulation. In simple example, if the food looks appealing, one thinks that it will taste good, although it might not necessarily be so (Barrett, 2017). Same happens when one goes for a trip of holidays. Our brain associates the holiday experience with rest, relaxation, freedom and also something which is temporary. Therefore, in the context of tourism our emotional response to travel encounters will be tilted towards more positive. One usually goes for a self-induced trip with an excitement and in a more positive frame of mind. This serves as a protection mechanism for the dissonance to evolve into a greater negative emotion (Barett, 2017). At most dissonance will produce dislike, pity or disgust.

To conclude: Upon encountering a dissonance with the ‘other’ a positive transformation through motivation arises. Dissonance may lead to finding of one’s existential authenticity and provide ontological security. Dissonance produces dislike, pity or disgust.


When one’s values go in accord with the differences encountered, this is called a consonance. As this theory is inspired by the music theory the consonance means a “combination of notes which are in harmony with each other due to the relationship between their frequencies” (Consonance, n.d.). Just as notes, people have their own frequencies, or their existential authentic selves with a set of certain values which gives personal meaning to life. When one person can relate to the other in a positive way, experiencing consonance, it can lead to finding the authentic self by internalizing the qualities of the other. Whereas the dissonance increases person’s motivation in general, the effect of the consonance is inspiration. Inspiration is a “process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, especially to do something creative” (Inspiration, n.d.). Thrash and Elliot (2003) emphasized that, triggered by external stimuli, inspiration leads to transcendence of the routine and creates awareness for new opportunities (Bhasing et al., 2015). It can also be related to the theory of the role models (Lockwood et al., 2002) who can set the aim for people and help to keep a focus on the long-term goals. Inspiration, moreover, is said to mediate and moderate eudemonic form of being, leads to personal growth, aids in achievement of goals, facilitates the states of positive affect and increases vitality (Bhasing et. al., 2015).

To conclude: Upon encountering a consonance with the ‘other’ a positive transformation through inspiration arises. Consonance may lead to finding of one’s existential authenticity. Consonance produces sympathy.

II Experience of Dissonance and Consonance Simultaneously

The second level of transformation occurs when one, upon encounter with the other experience both the dissonance and consonance simultaneously. The feeling one would experience from the encounter is two sided and it is a second step of reflection accepting both the other and the self. Combined dissonance and consonance trigger both motivation and inspiration. In this simultaneous process one recognizes both similarities and differences in the other which results in the acceptance of the both worlds. One learns to appreciate and look up to the other despite the differences the other possess. The mixed emotions which arise from the duality are stronger that singular emotions and can result in anxiety (Freud, 1938) and amusement (Scott, 1994) at the same time. Unlike in the example of solely dissonance which produces disequilibrium, motivating a person to action, the duality produces disorienting dilemma necessary for a deeper level transformation, requiring shifting perspectives (Mezirow, 1991).

The phenomenon of experiencing dual emotion is also called polarizing (Pugmire, 1996). To explain what it is, Pugrime (1996) pointed out that polarizing also occurs when one is staring at art. “I might be aghast at Iphigenia’s fate at her father’s hand, but that can not (had better not) induce me to organize a rescue operation in the theatre or hold a wake of her” (Pugrime, 1996, p.35). Same situation can happen during tourism, as an example, if one travels to Russia, he or she might be outraged about the lack of freedom and people’s apathy towards it. At the same time the tourist can enjoy the hospitality of the Russian host, despite being angry about the same host’s apathy. The bitter-sweet symphony of motivation to be different and inspiration to be similar is therefore produced. The feeling of empathy towards this person is awaken. Knudsen et al. (2016) provide with another good example where the tourist sets to see the exotic and authentic other, a supposed opposite of the self, to encounter people quite similar to themselves.

“In the Miao village, tourists came in search of (authentic) primitive, humble, quiet people (to which they could bring humanitarian gifts of seeds and perform the self they want to be), but what they found were exuberant and entrepreneurial villagers aggressively selling their goods. To put it frankly, the tourists encountered not their opposites, but people all too familiar.” (Oakes, 2006, as cited in Knudsen et all., 2016)

Such encounters of the familiar, often perceived in a not very positive way and can result in the disorienting dilemma followed by a deeper reflection.

Another interesting insight to the real-life dualities is the varying propensity to accept it among people with different age, with the older people being more accepting. It coincides with the assumption that older people, with higher experience capital, have already internalized the duality and understood “the relativism of values and the life goals” (Williams & Aaker, 2002, p.638). The resistance to conflicting feelings, moreover, can increase overall well-being. Humans are essentially ambivalent, yet the modern and post-modern culture rejects the duality (Weigert, 1991). The exposure to such duality can help to get even with nature and to find more content and meaningful life. According to Amber (as cited in Willson et al., 2013, p.161) “through seeing the kids in Peru with so little, but they were so happy, that made me evaluate some things in my life”. As such the duality of the dissonance to poverty and consonance of happiness motivated Amber to come back home and inspired her to give away her accumulated possessions (Willson et al., 2013) Similar accounts could be found in the stories of missionary travellers (Lee & Gratzel, 2013) and rural/tribal travellers (Savener, 2013).

To conclude: Upon encountering both a dissonance and consonance with the ‘other’ a positive transformation through motivation and inspiration arises. Coalescence of dissonance and consonance may lead to finding of one’s existential authenticity and provide ontological security. It also leads to increase in empathy.

III Experience of Unison

The highest level of transformation is the unison or when the border between the self and the other no longer exists, the self is the other, the inseparable. The term for this transformation has been first coined by Freud’s friend Romain Rolland as an oceanic feeling (Freud, 1930), which Heidegger (1972) later described as being in-the-world. The meaning of the oceanic feeling, as it was formulated by Freud (1930) is the pre-ego state or Jung’s (1980) death of ego. Heidegger (1972) explained it as the ultimate union or being the world. Another author who tries to describe this feeling is Csikszentmihalyi (1996) who terms it as flow which is related to activity in which the actor is completely absorbed, becoming one with the practice. In Csikszentmihalyi’s theory (1996) the flow or oceanic feeling is the fundamental happiness, in yoga it is described as ultimate bliss (Patanjali, 1978/400CE), some also describe it as love (Frankl, 1985; McCloskey, 2006). The oceanic feeling concept, moreover, is quite persistent in the world religions and is the goal of any spiritual practice.

The search for the oceanic state could be accomplished through journeys. For many, to internalize such feeling the journey has to be not only internal but also spatial (Reijnders, 2011). Pilgrimage was, therefore, one of the first most important and reliable ways of reaching this state. Camino de Santiago, for example, was dedicated to reaching the ocean, both in a literal and figurative way. But, I can only imagine someone walking 3 months towards the ocean to say “Finally!” and dread the just-as-long walk back home. The transformation that happens, in fact, arises somewhere amid the journey where liminality and communitas take place (p.38, p.40).

If we assume that being a tourist is already a liminal space for that we do not categorize the tourists by their professions as neurosurgeons, waiters or accountants, what would then need to happen for the highest level of the transformation to materialize? The answer is participation. As the first levels of transformation could only be realized by observing, here there is a necessity to partake. If we look at the pilgrimage as the example, such partaking is called communitas, the unorganized communities consisting of status-less participants. What happens in the communitas is that the participants are engaging in the social interactions they would not regularly engage in due to the difference of status, race or gender (Matthews, 2014).  Where status has lost its importance the behaviour of the individuals could also change. The abnormal life-style becomes the new normal (Matthews, 2014).

The meaning of such participation, in turn, lends to the feeling deeply connected with the other (Knudsen et al., 2016), being the one, transcending the fragmented self and the consequent ego loss. It is comparable with the loss of ego during the times of the pilgrimage where many different people independent of status were trying to reach the same goal. As the pilgrim was a part of this co-liminal mass, he became this mass, transcending the self and losing the ego (Turner, 1974). In today’s touristic practice, for example, backpacking and volunteering offer similar environment (Kanning, 2013; Matthews, 2014; Noy; 2004; Lyons & Wearing, 2008). Additionally, it manifests in such collective practices as festivals or other ritualistic rites of passage, such as attending somebody’s wedding.

However, the loss of ego not necessarily happens in partaking of activities with other people. As it was mentioned earlier, the other can be anything which is not our ego or self. In adventure tourism, for example, one is taking part in, playing with the nature. When the fear of the difference, the power of nature, is transcended, a surfer and the wave becomes one, a human is a part of an ocean, the part of nature and a feeling of compassion emerges. Looking at the accounts of the female mountaineer and Laird Hamilton, a big wave surfer, below it can be seen that the real connection between the man and the nature is established.

“Talking about a comparison with something that people can relate to, you can only really experience total love if you open your heart to it, and that makes you vulnerable, doesn’t it? And I would say that in a wild environment, even if you don’t open your heart to it, you are vulnerable because that’s just the way it is. You are just a tiny little thing; very fragile . . . It’s about feeling at one with the whole world, the whole universe. It’s about understanding why, and you can’t put it into words. You can’t . . .You have to experience it to really know what it’s about.” (BM, female mountaineer, mid-30s, as cited in Brymer, 2013)

“You’re not going to protect something that you don’t appreciate and that you don’t care about. So, you have to make people care and nothing. . . no better way to make somebody care about it than to participate in it, with it. And then they get a feeling – ‘Hey, I care about it! What’s going . . . how can we help it?’” (Laird Hamilton in Bartlett, 2008, as cited in Brymer, 2013).

Besides, both show increased levels of compassion both towards the nature and towards the vulnerable self.  In analogy, in heritage tourism, one takes part in a history and comes in union with time, being a part of eternity. By being consciously in the moment, one could start feeling the loss of the dimension of time and be a part of the past, the present and the future simultaneously. The human lifetime, in comparison to history, is just a blink, realization of which results in the loss of ego. Robert and Annelise, upon encountering Roman arena, remember:

“This was a fascinating place . . . we walked underneath it into the place where they kept the lions in cages . . . the place contained spiritual echoes . . . you could feel the torment of the people who would have been there before they died . . . [it was] overwhelming.” (Robert and Annelise, as cited in Harrison, 2003)

By traveling to Rome, therefore, Robert and Annelise were also able to transcend the dimension of time, better connect to history and the civilization, feel the spirituality of the place. Moreover, as the world is becoming a global village, by travelling through different places one can zoom out, experience interconnectedness of all and realize oneself to be a citizen of the world, the part of a greater whole (Matthews, 2014). The greatest level at which such a zoom out happens is the overview effect which occurs to astronauts, the furthest way one can travel. The first to feel this profound connection was Rusty Schweikart:

“When you go around the Earth in an hour and a half, you begin to recognize that your identity is with that whole thing. That makes a change… it comes through to you so powerfully that you’re the sensing element for Man.” (Schweikart, as cited in Hauss, 1996).

This example summarises the experience of the unison and communitas at the highest possible level.

To conclude: Upon encountering a unison a positive transformation through the loss of ego occurs. This unison is the subconscious universal human aim at charity or spiritual love, the existential authenticity of all humans, the fundamental telos and a manifestation of compassion.  




  • Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy to a friend. – 

Martin Luther King Jr

To quote Adam Smith – “to restrain selfish affections and indulge our benevolent affections constitutes the perfection of human nature. Only through this man can have the harmony of sentiments and passions” (Smith, 2010/1759, p.12). And in this harmony the chief good, the happiness, or what Aristotle called the excellence, is achieved. According to Aristotle, happiness is “living and faring well” (Aristotle, 1999, p.10) which can be seen as excellence, the art of life. The excellence is the mean in between two vices, excess and defect. If the virtue of courage is to be considered, the man who has too much is reckless and the man who has too little is a coward.

The excellence (the moral as opposed to intellectual) is said to come to us by nature and to be perfected by habit. The surroundings of one, thereby, play an instrumental role in forming a good habit. One shall be lucky to have surroundings which inspire excellence. If it is not the case, what not more than the expansion of such surroundings can help? As it can be read in Smith (1759): “A man uses each of his faculties as a standard by which he judges the same faculty in someone else” (p.8). If selfish men, thereby, can expand their surroundings and relate to the other, the nature of this man can change and a new habit can be developed. The selfishness decreases with relating more deeply to the other. As one can receive more sympathy from friend than from a stranger, it is best if one who is selfish transcends to becoming no stranger with the other. It is, in other words, the ability to relate to the other which can restrain the selfish affection and bring a man closer towards the excellence through which the happiness is achieved.

According to Freud (1930), the boundaries of I and You are gone the moment one is in love, which is how the author is able to describe the oceanic feeling. The ego loss, the love, therefore enables for the selfless action through which the balance between the pleasure and pain (excess and defect) can occur. Since it is always easier to chose for the excess or pleasure, the selfless action is needed to balance it out towards the defect. The need for the love for the other is, therefore, an instrument for courage of choosing the pain for a greater good. By sacrificing some pleasures and accepting the little pains, the eudemonic happiness which lies in “positive relations with others, autonomy, environmental mastery, self-acceptance, personal growth and purpose in life” (Heintsman, 2013, p. 76) is achieved. And how can the one acquire this love? By participation, by getting to know each other. As an old Russian proverb goes “no one spits into the well from which one drinks”. That is why surfers care about the ocean pollution and the ones who was able to engage with the other community go long way to provide help. Perhaps that is why love is considered the ultimate, the most important virtue (McCloskey, 2006) as all the other virtues are either based on or dedicated to love just as all the roads lead to Rome. Love is there for a greater good of all.

As before one used to “worship” and pay respect to animal in sacrifice, to the nature to give us food (Campbell & Moyers, 1988), we are now in the era where the love is most misunderstood and, as McCloskey (2006) said, we are now the “users”, the “consumers” and the “national park customers”. The disequilibrium, however, is intensely felt in our existential crisis, where the higher desire for authenticity from the fragmentation occur (Knudsen et al., 2016). The best way to curb this disequilibrium is to dump individualism and get out to meet the other. In the society of rising fear, its rather liberating to realize that the devil is not as black as he is painted. There is no need for new religious institution as there is well too many, but there is an existential need for love. So is that true for everyone?

As Freud (1930) explains, this universal existentiality is embedded in us since the moment we were a child. The child perceives the mother not as the other, but as an extension of self, the ego is yet to develop. An ego, in fact, is a nature’s protection mechanism which develops as the child becomes independent and the duality of the internal and external emerges. Thereby, in analogy with the Marxists’ societal fragmentation, Lancanian psychoanalysis attributes alienation to the separation from the M(other) which creates “a condition of a (split) Subject” (Knudsen et al., 2016, p.39). This results in the subconscious desire for a constant search where symbolically finding the M(other) results in the ego loss. And, although Knudsen et al., (2016) argued that this search is a fantasy and, therefore, can never be realized, the accounts of this thesis research seem to prove otherwise. The feeling of ego-less state is not forgotten and “this primary ego-feeling has persisted to a greater or less degree” (Freud, 1930, para. 7). The oceanic feeling, hereby, arises to remind us that we are one and are, hence, dependent on the well-being of the other. Today, in times of lack of love, the universal existential authenticity is highly sought after. And travel, what is it good for? Well, travel has a potential of reminding us of being an ego-less child, who is an origin of peace.

This higher love, or charitas, should not, however, be confused with the other types of love. The other types of love do not transcend the You and I, such love as need, gift or appreciation (McCloskey, 2006). As McCloskey (2006) described it, the need-love is the most selfish and is a “source of our misery” (McCloskey, 2006, p. 101); however, it is the love which persist the most in the postmodern society. The gift love as an empathy love and appreciation as a mature friend love are both of a higher level, yet both separate the subject and the object. Meeting the other and experiencing either dissonance, consonance or both together can lead to the gift or appreciation love. Yet there are dangers involved; such dangers, among others, as the jealousy and pride. These loves, nevertheless, and even the need-love, are not useless all striving for a greater good, and just a step on a way to charitas.

From Heaven to Earth

-zation: Globalization, Commoditization, Digitalization and Institutionalization

To come back from Heaven to Earth, can travel really have such a potential for the transformation? Firstly, the globalization and commoditization made travelling just another leisure experience. Secondly, digitalization made the full separation from the home quite questionable. Last but not least, the traveling is institutionalized, with all being similar and set in home luxury. Indeed, one should remain critical considering tourism potentiality in creating world peace.

To start with the globalization and commoditization, Barber (1992) came up with the dialectic between the Jihad and McDonalds. As McDonalds represents a uniform low-quality capitalistic world, it seems like a high price to pay for a loss of “independence, community and identity” (Barber, 1992). That is, perhaps, why the developmental programmes concerning education are met with violence in Iraq and Afghanistan (Child, 2017). What then one’s search for authenticity will mean if all the world can offer is the “high-end” American cuisine culture? How novelties and differences one needs to transcend can be found by a post-tourist? Jihad, in turn, even though the author used a term with such negative connotation, presents us with “revival of protectionism” (Barber, 1992) which is needed to maintain this difference. Thus, the differences still exist.

I argue, moreover, that this dialectic arises from a view which is everything, but cosmopolitan. As cosmopolitanism can be translated as global citizenship, where all human beings belong to a single community, it is at most importance to the cosmopolitanism to retain the differences. True cosmopolitanism entails being in the world which made of other worlds and hence characterized by polyhedral culture. As such, when certain culture has a set of values, being cosmopolitan requires a few to make the set of values a whole, to be able to understand and emphasize with the other. Tourism, therefore, even in a time of globalization, still offers such possibility. For those staying at home, however, the world might seem to represent the McDonalds and Jihad dichotomy (Barber, 1992).

With regards to the critics of increased comfort and being away without being away, when one can instantaneously get in contact with one’s usual home environment, Matthews (2014) has proved it wrong and having an opposite effect which was least expected. Researching backpackers, experiences in analogy with pilgrimage as a rite of passage, the author has questioned if the concept of liminality is still present in the modern-day tourism. In fact, both, digitalization and increased comfort, make the differences even more pronounces as compared to home. Speaking with family members over the digital methods have reinforced the perception of the cultural differences and questioning the self and the other, whereas the increased comfort made the backpackers feel out of place (Matthews, 2014).

Misunderstanding and Subjective Truth

From another perspective, even if the differences are still there, these differences can be easily misunderstood, especially if the tourist in the possession of poor cultural capital. However, the word misunderstood already provides the duality of the right and wrong, coming back to where we came from – “enlightenment, scientific rational, capitalism dominated models” (Swain, 2009, p.507). As I provided in the methodology, the knowledge has become too institutionalized and purposeful, whereas the communicative learning is what needed to form one’s own opinion about the world. Adhering to the same truths, the sustainability of which is questionable, can result in path-dependence. The innovation, which is said to be the movement of all the progress, requires looking at things from a different angle.

Transformational learning requires (re)-interpretation of old or new experiences from a new set of expectations, acquiring new meanings and perspectives. In fact, this approach is used not only in education and tourism, but also in economic geography, where global pipelines which entail tacit knowledge are needed to expand one’s expertize to a new level (Bathelt et al., 2004). This tacit knowledge is not set in stone and represent some unwritten rules and practices, which one can not experience while indulging in “arm-chair” tourism. It is communicative learning which helps to develop new values we need (Reisinger, 2013; Kanning, 2013, p.133).

Elitist Problem

Another potential problem with tourism is tourism being an elite activity as one has to have sufficient economic capital to travel.  Will it not create an advantage to the higher status individuals? Indeed, it might. It might create a tension for the hosts and for the society at home who can not afford the luxury of travel. There are two points, however, how despite this negative factor the tourism is still beneficial. First of all, the tourism today is perhaps the most accessible it has ever been. This also comes back in the backpackers’ research, with backpackers usually travelling on a tight budget and participating in a non-commercialized travel economy (i.e. Couchsurfing as opposed to AirBnB), making backpacking perhaps even more affordable than staying at home and allowing the backpacking community to enjoy the diversity not only of cultures but also of social statuses (Kanning, 2013).

Moreover, today one of the indicators of the material deprivation which is associated with the risk of poverty and social exclusion is “not being able to afford one week’s annual holiday away from home” (Eurostat, 2016c). That said, not being able to engage in tourism is not available to the poorest members of our society, as in the scope of this paper we are looking at the Western world. Not being able to travel, therefore, can result in social exclusion. Therefore, there are now many initiatives organized by governments and NGOs which subsidize tourism for the poorest part of the population, promoting the social inclusion of such (Reisinger, 2013). Consequently, the travel in contemporary society can be seen as one of the needs rather than an elitist activity.

With regards to the travels of people with the higher social status, traveling can be an eye-opening, transformative experience for someone who has never encountered poverty or simpler styles of life. Finally, it is the toffs of the society who are unhappy (Dann, 1977). Thus, it is precisely the elite which can have the most positive effect from travel by experiencing the ego-loss needed for the higher good of the societal well-being. In fact, we can see this collective transformation happening with the increase of generosity and serenity, described by Maffesoli (2004). The new age to which we are moving can be characterized by the return to antiquity where the spiritual love was important (Maffesoli, 2004).


Even if the initial intention for travel is a personal pleasure, tourism is a praxis which is needed for the realization of personal and social shared goods. By going for relaxation and separation, the real good one is striving to realize is being a good friend or significant other, having a good family. In fact, any seemingly useless experience (i.e. bucket list travel, Instagram selfies with tigers) can have a meaning which lays beyond pure hedonism. One thereby is looking for a shared good of friendship, relationships, a good collegial atmosphere or such. Moreover, by being anxious and tired, one can not contribute to the shared goods as much. Taking care of the personal values, therefore, sometimes is needed for a greater good. It is a good thing that travel, with all its transformational potential, became a leisure, since only 20% of the population have an “explorer gene” (Laing & Frost, 2014, p.42; Dobbs, 2013).

I also argue that the four domains of goods or values to strive for (Klamer, 2015) are not independent but have a circular connection. In other words, when personal values are realized it contributes to the realization of the social values, the social values are contributing to the societal ones, the realization of societal values can lead to transcendental ones which than circles back to the personal values again. The transcendental values, however, where the chief good of love as charity is experienced, can contribute to the other 3 domains. In other words, for the transcendental values to be realized, the participation is required. When they are realized, in turn, they can positively affect the realization of the others, bringing them to another level (see adaptation in the Figure 4). As such, a fellow traveller who had a transformational experience, can than transcend into a true spiritual guru (Smith, 2013, p. 62). Although it can be argued that all the values are inter-related and that societal and social values can be instrumental to achieve the personal, it is not necessarily so. Even though I do not exclude such an effect, it can often be seen that one focused on the societal goals only can be forgoing his or her personal and social goals, take many inspirational world leaders or scientists as an example:

Figure 4 – The Values Flow

Source: adapted from Klamer (2015, p.59)

In fact, this also solves for problematic with the Maslow’s (1966) hierarchy of needs, which places self actualization on the top of the pyramid. When, actually, self-actualization can apply and contribute to whatever stage persons of the hierarchy. When ultimate transformation happens, all the other parts of one’s existence can experience a positive effect.

Permanency of Transformations

Mezirow (2008) argued that the transformations, once achieved, are permanent. Can we in fact say that if the one experiences the oceanic feeling or love one is forever good? Indeed, we can contemplate on the fact that once something is experienced, it is impossible to “unsee”. We live, analyse and judge the world in accordance with out memories, our reality is constructed from the bits and bobs of the experiences we have (Barett, 2017).  Yet, if we follow this reasoning, the world should already be in peace as we are born ego-less and moral, but this is often not the case. Our experiences of awe and epiphany should be reinforced by practice. As any other art, the art of life requires perfection of skills which is formed by a thoughtful, repeated action. Mezirow (1991) argued that the transformation is only accomplished when the shift in our perspective is followed by a rational discourse, such as engagement in a conversation and taking an action.

Lennik and Kiel (2011), moreover, explained the neuroscience behind this. All our actions are done automatically through the brain habit centre basal ganglia. Although the classic economics speak about rationality, the rationality is weaker than the emotional centre of one’s brain. Therefore, “strong feelings can affect the quality of one’s thinking” (Lennik & Kiel, 2011, p.50). The shift of the perspective towards love, sets the person into a positive frame of mind, activating the reward system for the compassionate action. The action, however, needs to be repeated for the formation of the habit to take place. Luckily, acting in consistency with one’s values pays off (Lennik & Kiel, 2011). In fact, what stands on a way to a positive transformation are the moral viruses and destructive emotions which produce misalignments in our built-in moral compass. Moral viruses, like an adware, can be compared to negative stereotypes coming from the external sources. Destructive emotions, just as a part of human nature, are something from within (greed, hate or jealousy), the workings of ego which serve as a protective mechanism. Traveling, is a good way to get rid of the moral viruses by challenging our beliefs. Destructive emotions can be managed by cultivating a positive emotional state. Again, traveling, both as a temporary relaxation and as a praxis, can bring the bar of our emotions up, contributing to a more permanent transformation.

Applications to Life


Of course, the world is not and will never be perfect. However, the transformative power of tourism can not be denied. As more and more people can experience the world, other cultures and landscapes, the level of the empathy and resistance towards the instrumentalism grows. Broadening the horizon and participating in less familiar and strange shuts down our danger system mechanisms which in the world, which is more secure than it has ever been, is essentially useless. The 3 Levels of Transformation Through Othering came by exploring the field of transformational tourism. The 3 Levels of Transformation Framework shows the encounters with others can motivate and inspire, create empathy and ontological security and help to find an authentic self. The highest level of the transformation results from the loss of ego which is an obstacle for a greater good.

Although this framework was developed on the basis of tourism, it is not exclusive to the field. It can be applicable to the other domains just as successfully. Travel facilitates a more open mind, but why is it so? Because the person encounters others in a participatory manner, the learning of the world comes from the personal experience and the individual is able to relate and feel a sympathy for a stranger which becomes a friend. Likewise, such interactive learning and participation can shorten the divide in any field. The answers of problems of capitalism are already highlighted in sociology, the answers to problems of postmodernism can be found in disciplines of the economics, philosophy and theology. Yet, if it is so easy why are these answers not being found? Because the paradigm of individualism should be shifted to the one of collectivism, rational practices to the ones which are intuitive, science can coexist with ethics and humanity with the material. It took the Middle Age spirituality together with the truths of empiricism to get where we are now. Hence, as a next step in the humanity progress, the interdisciplinary conversation should happen. A good anecdote about such is about an econometrician friend of mine who took a summer off to go to Philippines to work in microfinance, the lending programme for the poor which is organized by Western master minds. She came back very disappointed about how the creators of the idea did not account for the necessary education level of the people who set themselves for the failure not being able to either do business or pay off the 14% interest on their micro loan. Being a starting financial professional, I am sure she will be much more considerate when coming up with a new business model.

The first two levels of transformation, when the experience of the dissonance and/or the consonance is instrumental, has already happened. Otherwise I would not be writing this experimental thesis. However, it is the unison which still needs to be accomplished to create the synergies we are looking for. It is, therefore, up to the scientists and students to travel and also to “travel” to the other disciplines and initiate the positive change. This change, however, is best to happen from the bottom up. As one who already learned to operate the current system and has progressed enough will not experience cognitive dissonance which is needed for the transformation to set off. Again, unless they, maybe, travel.

The Power of Partaking

Besides, to the managers losing the interest of the public, the best way to keep people interested and care about something is by letting them take part in it. Especially it is relevant in the disciplines such as art, where high cultural capital is required to enjoy it. Why tourism is popular now? Because it does not manifest in closed communities from which the other people feel excluded. The tourism is managing to break the divide between the rich and poor, educated and non-educated, young and old. The touristic experiences are free for any interpretation, letting the person to chose, be more autonomous. In fact, referring once again to Adler (1989), the act of tourism is performed art, the art without borders and limitation. Tourism is both high brow and low brow art simultaneously. Museums of nowadays are very path dependent. As people gained the ability to travel, museums are having a crisis of identity which hold on to the collections more than making use of such to educate by participation, to create some mini-disorienting dilemmas (Kirshanblatt-Gimblett, 1998). Participation, therefore, is though to shorten the divide in any field, as through the participation, as the alternative method of learning, the loss of ego happens.

For Tourism (And Other) Professionals

Other practical implications of this research worth to mention are, first of all, for the tourism professionals. As we have learned, the achievement of existential authenticity and, consequently, the overall wellbeing, is best achieved when the experiences are free and serendipitous, as opposed to orchestrated (Turner, 1974; Kirillova et al., 2017). As such, the set programmes which are trying to hit the target of the people’s emotional wants and needs often go amiss. Again, it reminds of the crowding out theory where any attempt to incentivize an individual which is perceived controlling will compromise one’s self-esteem reducing the intrinsic motivation for the controlled activity (Frey, 2001, p. 595). Moreover, on a societal level such crowding out from standardisation manifests itself in Jihad (Barber, 1992) and protectionism. As such, politicians could benefit from abstaining of preaching their ideology, even if it seems to be beneficial.

On the other hand, returning to the notion of ontological security and boredom arising from the existential vacuum, tourism professionals should avoid “shielding” the travellers from unfamiliar and “dangerous” environments (Kirillova et al., 2017). Not only will it result in a higher tourist satisfaction, it will also avoid the people to engage in the actual dangerous endeavours, not finding what they were looking for in a set safe environment. There was an example mentioned by Radel & Hillman (2013) where the tourists almost got eaten by a crocodile trying to avoid the “safety areas”. On a softer note, the tourist retention plans, opposite to improving amenities, should focus on maintaining the cultural vibe. As Becker (2016) shows on the example of France, the policy of cultural maintenance can result in tourism being a premier source for the balance of payments without compromising the societal wellbeing or becoming another “Costa Brava”. French government “promoted a mix of farm subsidies to preserve local small farmers and the French way of life” paying for old-fashioned conservation practices despite it being seemingly inefficient (Becker, 2016, p.57). In fact, the most highly considered tourist destinations as France and Bhutan, can even have quotas for the tourists’ ownership or international arrivals. All without compromising the desirability for the visitation of such place.

The above, moreover, can apply beyond the field of tourism. Particularly employers and educational providers can benefit from the knowledge of the dangers of the artificially created restrictions, controlling incentives and limitations of personal autonomy. Additionally, in handling burn outs or other mental health issues of employees the tourism as a potential method of treatment could be considered as a form of counselling by a communicative learning (Kirillova et al., 2017).  In fact, Pritchard and Morgan (2011) highlighted that even the local authorities can benefit from tourism. National Benevolent Fund for the Aged’ social tourism programmes resulted in improved health and coping abilities to the everyday adversities caused by loneliness and illness. As such, as much as I do not want to give it an economic importance, these type of programmes (not only for elderly but also for troubled youth) could provide potential savings with regards to the health care and safety costs and make participants feel more inclusive.

With regards to the personal transformation, however, it is worth mentioning that tourism is not the only way to achieve the chief goal and discover one’s meaning. Any other dedicated practice which resonates with personal values can prove to have a similar effect. Again, art and science are good examples of the alternative practices which help to transcend and experience the flow. Why tourism stands out, nonetheless, is because it encompasses many of such practices with low entry barriers (Adler, 1989). One might feel more comfortable doing extreme sports, crafts or going for a ballet performance while away than at home due to the liminality which takes care of one’s status. On the other hand, tourism offers not only participation but also engagement with the other. The human factor can be instrumental for the well-being of such social creatures as people.

Scientific Relevance

Besides the societal relevance of this research, the scientific relevance to the outcomes of this paper should not be downplayed. First of all, the aim of this research was to bring back the depth of the argument lost in instrumentalism. To do so, the complete review of the literature with regards to transformation travel was implemented. This complete review can be a useful piece of work in tourism by itself, but in this context it was rather a positive spillover.

What is more important, however, is that the push motivations of the tourist were brought back to life and complimented by other potential factors beyond the 1977th Dann’s work on alienation. The push motivations were considered in a light of an overarching framework of existential theories, which helped to shed a light on a chief internal goal sought after by the act of travel, namely wholeness as the outcome of love.

Not to overstate my contribution, in the literature on rites of passage, existential sociology, and psychology, the “why’s” of travel and the reasons of societal distress have often been mentioned already. However, it seems like there was a taboo on such notions as God or Love. Perhaps in too bold of a statement, this thesis is an attempt to eradicate this taboo and bring the mind and the heart of the academia closer together. By trying to bring the sequestrated emotions back I adhere to humanist, value-based, phenomenological approach.

Last but not least, this thesis is an attempt at application of value-based approach to a new industry beyond the notion of the cultural industries. I argue that tourism, in fact, should be considered as a cultural industry on a macro level. Tourism research, in exchange, could benefit from looking at tourism from a cultural economics perspective for the very first time.

Limitations and Future Research

This research is, however, not without limitations. Firstly, while it explains the triggers and the ways of arriving at existential authenticity and meaningful life, the are no precise instructions for that. Neither there are recommendations on how to avoid dangers associated with the disorienting dilemmas encountered in an attempt to transformation or explanations on how to maintain such transformations when achieved. As we briefly touched upon (p.53) the reintegration to the society after the transformational experience, it can prove to be challenging and create more, rather than solve, existential problems. Moreover, it can result in a continuous search, an addiction, which does not deem any solutions (Kundsen et al., 2016) and produce drifters (Radel & Hillman, 2013; Cohen, 1973). This matter, however, is out of scope of this paper. Nevertheless, the importance of healthy re-integration to the society and maintenance of transformations can not be understated and it can be seen as an avenue for the future research.

Secondly, the in-depth standard economics analysis was out of scope of this paper. Although there are many peer reviewed works available on the topic, there was no time to make a detailed comparative analysis which would be highly beneficial to either strengthen or disprove the findings and provide the reader with the whole picture. There is a need for criticizing this research in detail with side by side explanation of traveling trends from cultural economics and value-based economics perspective. A brilliant future research prospective. Can the practice of tourism indeed be considered as the existential authenticity search or can it be explained by herd behaviour? This remains to be seen. However, my assumption is that it is both.

Besides, being a conceptual research of explorative nature, it would benefit from the empirical tests of the results in detail. As underlying research is mainly based on stories from different accounts, the empirical assessment is needed to prove of reject the outlined generalizations. Such tests as the strength of transformational potential by tourism type and by non-tourism related methods could be done. The tests on motivation, inspiration, increase in empathy and compassion, and changes in lifestyle and activism should be conducted to assess the viability of transformations by travel. Additionally, the influence of destination marketing on the transformational potential should be analysed and the impacts of social tourism initiatives can be tested. By the same token, the transformational learning by tourism can be assessed from the perspective of the cognitive and intellectual behaviour (Reisinger, 2013). And, last but not least, the assumption of how cultural employment relates to motivations to travel can be examined.

On the qualitative side and to revive the research on Push Motivations, the laddering technique of the interviewing can be considered (Van Rekom, et al, 2006), where, additionally, non-Western tourist should be taken into account. Finally, this paper did not provide the criticism on the downsides of the tourism such as safety, price of the Westerners transformations which is paid by the host communities and if these should be perused if it is too high. There are many academic papers available on the dangers of the tourism. Hence, it should be possible to make a risk/return assessment for the investment in transformation.

Methodological Reflections

During this journey I lost a fair share of my scepticism and realized the importance of research in social science. Our society is build on the scientific model of economics. It is due to such intellectuals as Adam Smith, Karl Marx, John Maynard Keynes and Friedrich Hayek we are now able to live in a better condition than ever before. However, the system is not perfect and can be further improved. The good comparison can be made with car making. In any sense a car is a great invention, however as research progressed and the human factor got accounted for (i.e. comfort, safety, the feel) we now able to have a more pleasant and safe driving experience, we can drive faster and reach further.

For some reason the domain of economics prefers to ride the old car, whereas if we would try and take the human factor into account we can go further, faster and with the more comfort. If we account for our products to be comfortable and emphasize consumer satisfaction, I bet the economic model as a product can benefit from such a shift of paradigm towards more human. As well, the scientific endeavour can benefit from the humanization. Unless one writes the research for their own ego, there is a purpose for the scientific journey. In other words, what is the use of the knowledge if it can not be shared beyond the academia?

I did not expect the result of this thesis-journey to arrive to love as the ultimate goal. Although I have heard such contentions before, it did not seem possible. It felt too one-dimensional. However, this research attempt has proven otherwise, showing that love enables to get rid of one-sidedness and break the duality by the loss of ego. Which is exactly what we need to shift perspective to take the imperfect human factor into account. Imperfection, however, is not a bad thing in itself. For the flaws are beautiful. They are there to provide with the room for more discoveries, feed our curiosity and keep us puzzled. The life would not be so interesting if it would not be a quest. And, when we go to other terrains, we get familiar with them and they are no longer scary but rather become a part of us and help us to draw the whole picture.

And this is, of course, a metaphor. In fact, initially, I did not expect to take this thesis-stripe-journey further than tourism. I wanted to learned about tourism as a cultural activity and the transformational effect it has on people. However, I came to realize that tourism is very multi-dimensional and to get an understanding of it, it should be considered from different angles – economic, social, psychological, cultural and what more. One or another missing link can compromise the effort of the exploration.

As such, I learned is that there is a sea of research papers on just about any topic. There is an abundance of sources many of which are conflicting. Today, anyone can be a devil’s advocate and prove just about anything right or wrong. It is all a matter of the formulation. We have the ultimate freedom of choice and opinion, however with freedom comes responsibility for which we need morals and ethical standards. And, as morals are currently hidden or lost, these need to be rediscovered. The discovery, as such, is best achieved, in literal and figurative sense, through travel.


We live in a world characterized by a divide. Political right and political left, communism and capitalism, business and charity, art and science, economics and culture, a beauty and a beast. The world today is dominated by dichotomy of everything. Dichotomy which leads to tensions and conflicts. What helps the resolution of conflicts is understanding of the other point of view. However, it is not always easy to switch on an impartial spectator. Humans are too emotional and attached for that.

On the other hand, we also do not like conflicts. When people face conflict, they either fight or run away. And that is how the boom in tourism can be justified as one is “pushed” to hit the road to travel. In traveling, as we have seen, one seeks to find the solution for the societal anomie, regain the social interaction norms. In other words, by going on a physical journey one searches for the path which is internal and which have been lost. The traveling today resembles Middle Age pilgrimage or the Enlightenment quest for truth and knowledge. But what exactly is this quest today and how it helps the resolution of conflict?

The instrumentalism has deprived the society of the emotions and human touch, dismissing them for being imperfect. However, as the emotions and the imperfection are an inevitable part of life, the limitations of the free will and existential anxiety start to be noticed. Besides the financial bubbles and market collapses the rates of mental illness are on the rise as the symptoms of such. As Csikszentmihalyi (2004) has noticed, although the decrease in material wellbeing can deprive one from positive emotions, the increase in one’s financial wealth does not lead to the increase in happiness. The value-based economic approach is needed, because it is not economic but an existential crisis we currently face.

On a positive side, there are indicators of change. These might not be too easy to notice and make sense of since they rather adhere to the practical knowledge or phronesis. However, the amalgamation of such practices as artistic political activism, the rise of spiritual practices in the secular world, literary and cinematic narrative with the return of allegory of search for a meaning and, of course travel, can not remain unnoticed. Particularly the travel trends emphasizing the need for simplicity, authenticity, quality, genuine human interaction and being in harmony with nature show us what we are longing for. And, as we figured, what we look for in other is a representation of what we are lacking in our selves After all, tourism is an economic activity. Yet, it only makes sense for the realization of the ‘internal needs’, realizing not only personal, but also social, societal and transcendental values (Klamer, 2015). Of course, we all have different authentic selves which is a combination of the most important values we are trying to realize. Nevertheless, looking at the big picture we see that tourism today has a set of values which matching for many people. Values that the Western society lacks.

Tourism today is a modern day pilgrimage. Moreover, it is a strong bottom-up facilitator of societal transformation, a change for better. To bring the values back to the society a bigger scale transformation is required. This scale, therefore, is just a matter of the network effect. To create a new myth, the dreams of many have to be matching (Campbell & Moyers, 1988). On a world scale, traveling has the ability to achieve such tipping point. Today travel is affordable and is one of the basic needs. It is a cultural activity accessible to masses, regardless of which capital in the Bourdieu sense, we are looking at.

In comparison with other transformational practices which are available (i.e. yoga, practicing art, gardening) tourism, as a rite of passage, encompasses all the factors required for positive change, hence, making it easier (Mezirow, 1991). While the encounters with ‘other’ create a disorienting dilemma, the special and social separation, the entrance to liminal space, provides the fertile soil for the shift of perspective by letting the tourist to critically reflect. Even the most superficial encounters during travels are able to motivate and inspire, introducing the individual to a positive and/or negative role models. By going to foreign lands, one enters another cultural or social sphere, becoming a part of a new conversation, and hence, has the experience of growing. Being a part of communitas, moreover, facilitates the highest level of transformation which results in love or the loss of ego, adhering to what can be rephrase as “The World is My Oikos”. Subconsciously, we are all looking for the egoless state of love, the “oceanic feeling” of connectedness and trust embedded in our inner child.

Love, as such, solves many problems. Without love there is duality of You and I.

Love, however, has ability to sacrifice for a greater good of the union, it takes into account the interdependence, which, if we look at it from this perspective, is pretty clever natural survival mechanism. By increasingly searching for a meaning, which as we figured is love, we are striving for life which is endangered by the evil of duality. In simpler words, by love, we seek to protect ourselves from the ego which compromises nature, culture or another human being and which we are dependent on for the survival. But first, we need to find or fall into that love.

            I realize that many statement I outline may sound idealistic. I therefore encourage you to take them with a pinch of salt. Travel, per se, does not have an ability to solve all our problems. Moreover, not everybody in life will encounter love. As for love one needs to let go, and to let go it required the transcendence of fear. Additionally, the world today is in general a good house to live in. It can always be improved for the better but it is not a complete jungle with soulless people and the religion of instrumentalism. What this thesis is more about, is about the understanding of ourselves, our existential problems, our selfies’ ergo sum. It lets us realize that sometimes humility is the way to go. Even if we see a mindless traveller ticking the destination boxes on their bucket list, there is usually something behind it, an inner child which we should not judge but better try to understand. And that applies to other parts of life such as, for example, the academia and the scientific process of theoretical “fights” in cross-disciplinary discourse. Coming back to the metaphor of journey, I encourage everyone to travel. Especially, to places which are less understood. As Blaug discovered the Australia of culture (Handke & Dekker, 2016) there is the whole map of curiosities awaits.


  • The journey is the destination.-

It is time to say Goodbye on this imaginary journey. I am proud to say that during this journey we have not only learned that the travel aids discovery, but it also leads to the loss of ego, striving for a greater good and, hence a more meaningful life. During this exact moment, writing this Epilogue, I can relate to this more than ever. Science aside, during this academic travel, I have learned so much, discovered things which I haven’t expected, reached yet another appreciation level for the people who do scientific research, and saw the true face of my friendships (in a very positive way). Having time to contemplate on it for quite a while I have managed to put a finger on the question I asked in the about Ernesto at the time of departure. “How could the man who went through so much, living in such conditions be so positive and able to maintain his moral compass?” The answer to this appears to be rather simple – become no stranger, transcend the singularity, feel the love!

On a personal level, since both writing and traveling are my passions, writing this thesis, although stressful at times, added a lot of meaning to my life. In all honestly, I am afraid of this submission and letting it go. And yet, I am both as frightened as I am excited to enter the liminal space but again. Who knows what other curiosities await? I am, however, definite, that I am on a right path and that is all what matters. Besides, as saying goes, in life you always meet each other twice. That saying represent my hopes towards this work and towards all who has inspired me to write that journey-thesis.

As I was finishing the last adjustments, I bought a plane ticket to Switzerland to celebrate this achievement with a mountain hike. Because the separation and the beauty of nature always inspires to take the next steps in a journey called Life. So, why don’t You get yourself a ticket too?


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[1] For entry quotes in this thesis, please refer to the separate Quotes References

[2] = 1 EUR

[3] A brain centre responsible for emotions, decision making and creating memories (Barrett, 2017)

[4] Traditional Tunisian drum