“Someday, I’ll take you to Italy, to Rome, Venice, and Sicily; but right now, your too young to appreciate it”, my father would reassure the little starry eyed 10 year old girl looking up at him. As an empowered young child, I didn’t like the thought of being told I wasn’t able to do something. “I’m not too young!” I would say, “I’ve been to places, I’ve done things, and I appreciate everything”. I wanted a sense of what else was in the world, and I didn’t understand what my father meant. I look back on these little things, and am able to recollect them from a different perspective. Was my father right in saying that I was just too young to travel?
As an educated and mature 20 year old, I have made plans to spend 6 months in Italy starting in January of 2017. My father has fully supported me in this decision and now, instead of saying I am too young to appreciate it, he says I will come back a changed person. Maybe I was eager to travel as a 10 year old, but did I have the mindset to travel the world? At that age, would I really experience the same leisure travel satisfaction that my father would traveling to Italy, and learning about our heritage? That’s when I decided to take a look at the idea a little closer.
“Toward a Quality-of-Life Theory of Leisure Travel Satisfaction”, is an article written by Joseph Sirgy, published June 15th, 2009 in the Journal of Travel Research series. I chose this article because it proposes a quality-of-life theory of leisure travel satisfaction based on goal theory, and gave me an answer as to why, as a 10 year old, I just wouldn’t have as much appreciation traveling as today. The author goes into detail about his theory as well as other factors that affect his theory such as: intrinsic and extrinsic goals, or in other words goals that affect well-being and goals that affect luxury needs. Relating this to class, we’ve been over the different types of tourists starting from organized mass tourism, to individual mass tourists, to explorers, to drifters. Tourists with more intrinsic goals are more likely to be the drifters or explorers that do little planning and more connection with the locals of their travels. Whereas an individual with extrinsic goals or goals relating to money, status, or fame are more likely to invest in package trips to standard destinations. The article also goes into detail about the use of “flow” with goals and what that means is an individual’s skills match the challenges they prevent to themselves which becomes really important in setting travel leisure goals as a tourist. Toward more of the end of the article, the authors defines, “The Recognition Principle of Goal Attainment” which ties together the meaning of studying goals psychologically and how they relate to tourists. This is because life satisfaction can be increased through recognition of accomplishment of leisure travel goals.
This overall theory as I mentioned, can be broken down into 4 different findings that state, as a tourist seeking travel satisfaction you must: define your travel goals making sure they have positive outcomes, make sure those goals are attainable, engage in activities that will implement these goals, engage in actions that would allow yourself as a tourist, to experience goal attainment. The point of conducting these experiments and researching this topic was to help tourism researchers, “better explain tourist satisfaction in relation to life satisfaction (246)”. This idea also greatly relates to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs which is something we went over in our Travel and Tourism class. This hierarchy defines the levels of human motivation as starting with basic physiological needs, and then moving up the ladder to achieve personal safety, affection and belonging, self-esteem, and finally self-actualization. The final stage of self-actualization involves personal fulfillment, and a lot of times this may include travel and tourism. For example, people wanting to live out their dreams of seeing specific places, experiencing vacations, or experiencing meditation or religious retreats. Relating to these findings, I can conclude that as a 10 year old, I may not have reached the, “self-actualization” phase of my human needs, as well as my travel satisfaction. Therefore, I still had time to grow and improve my belonging needs, as well as self-esteem needs, before I dove into my personal fulfillment of traveling needs.
For most of these findings, the author’s research methods had to do with just simple observation, as well as studying past psychological discoveries. Although there was no specific research methods done in the case, it is stated that, “most (tourism) researchers argue that interactive theories are most effective (247)”. This is because interactive theories include aspects of the situation as well as, the individual tourist, to better explain the tourist satisfaction rate. For example, to prove the statement of human well-being correlating to goal attainment and the extent to which those goals are congruent to the person’s motives, the author presents the reader with a situational example. Sirgy states his stance on goal congruency when sharing, “A typical example is one that most parents are familiar with: parents who go on family vacations with their adolescent children—the adolescent children whose vacationing motives are not congruent with the parents’ vacationing goals… Perhaps the parents feel that there is little romance in their marital life (so they choose to go on vacation to solve that)… But they end up going on a family vacation with their children who are so demanding of their attention (253)”, so in the end neither party is fully satisfied. This was an example proving goal motive congruence, and the first part of Sirgy’s theory that states: the party members must select leisure travel goals that have high levels of positive valence, which in this example, was not done correctly and therefore didn’t result in complete tourist satisfaction.
I really like the way the author was able to use real life examples such as the one stated above, that many people can relate to. Although I understand why some may say his evidence was very broad and over- generalized, containing not enough specific evidence and research. I would also say, when he did state these types of example situations, it seemed to take his complex ideas and narrow them down to make them more understandable. Whereas, in the beginning of his essay before his examples, he seems to just be stating many broad ideas of his, with not much back up evidence. I would suggest this essay could be improved by possibly including some survey’s from tourists around the world that have different cultural views of tourism. I would also suggest including some form of numerical evidence such as percentage of people that travel for work or travel for goal accomplishment, rather than just stating the norms.
If there was one thing I would be able to ask the author of this article, it would be this: Since you’ve done so much research on human behavior relating to tourism and even stated, “the greater the leisure satisfaction, as well as satisfaction in other life domains (e.g., family life, social life, spiritual life, family life, and cultural life), the greater the satisfaction with life overall (248)” have you genuinely experienced self-actualization and greater life satisfaction form traveling yourself? I would be surprised to find out that the author hadn’t used his research to his advantage, and hadn’t set intrinsic and extrinsic goals related to traveling. However, I do realize there is a lot more to this theory, and it is not something many people have the opportunity to fulfill for financial or occupational reasons. Personally, I understand the theory and definitely feel it is a fact that setting attainable goals for yourself when traveling and being able to achieve those goals, leads to greater life satisfaction. I know, that when preparing for my time in Italy, I would like to keep into consideration what my goals are from this time away, if they are likely to be achieved and how I am going to achieve them. I feel that this trip really will be a self-actualization time for me and I am excited to see how it unfolds.
Joseph Sirgy1, Joseph. “Toward a Quality-of-Life Theory of Leisure Travel Satisfaction.” Sage Journals. SAGE Publications, 15 June 2009. Web.
COPYRIGHT: CARLY RISTUCCIA
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