No particular place to go: An empirical analysis of travel for the sake of travel

Xinyu Cao, Patricia L. Mokhtarian, Susan L. Handy

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    33 Scopus citations


    Many people find some intrinsic value in travel itself. This leads to excess travel, which can have important (mode-specific) secondary effects. Society would benefit if individuals satisfied more of their desire for travel by choosing to walk or bike rather than drive. However, our understanding of the determinants of travel for its own sake and the role of the residential environment in shaping it is limited. Using data collected from 1,682 respondents in Northern California, this study explores environmental correlates of traveling out of the house with no particular destination in mind, controlling for attitudinal and sociodemographic factors. We found that the generation of such "undirected travel" is influenced by attitudes but residential environment characteristics also matter. Specifically, proximity to business, not living on a cul-de-sac, and aesthetic qualities encourage undirected walking/biking. We speculate that providing neighborhood-based physical activity options may lead to the substitution of walking/biking for driving.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)233-257
    Number of pages25
    JournalEnvironment and Behavior
    Issue number2
    StatePublished - 2009


    • Autotelic behavior
    • Built environment
    • Positive utility
    • Public health
    • Travel behavior


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