A Comparison of Travel Decisions Between U.S. and International Students

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Travel and tourism is a major industry in the United States and internationally. Because it impacts regional development, local and national economies, and community employment rates, there is a need to understand the social and psychological forces and factors that motivate and satisfy individual travelers. The purpose of this study was to compare travel decisions between United States and international students at a Midwestern university based on Dann’s (1977) push and pull motivation factors. This study utilized a modified travel motivation survey from previous research to indicate the importance of travel motivations based on the 39 push and 27 pull motivation factors. Demographic information including gender, residency, and level of education were also analyzed to determine if such factors contributed to differences in travel motivation. The results indicated that the most important travel motivators were to have fun, see and experience a new destination, and to reduce stress. There were gender differences on 24 push and pull items with females rating all but viewing sporting events higher than males. When students in the United States were compared to international students, there were significant differences on 27 push and pull items. Respondents from the United States had higher means on a majority of the push factors with the exception of rediscovering myself. The findings of this study have implications for leisure and tourism service practitioners in that there are slight differences in travel motivation of college students in terms of gender and whether the student is domestic or international. Understanding these similarities and differences can impact tourism marketing to college students.


This article was originally published as Dejtisak, M., Hurd, A. R., Schlatter, B. E., Elkins, D. J. (2009). A comparison of travel decisions between U.S. and international students. LARNet: Journal of Applied Leisure and Recreation Research. larnet.org/20109-02.html