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Original scientific paper

Self, wonder and God! The spiritual dimensions of travel experiences

Donna E. Little ; Department of Sport and Leisure Studies at the University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand
Christopher Schmidt ; Department of Sport and Leisure Studies at the University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand

Full text: english pdf 125 Kb


page 107-116

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There is a long tradition within travel and tourism research to focus on the commoditized aspects of functional exchange, consumer satisfaction, market share, and the tourist product. This has meant that economic, social, cultural and environmental elements have predominated, with tourism being seen as a mass phenomenon, and less focus being placed on the personal or experiential components that are part of the promise of travel itself. While diverse approaches and foci to the study of travel are necessary to understand the breadth of possibilities within the industry, the nature of the experience itself remains core to interpreting the scope and potential of travel and tourism and how it may impact on individuals beyond the immediate response to a location, an attraction, a product or a service. This paper focuses on revealing the subjective spiritual experiences that emerged for 10 leisure travelers who were on various independent journeys. Using a phenomenological approach that examined the meaning and nature of experience as it is lived, the findings revealed that leisure travel was a complex
experience that could have spiritual meaning and impact on the participants. Specifically, analysis revealed the respondents: gained an enhanced awareness of self, God or 'other'; felt a greater sense of
connection with something beyond the self; and experienced their spiritual leisure travel intensely, recognizing a range of sensations including wonder, awe, fear and release.


spirituality; leisure travel; phenomenology; awareness; connection; sensation

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