Fact Checked

What Is Recreational Travel?

M.C. Huguelet
M.C. Huguelet

In its broadest sense, recreational travel is any type of travel undertaken for pleasure rather than for business, a family event, or any other kind of obligation. Theoretically, then, recreational travel can involve any type of transport, destination, and accommodation. Some think of this kind of travel specifically as a vacation which is carried out in a camper or recreational vehicle (RV). Others understand the term to mean travel that is spent enjoying preferred leisure activities or traveling abroad to a different country like Lucerne, Switzerland.

Strictly speaking, the term recreational travel simply means travel that is carried out specifically and solely for leisure purposes. Thus, a business trip would not be considered recreational travel, even if the traveler happens to find the trip pleasurable. Similarly, a journey to one’s family home for a holiday, no matter how enjoyable, is not undertaken solely for the traveler’s leisure and thus technically does not fit within the recreational category.

Many travelers visit the Forbidden City in Beijing, China, each year.
Many travelers visit the Forbidden City in Beijing, China, each year.

With such broad parameters, a recreational trip can take an unlimited number of forms. It may be spent within one’s own country or abroad. Recreational travelers can journey by car, airplane, train, boat, bicycle, or even on foot. They can stay in a hotel, at a friend’s home, in a tent, and so on.

For some, the expression recreational travel has a more specific meaning that is linked to RVs. In the minds of these individuals, this type of travel is carried out within an RV. The traveler may plan his route carefully or may simply improvise. He might attempt to cover a significant distance or may opt to travel to a single destination and then stay there for the length of his trip. In most cases, the traveler’s RV will serve as his accommodation for the duration of his journey, providing a place to sleep and a washroom as well as a space to prepare meals and eat.

Camping may be part of recreational travel.
Camping may be part of recreational travel.

To others, the term recreational travel refers to travel that is undertaken for the specific purpose of enjoying one or more preferred recreational activities. While the exact definition of a leisure activity can vary widely from person to person, for most people it is something that they find both enjoyable and relaxing. As such, recreational travelers could potentially spend their trip participating in activities as diverse as fishing, knitting, skydiving, or attending a rock fantasy camp.

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Discussion Comments


@croydon - I just wish that people would treat the places they visit for recreational travel with enough respect. There's a reason that people in tourist towns really hate the tourist season. There are a lot of people who think of everywhere they visit as being the same as Disneyland and basically set up just to cater to their needs and preferences.

When people are going to visit family, they are obviously going to see the place in a different way because they are interacting with locals. But when they are just going to take in the sights, they tend to treat the whole experience as a short term one, which doesn't include treating the area with the care they'd reserve for their own homes.

I've seen ancient monuments with graffiti carved into them and people littering all over forests in the name of their recreation, not to mention the way they treat local people. I've got no problems with people broadening their minds but if they have to trash another area in order to do it, I'd rather they just stay at home.


@pleonasm - It's worth investing in recreational travel, in my opinion, because nothing broadens the mind like going to a place simply for the joy of seeing something new.

Human beings are naturally curious and respond well to seeing new things. If you only ever go to the same places and don't take the time to explore new ones I think you're missing out on a fundamental human experience.


I've traveled a lot in the last decade but I realized recently that I haven't really done any true recreational travel. I never go to a place simply to see it and enjoy the experience. There is always someone I'm visiting, or something I'm doing for business purposes.

Travel is just so expensive these days, and when I've got so many friends and family members scattered around the world it seems frivolous to go on a trip simply for leisure.

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    • Many travelers visit the Forbidden City in Beijing, China, each year.
      By: alexxich
      Many travelers visit the Forbidden City in Beijing, China, each year.
    • Camping may be part of recreational travel.
      By: micromonkey
      Camping may be part of recreational travel.
    • Travel with accommodations on board is usually done with a camper or recreational vehicle.
      By: Robert Ford
      Travel with accommodations on board is usually done with a camper or recreational vehicle.