The experience of time in long-term travel

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Tourism Geographies, 2016, 18 (4), pp. 341 - 358
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© 2016 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. Travellers’ understanding and experience of the flow, pace of time and distinctions between past, present and future are culturally specific with many from advanced urbanised societies immersed in a life-style characterised as time-pressured. Leisure travel can provide opportunities for those from such ‘harried’ societies to escape these pressures of home. This paper explores the experience of ‘time’ of long-term, self-drive travellers in Australia. The findings demonstrate the change in perception of time flow and pace as the travellers took control of time to slow down. Their sense of time was also informed by the spatial and temporal narrative of the Australian landscape through which they were travelling. The further they moved inland and away from Western cities, the closer they came to experience the exotic, temporal otherness that has been constructed in relation to the Outback and Australian indigenous culture. The study confirmed that just as spaces, places and landscape are animated and co-produced through the practice of mobility so too is sense of time. There were physical and psychological benefits for the travellers in controlling their own sense of time by travelling slowly and living in the moment. The Australian landscape, especially in remote areas, provides a suitable backdrop, with its isolation, quietness, ancientness, ‘timelessness’ and indigenous living culture, to contemplate one's life and place in the universe. While these findings can assist destination managers in their promotion of regional Australia and self-drive, long-term travel, caution is required to avoid privileging an exotic temporal narrative at the expense of contemporary, political, indigenous and environmental concerns.
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