Humans began travelling to new places for various reasons as early as 1001 when Leif Eriksson visited Vinland (Swedish for “land of pastures”). Later, pilgrims took on dangerous journeys to the ancient city of Santiago de Compostela. During the Middle Ages, young aristocrats and upper-class men travelled to important cities to pursue education and better their lives.

After the failed crusades, merchants began to travel to make their goods more affordable. The discovery of America by Marco Polo in 1413 fueled interest in travel. In the Middle Ages, the Renaissance brought new life to travel as trade routes were reopened. Throughout this time, people continued to leave their towns to discover the world. Today, there are more than 500 million travellers worldwide.


After the fall of the crusades, travel was often done for leisure purposes.  In ancient China, the concept of “business” travel was a little more nuanced, with the wealthy elite making pilgrimages to the Five Sacred Mountains. In the Middle Ages, the concept of religious travel gained traction, with pilgrimages being seen as a way to purify spiritual debts.

The first travellers were the middle class. They sought to visit landmarks and explore the countryside. They also sought education, art and culture, and were interested in industry, technology, and information. It was the middle-class traveller who paved the way for the modern travel industry. Many of them travelled for work and to explore the world.

map and passport

The first travellers were educated. They wished to learn more about the culture and history of other cultures. They were interested in learning about different languages. Eventually, the first travellers were tourists. The first travellers were those from the upper-middle class. These journeys were educational. By the end of the Middle Ages, many merchants and pilgrims began travelling to other parts of the world. They had the freedom to explore new places.

Historically, travel was the privilege of the wealthy.  Moreover, they travelled to learn about other cultures as they sought knowledge of other cultures. In the 19th century, the first travel agencies were established, and since then the travel industry began to develop rapidly, mainly because of these changes.