Serendipity and independent travel

Wei-Jue Huang, William C. Norman, Jeffrey C. Hallo, Nancy G. McGehee, John McGee, Carl L. Goetcheus

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


The independent travel market is not homogeneous. As smartphones and mobile navigation devices became ubiquitous, independent travellers are now allowed to explore the destination without making detailed plans. The purpose of this study is to explore tourists' preferences for the level of structure vs serendipity in their travel experience, and investigate how different styles of independent travel relate to other tourist behaviour. Findings showed that independent travellers, overall, had a higher preference for serendipity than following a structured itinerary. Respondents who were more ‘serendipitous’ participated in more activities, particularly sightseeing and outdoor sports, while those who preferred ‘structured’ travel took part in fewer activities, in spite of their planning. As predicted, the ‘structured’ respondents spent more time on travel planning and were more likely to look for specific information, such as price and location. The ‘serendipitous’ respondents, however, did not wander without knowledge. Searching for more general information about the area, they in fact used more information sources than those who preferred ‘structured’ travel.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)169-183
Number of pages15
JournalTourism Recreation Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014


  • Independent travel
  • Information search
  • Serendipity
  • Travel planning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management
  • Cultural Studies
  • Geography, Planning and Development


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