S07. Life-course perspective in travel behaviour

Full title

A life course based perspective of travel behaviour: theoretical, methodological and empirical challenges



Travel behaviour research aims to understand travel choices of people such as which transport mode is used for commuting and how is this determined by economic, socio-demographic, psychosocial and spatial factors, who is using the car and how these factors are influenced by household dynamics, etc. (De Witte et al. 2013). Such travel choices have been studied for more than four decades now. During that time various approaches have been used ranging from the simplest trip-based approach to a tour-based approach considering a chain of trips instead and the most advanced activity-based approach assuming travel being derived from activities. The life-oriented approach is recently being suggested as another new approach in travel behaviour research (Zhang and Van Acker, 2017). Travel behaviour not only depends on the activities someone wants to participate, but these activity patterns are likely to be associated with life choices people make. For example, travel and activity patterns differ between those living in urban or rural areas, among households with or without children, etc. This means that interconnections exists between choices made in different life domains, something that is also recognized by mobility biographies (Müggenburg et al., 2015). A life-oriented or mobility biographies approach thus urges researchers to take a life course based perspective on travel behaviour: what happens in people’s lives and how does this affect quality-of-life in general and travel behaviour in particular. This special session focuses on the theoretical, methodological and empirical challenges of such a life course based perspective of travel behaviour.

Possible topics for this special session are:

Publishing intent

Based on the papers presented in this special session, session organizers will consider the possibility to organize a special issue in a journal like Journal of Transport Geography.


De Witte, A., Hollevoet, J., Dobruszkes, F., Hubert, M., Macharis, C. (2013) Linking modal choice to motility: A comprehensive review. Transportation Research Part A, 49, 329–341.

Müggenburg, H., Busch-Geertsema, A., Lanzendorf, M. (2015) Mobility biographies: A review of achievements and challenges of the mobility biographies approach and a framework for further research. Journal of Transport Geography, 46, 151-163.

Zhang, J., Van Acker, V. (2017) Life-oriented travel behaviour research: An overview. Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, 104, 167-178.