Open access peer-reviewed chapter

The International Decision-Making and Travel Behavior of Graduates Participating in Working Holiday

Written By

Chin-cheng Ni, Chien-yu Tsao and Ying-hsiang Wang

Submitted: March 28th, 2017 Reviewed: July 6th, 2017 Published: December 20th, 2017

DOI: 10.5772/intechopen.70331

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After graduation, most graduates find themselves at a significant stage in their life as they have to decide between “further study” and “working.” When faced with this confusion and uncertainty, a “working holiday” combining travel and work has coincidentally becomes a third option. This study employed a qualitative approach through literature review, in-depth interviews, and semi-structured interviews. The research revealed that graduates are influenced by “internal personal thinking” and “external driving forces” when they embark on a working holiday. The former includes negative obstructions and positive stimulus. The latter factor’s stimulus includes attraction of natural landscapes, history and culture, learning foreign languages, safety concerns, difficulties in visa application, and the opportunity to obtain a salaried job. The process of embarking on a working holiday was complex and unpredictable. The traveling behavior of working holiday destinations included short-distance leisure behavior and long-distance traveling behavior. In terms of the influences of short-distance leisure behavior, graduates preferred being employed by service industries that had less working hours, flexible work arrangements and included the purchase of preferential price tickets. Graduates’ long-distance traveling behavior was affected by the work they performed. The travel time was different between various industries.


  • graduates
  • working holiday
  • decision-making
  • travel
  • spatial behavior

1. Introduction

Within the context of globalization over the past few years, working holidays have clearly become a new trend in alternative tourism [1]. Unlike traditional tourism, working holidays are a newly emerging form of independent travel that combines “work” and “holiday.” Working holiday makers (WHMs) are able to obtain working holiday visas for travel to other countries in order to undertake employment while engaging in in-depth tourism. This form of tourism not only enables individuals to experience the customs and culture of foreign countries in order to widen their horizons but also achieve personal growth and the satisfaction of leisure. It also provides a way to earn money through legally engaging in work in order to raise funds for the cost of tourism activities.

University graduates often experience a transitional stage in their career development, and many of them are faced with the crucial decision of undertaking graduate studies or employment. Working holidays seem to have become a third option. However, when making the decision to participate in working holidays abroad, graduates will necessarily encounter family and social incentives and restrictions. What are these incentives and restrictions? Past research on working holidays has mostly focused on the personal backgrounds, psychological traits, and cultural adaptation of these travelers. However, limited research has been conducted on individual subjective factors and objective factors of the external environment (e.g., safety, visas, salary, language, etc.) that are involved in deciding on the destination country. How are these factors manifested in university graduates?

Furthermore, during the process of working holidays, there is a competitive and complementary relationship between work and holidays in the dimensions of time and life. The proportion of time allocated to work and holidays by these travelers can take on a variety of forms. Some may focus on experiencing the sightseeing activities, whereas others may emphasize income. Are there differences in the spatial travel behavior of workers in different industries?

Based on the above, the present study aimed to achieve the following objectives: (1) to explore the internal motivation and external influences involved in the decision to undertake working holidays when university graduates are planning their career development, (2) to analyze the decision-making of graduates when choosing to participate in working holidays, and (3) to understand the spatial travel behaviors of graduates during their working holiday.


2. Literature review

2.1. The development context of a working holiday

Tourism and work are often regarded as completely different concepts, as if working and being on holiday were mutually contradictory. Vacations represent the need to seek relaxation and recreational activities after finishing work; for this reason, they should not involve any form of labor [13]. In 1975, New Zealand and Australia set out to solve their agricultural labor shortage and enhance the development of their tourism industries. They began issuing working holiday visas to young people between the ages of 18 and 30 years. This policy enabled young people to travel to Australia and New Zealand to undertake short-term employment, while also experiencing the local culture and expanding their personal horizons [4]. As WHMs often have a strong motivation to travel, the concept of a working holiday breaks through the traditional definition of tourism, combining the concepts of holiday and work to create a new type of independent travel. By performing manual labor, WHMs can earn enough money to pay for their own travel and sightseeing activities [5, 6]. This scheme gives young people with no financial resources the opportunity to explore and travel around the world. Working holidays have gradually become a popular trend in alternative tourism. WHMs undertake manual work on holiday to achieve benefits, such as learning opportunities, stress relief, and cultural exchanges [7]. In another form of holiday, WHMs work during their spare time to achieve recreational aims, including relaxation, learning, interpersonal exchanges, and personal growth.

Based on the ratio between the amount of work and relaxation, working holidays can be roughly divided into two categories. In the first category, people experience work combined with a holiday; they continue to work for a living and to experience the stress of work responsibilities. This type of working holiday is associated with occupations that combine work with travel. Participants include business travelers, flight attendants, tour group leaders, and tour guides. The second category of working holiday involves transforming work into a holiday activity. In recent years, this approach has developed rapidly and received widespread attention. It has also become the type of working holiday that most people are aware of. Participants believe that the work they undertake during their holidays is not just work; it is also an important travel experience. In defining the work-to-holiday spectrum, it is important to consider factors such as remuneration, volunteer status, responsibility, and motivation. Working tourists can be grouped into the following five categories: traveling professional workers, migrant tourism workers, noninstitutionalized working tourists, working-holiday tourists, and paid workers [2, 3, 8]. The type of working holiday discussed in this study belongs to the noninstitutionalized working tourists category.

2.2. Environmental perception, traveling behavior, and decision-making

The main purpose of behavioral geography is to explore the behavioral patterns that humans exhibit when faced with environmental stimuli; research in this field looks at environmental perception and spatial behaviors. Environmental perception focuses on information signals that the human sense organs receive from the external environment. These are filtered by the brain, which uses the individual’s value system (needs, attitudes, preferences, and memory) to identify interesting information. Finally, these pieces of information are organized into images and stored in the brain, where they serve as a reference for human environmental perception and decision-making [9, 10]. Spatial behaviors are external behaviors produced by individuals through a series of processes involving their value systems, images, and ability to make decisions. When examining the travel behaviors of individuals, we must first understand their image of the tourist destination in question. By beginning with a study of perception, researchers can use the travel behaviors of individuals to infer how their travel decision-making processes and influencing factors have shaped their spatial behaviors. To understand the travel decision-making processes and behaviors of WHMs, we can adopt the environmental perception perspective used in geography and apply the research method of post hoc recall to indirectly provide a complete picture of the WHMs’ pre-travel planning and destination travel experiences.

Time geography can serve as a basic framework for travel behaviors, focusing on identifiable spatial and temporal features in human activity movement paths. Time geography explores the spatial range of movements within a given time period, made by individuals who exist within a specific period and location [11, 12]. Human activities are influenced by multiple structural factors; people’s range of movement is restricted within the terrestrial space. The main constraints include: (1) capability constraints, which are limitations imposed on individuals’ activities by their own physiological abilities and tools. For example, an individual’s chosen form of transportation could influence his or her path of movement and range of accessibility; (2) coupling constraints, which are bundles formed by individuals when they are producing, consuming, or engaged in other social activities. For example, some limitations on spatial movements in daily life could be caused by the interactions required in a particular type of job; and (3) authority constraints, which involve the specific, temporal, or spatial exclusion of people or objects due to the law or social norms. For example, limitations are imposed on the WHMs’ working holidays by their tourist visa location, age, and financial means [13].

Decision-making involves the actions that individuals perform after considering all the information they can perceive, while relying on their value systems. An individual’s decision-making process is influenced by a number of factors, which can be divided into personal internal factors and environmental external factors [14]. The personal internal factors that influence an individual’s travel decision-making are often related to his or her recreational needs. Maslow [15] proposed that humans have a hierarchy of needs, which can generally be classified as physiological needs, psychological needs, and cognitive needs. Individuals must first satisfy their lower order needs before they can fulfill their higher order needs. The different levels of needs are interdependent and carry different weights [15]. Thus, needs that influence a decision to produce travel behavior, on a psychological level, are related to the individual’s travel motivation, personality, attitudes, perceptions, interests, and past travel experiences [1618]. An individual’s disposable income is also an important economic consideration affecting travel activities. For this reason, the travel budget often forms an economic threshold for travel activities [19]. However, the integration of work into the working holiday model provides travelers with an opportunity to earn an income, which can also motivate them to experience travel activities. In addition, the travel behaviors of individuals at certain stages of their lives may be strongly influenced by others. For example, individuals’ travel behavior may be influenced by their family and peers [20, 21]. Most WHMs are young people, who may have little social experience; for this reason, their travel decision-making may be influenced by the opinions of family members and travel companions at the same stage of life. External factors that influence travel decision-making can include the destination country’s history and culture, social security, language environment, entry visa conditions, and the appeal of tourism resources, work salary and opportunities, accessibility of transportation, and other factors [14, 20].

To analyze the logical thinking behind an individual’s travel decision making, Golledge and Stimson [22] divided their decision-making model into four categories: (1) riskless theories, which assume that economic rationality is a prerequisite. These theories propose that individuals can obtain complete decision-making information to maximize their decision outcomes in relation to specific benefits. In brief, according to theories of economic rationality, individuals will always select the best alternative and will find a unique solution among multiple variables; (2) theories of risky decision making, which involve the concepts of risk and uncertainty. Risk refers to a knowledge system detailing the probabilities of various possible outcomes; risk is produced when humans make choices. Uncertainty refers to conditions in which decision makers are unable to identify the probability of a given outcome, because it is due to the uncertain situation that occurs when humans interact with the environment; (3) transitivity in decision making, which proposes that individuals start out by juxtaposing four or more goals, reaching a transitive choice through pairwise or triplet-wise comparisons when evaluating their decision; and (4) theories of games and statistical decision functions. These theories are based on mathematical computations of probabilities, where the players use formal reasoning to evaluate which action plan they should adopt to rationally pursue their interests, thereby maximizing their benefits [22].

If travelers use their own personalities to analyze decisions, their decision-making processes may contain several different types of logical thinking. These types include the following: the rational economic man model, which seeks to comprehensively evaluate the factors that influence the implementation or obstruction of an individual’s travel decisions. These include minimizing travel costs, maximizing returns, minimizing travel risks, and maximizing the physical and mental benefits of all travel decisions. The emotional man model considers the preferences and emotions of each traveler, arguing that travel decision-making is influenced by personal, subjective preferences. In the passive man model, the traveler has low self-awareness; his or her travel decision-making is influenced by commercials or other stimuli. Subjective intentions are extremely low and constrained by political, economic, social, cultural, and other structural factors [22, 23].


3. Research methodology and methods

The main study participants were university graduates in Taiwan, and the research focus was on their decision-making regarding destination country and travel behavior when participating in working holidays. By adopting a qualitative research approach and applying “constructivism” as the research concept, this study investigated graduates’ re-examination of past life events through questions raised by the researchers during interviews. “Personal constructs” and “social constructs” were used to understand and reconstruct the knowledge construct of the participants’ experiences. This is because all “reality” can be regarded as the product of personal constructs, which are based on personal cognitive schemata, and social constructs, which are based on the interactions between society and culture. That is, the unique concepts or constructs that are established within a specific physical, psychological, social, and cultural context are used by humans to actively understand the situations that they experience.

The foundation of the personal construct theory is based on personal cognitive processes in the field of psychology. Any reality that humans encounter within their living environment needs to be perceived by their senses followed by information processing and meaning comprehension in the brain in order to generate specific interpretations and judgments [24]. The social construct theory, on the other hand, states that the process of knowledge construction is focused on the product of social constructs based on the inter-subjectivity of knowledge. It centers on the collective understanding of meaning generated through language norms and social interactions. The cognitive development of individuals should be examined within the context of language, community, society, and country [25]. In other words, members of society develop a “collective consciousness” due to their shared norms in society, thereby reflecting their social and cultural traditions, customs, and beliefs [26].

Our strategy for participant recruitment first involved posting announcements on websites related to working holidays and then inviting the subsequent participants via snowball sampling. A total of nine participants were interviewed between January and October 2014, who participated in working holidays between 2010 and 2013. The participants were aged between 24 and 35 years and included three males and six females. Among them, two traveled to Australia (anonymous code: A1–A2), four traveled to Canada (anonymous code: C1–C4), and three traveled to Japan (anonymous code: J1–J3). During the later stages of the interview, much of the interview content was repeated, and it was clear that the information had reached saturation. Open-ended in-depth interviews were selected as the main research method. Each interview was conducted in a comfortable and casual atmosphere, and the length was about 2–4 h. Participants’ consent to the use of recording equipment was obtained prior to conducting the interviews in order to facilitate subsequent collation and analysis. As this was a recall-based study of traveling behaviors, participants were advised before the interview to bring along items that may enhance their memories, such as diaries, photographs, souvenirs, etc. These items facilitated the participants’ recall of their traveling behavior during their working holiday, which enabled them to provide more detailed research data.


4. The internal personal thinking in country decision-making of working  holiday

During the decision-making process of whether to participate in working holidays, influencing factors included the external connectedness of individuals’ personal internal motivation and personal resources in terms of psychology, personal budget, and interpersonal relationships. These factors formed travel obstacles or travel incentives, which in turn influenced participants’ decision-making process regarding destination country for their working holidays.

4.1. Travel obstacles

4.1.1. Poor life adaptation

To individuals, transitioning from a familiar and comfortable space to an unfamiliar space requires a series of physical and mental adjustments. For example, climate conditions, standard of living, language ability, culture shock, and so forth are sufficient causes of anxiety and fear in working holiday travelers. For instance, a WHM who went to Japan mentioned, “My English was not very good and I did not know Japanese. So, language was what I was most afraid I would not adapt to when I went over” (J3, 2014). A WHM who went to Canada was worried about problems with life adaptations and adopted an adjustment strategy: “It was winter when I departed, and I was not sure whether I would be able to adapt. So, I set a bottom line. If in three months’ time I had used up my money, could not find a job, and had not adapted to the country, I would go home” (C3, 2014).

The issues of psychological anxiety faced by WHMs not only involve adapting to life in the travel destination but also include life adaptations for work continuity upon returning to their home country. As working holidays may last up to 1 year, WHMs need to consider the delay in entering the workplace compared to their peers. Some travelers were concerned about this form of psychological stress. For example, one participant stated, “The time between the application and departure was quite difficult because I had quit my job. However, everyone around me was going to interviews, finding jobs, and even starting to work. I felt slight panic because I was worried that I would be one step behind other people in the future” (J1, 2014).

4.1.2. Insufficient travel budget

To WHMs, the travel budget was one of the necessary factors to consider. A lack of a sufficient financial basis would obstruct their sightseeing. For instance, one of the participants mentioned, “I wanted to do this a long time ago, but my family’s finances did not permit it. Thus, I first had to work to feed myself, and after working for a while, I accumulated some savings” (C2, 2014). Therefore, without knowing the local work opportunities and living expenses, some of the WHMs chose to enter the workplace first to prepare a certain amount of travel funds in order to prevent the need to end their travels prematurely and return to Taiwan; they ensured that they had sufficient funds for the costs of living before engaging in working holidays in order to reduce the risks caused by an insufficient travel budget. Another participant said, “Actually, between graduating and traveling abroad, I worked for two to three years and saved up a sum of money. If I really could not find a job, I had some capital that I could spend” (A1, 2014). Thus, we can see that there is an economic threshold for working holidays. Another WHM, who traveled to Japan, stated, “My travel funds were actually from the money I saved up after working for four years because my family did not have enough money to support my indulgence for one year” (J2, 2014).

4.1.3. Family worries

The parents of most WHMs mainly held a suspicious and worried attitude toward working holidays, and some even opposed the idea. This had a certain impact on the planning and decision-making for working holidays. Reasons for opposition from family members included the long duration, the WHMs’ self-care abilities, the nature and content of work, and issues of personal safety. This was because the WHMs often lacked the experience of traveling abroad by themselves when they were growing up. Hence, their parents could not accept that they would be traveling for up to 1 year on their first trip abroad. For example, one participant stated, “My family’s opposition was actually very intense. They felt it was unnecessary, that I have never been abroad but would be going for one year on my first trip” (A2, 2014). In addition, the ability to care for themselves was one of the issues that their parents were worried about. For example, a WHM who traveled to Japan said, “My father hoped that I would not go. Since I could not even fry an egg, he wondered how I was going to survive abroad” (J1, 2014). Furthermore, the work that WHMs engaged in were in primary industries, and their families were worried that they could not endure the hardships or were not used to laborious work and were worried about their daily lives. A WHM who engaged in agricultural work in Australia stated, “At that time, my parents felt that I would not be able to adjust, and would come home after one or two months. At that time, I already knew that I would be picking strawberries (agricultural work), and I would come home if I could not take it” (A1, 2014). In addition, there were issues of personal safety, and this was a substantial force of obstruction for the female population. A female WHM who went to Canada stated, “Our family is a traditional, conservative family, and they are more worried about whether a girl on her own abroad would encounter any dangers” (C4, 2014).

4.1.4. The impact of intangible forces

The present study found that when female WHMs were deciding whether to participate in working holidays, they would consult traditional religious beliefs or intangible supernatural forces within Taiwan’s cultural atmosphere, such as fortune telling, Tarot cards, and so on. For example, one participant mentioned, “Because my parents have more traditional views and they believe that girls like me should be married and live a stable life, they had my fortune told” (A1, 2014). Although traditional intangible forces are not the main factor influencing decisions to participate in working holidays, they have a certain level of influence. For instance, one participant stated, “My greatest obstacle was that I had my fortune told and asked whether I should participate in this working holiday. The fortune teller said the outlook was not good, which made me very uneasy at that time, and afraid that I would encounter misfortunes. After that, one of my classmates was learning to read Tarot cards and I asked them to read mine, which also influenced my decision slightly” (C3, 2014).

4.1.5. Re-analysis

The present study found that the riskless theories proposed by Golledge and Stimson do not occur readily in real environments [22]. Hence, individuals are often unable to adopt “economic rationality” in their thinking in order to choose the best alternative when deciding to travel. On the contrary, during the decision-making process of participating in working holidays, individuals may face substantial uncertainty when performing weighted analysis of their personal subjective views and preferences and constantly revise their thinking. In addition, the present study also found that travel obstacles that influenced WHMs included leaving their past comfortable “environmental bubble” [27], and the anxiety induced by working alone abroad. In order to eliminate their personal insecurities, some WHMs sought comfort from intangible forces, which is a common phenomenon in Eastern countries, and this had a certain level of influence. Furthermore, WHMs’ personal travel budget formed a constraining “economic threshold” in this study, as not all WHMs were able to successfully find suitable jobs when they were traveling. Therefore, during the personal job hunting process, WHMs needed to possess a certain level of finances to meet the initial costs of living in the destination country.

4.2. Travel incentives

4.2.1. Expansion of personal horizons

Curiosity and exploration are motivations for humans to travel. To some youths, a lack of experiences abroad or the influence of peers causes them to have a high level of curiosity toward foreign countries. Thus, they use working holidays as a means to explore the world and realize their personal dreams. This is a deeper level of inner need. For example, one participant stated, “I had not been abroad, and so I wanted to participate in a working holiday. I felt like I wanted find a country to explore and enhance the width and breadth of my life” (A2, 2014). If WHMs had past experiences of independent traveling, they were more prone to travel to other countries through these working holidays in order to come into contact with people, events, and objects that were different from their past experiences. This enabled them to engage in continuous self-reflection, absorb different values and thus achieve self-actualization, which fulfills a higher level of need. Another participant also stated, “By leaving Taiwan and living in a different city or country, I was hoping to live in a different place and come into contact with different people and different perspectives through my travels” (C3, 2014).

4.2.2. Transformation of stressful emotions

For youths who have graduated and entered the workplace, long-term exposure to the workplace can easily lead to anxiety, tension, and other negative emotions. Thus, due to physical and mental fatigue, they hope that a long vacation can help them to avoid stress, relieve tensions, escape from fatigue, and find complementarity and balance in body and mind. For example, one participant stated, “Because I had worked for a long time, I wanted to rest. This trip was for rest and to travel. I wanted to travel around to sightsee and relax” (C3, 2014). In other words, a major reason for engaging in working holidays is to provide a breathing space through this channel. This allowed the WHMs to temporarily escape the workplace; enter a completely unfamiliar environment; live with more carefreeness in order to seek the release of all restraints, grievances, and ailments; and relax completely. As pointed out by another participant, “Maybe because I accumulated too much stress, my immunity was dysfunctional and I came down with many strange illnesses. At that time, I really wanted to leave the company and rest” (J2, 2014).

4.2.3. Earning the first pot of gold

For many new graduates, engaging in independent travel first requires undertaking employment to earn sufficient travel funds, whereas working holidays are a means to earn money. One WHM mentioned, “For independent travel, you might run out of travel funds one day. If you work at the same time, you can also earn some travel funds, which is a better method” (C4, 2014). Within this context, the emergence of “working holidays” happens to form a third option, which allows participants to work and play at the same time, experiencing diverse leisure activities while also earning their daily living expenses through labor opportunities in foreign countries. This satisfies the original intention of working holidays. As mentioned by one participant, “I was able to experience local life and also earn money. I initially wanted to travel, work, and experience at the same time. Yes! This was my goal for going in the first place” (C1, 2014).

4.2.4. Seeking peer companionship

The present study found that during the working holiday period, if there was insufficient tourism information and resources in the foreign country, having a companion was extremely beneficial to the generation of working holiday behaviors. The advantages were that WHMs had someone to rely on and could take care of each other. In addition, having a companion helped to reduce the anxiety and fear produced on a psychological level and boosted their courage to undertake a working holiday. As mentioned by one participant, “After all, everything was very unfamiliar, and so with a companion abroad we could share our troubles and support each other in some circumstances” (C2, 2014). As working holidays involve traveling abroad for up to 1 year, they present a greater challenge to the young female population. Hence, the companionship of peers can mutually boost their courage, and when they encounter problems or setbacks, they will have someone to accompany them to resolve their problems. This will increase their willingness to travel abroad to participate in working holidays. In addition, due to considerations for personal safety, peer companionship is an important factor for females when participating in working holidays. As mentioned by one participant, “I feel that especially for females, when you go somewhere unfamiliar and know nothing about the place, having someone to accompany you and to find your way together gives a very warm and different feeling. So, for girls, I recommend finding someone to boost each other’s courage” (A1, 2014).

4.2.5. Mastering social connections

Long-term and long-distance cross-spatial movement will often lead to worries. Despite a lack of prior experience in traveling abroad, if WHMs have familiar social networks in their destination country (e.g., relatives, classmates, friends, etc.), it will help to enhance their willingness to participate in working holidays. As mentioned by one participant, “Since someone I knew had migrated to Canada, even though it was unfamiliar, I felt more at ease because someone was over there” (C1, 2014). In other words, social connections played an important role in working holidays in Australia, Canada, and Japan. Having someone to depend on in an unfamiliar country provided WHMs with peace of mind. In addition, social contacts can also increase the opportunities for employment and shorten the time taken for job searching during the working holiday, even enabling WHMs to find a job immediately after arriving in their destination country. Another participant stated, “It is better if you have friends there. You can take care of each other. I got my first job through their recommendation, so I had quite a good job immediately, and did not need to spend too much time finding jobs” (C2, 2014).

4.2.6. Re-analysis

Travel incentives on the level of psychology, income earning, and interpersonal relationships all had different extents of influence on the personal decision-making process of WHMs, which promoted their willingness to travel abroad to participate in working holidays. Specifically, the income earning dimension was both a restriction and an opportunity; hence, it was a “double-edged sword.” In other words, individual finances were one of the limiting factors that formed a travel obstacle; however, in terms of WHMs’ motivation, working holidays were also a means to earn income or cover local travel expenses. In addition, the present study found that the travel behavior of WHMs was also influenced by their peer groups. The formation of travel groups with members in the same stage of life enhanced the feasibility of travel behavior, which reflects the importance of peers in traveling, as highlighted in the individual-community theory [20].


5. The external driving forces in country decision-making of working holiday

The personal decision-making process of WHMs when choosing the destination country for their working holiday is not only influenced by their personal internal motivations: external structural factors, including the attractiveness of the environment, economic stability, social security, and national policies also have a crucial impact, which forms the social construct of the participant.

5.1. The attraction of nature and humanistic tourism resources

Due to the non-uniform distribution of resources among countries, whether a country has a unique natural landscape was an important factor for consideration when WHMs were deciding on a destination country. Natural sightseeing resources include terrains, climate, hydrology, ecology, etc. Aside from personal preferences, the “uniqueness” of tourism landscapes was generally mentioned as an important factor in decision making. For example, WHMs who traveled to Australia or Canada placed greater emphasis on the natural landscape. As stated by one participant, “Uluru is quite famous” (A1, 2014). Another participant also mentioned, “The Rocky Mountains. I love magnificent landscapes, and Canada’s environment was very attractive to me. I was also able to visit other parts of North America, see the auroras, and it snows in their climate” (C1, 2014). Furthermore, the “exoticness” of the traveling environment, or the disparity of climate and ecological conditions compared to Taiwan also drove the motivation to travel. As mentioned by one participant, “When I was young, I thought the maple leaves were very beautiful. I needed to go to a temperate country with maple leaves and beautiful autumns, so I went to Canada” (C4, 2014). In other words, personally witnessing the natural landscape resources of foreign countries was the goal of some WHMs.

As for attraction to a country’s humanistic history, as Taiwan was influenced by the colonial rule of the Japanese government, this has resulted in a curiosity and longing by WHMs toward Japanese culture. One participant said, “I have loved Japanese culture since I was young and have always wanted to go traveling there” (J2, 2014). Furthermore, another aim of working holidays in Japan is to better experience the unique cultural resources in Japan, such as Japanese television dramas, anime, pop songs, authentic Japanese lifestyles, famous sites and architecture, and so on. Another participant stated, “I usually watch Japanese dramas and anime, and listen to Japanese songs. I am also very interested in Japan’s culture and local life” (J2, 2014). One participant also mentioned, “Their history is full of flavor. You can see many places where they are different, and are worthy of consideration by Taiwanese people, regardless of whether it is tourism, infrastructure, culture, or historical sites” (J3, 2014).

5.2. Work stability

The working conditions of the travel destinations were also an important factor when WHMs were choosing a country for their working holidays. The ability to find local job opportunities before traveling abroad would reduce the anxiety caused by job hunting. For example, some WHMs who traveled to Japan or Australia were able to obtain jobs in exchange for room and board through the “World-Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms” (WWOOF) program. For example, one participant stated, “There is a WWOOF organization where you can search for good hosts and good reviews before contacting them. You can plan to stay with one farm one month, and move on to another the next month. There are many choices” (J2, 2014). Another participant, who went to Australia, stated, “When I went to Australia, the exchange rate for the Australian dollar was very high, almost the same as the US dollar, and could be earned more easily. Their wages and welfare are quite good. Even if you are on a working holiday visa, you will be given the most basic hourly wage. Compared to Taiwan, their welfare is really good” (A1, 2014).

Nevertheless, if too many working holiday visas are issued, it will lead to competition in labor opportunities, which will decrease the willingness of WHMs to travel abroad. For example, the number of WHMs traveling to Australia has increased drastically recently, leading to a massive influx of people and causing an oversupply of labor. Thus, some WHMs had to give up on the idea and choose other countries. A WHM who traveled to Canada stated, “When Australia first opened up, it was very good, but jobs were more difficult to find afterwards. I have also heard that the number of illegal workers there has increased, and I was worried that I would not be able to find a job” (C1, 2014).

5.3. Level of social security

Aside from work stability, the level of social security in destination countries was also a major factor influencing the selection of country. Countries with a high level of economic development, high social security, and abundant job opportunities were more attractive to WHMs. One participant stated, “If I went to countries that are less developed, I might be afraid. However, because it was Canada, I felt that it would generally be safe” (C1, 2014). Furthermore, a higher level of understanding of a country was also an important reference during the decision-making process for the destination country. For example, Australia began its working holiday scheme relatively early, and hence more relevant information is available. WHMs will share their working holiday experiences through books, the Internet, and other media in order for future WHMs to gain a more detailed understanding on living, working, and traveling in the country, thus enabling them to make prior preparations. For example, one participant stated, “Australia has been opened up for longer and so information can be more easily found online. Someone will share where they have found work and what activities you can do” (A1, 2014).

5.4. Future usefulness of language learning

Within the trend of globalization, having a certain level of foreign language proficiency was one of the basic abilities that young people attached great importance to. The working holidays provided a good opportunity to learn verbal abilities for foreign languages. As mentioned by one participant, “I wanted to learn some Japanese and hope to be fluent, so I practiced my verbal and listening abilities… I feel that when you go there, the most important thing is that you must dare to speak. In Taiwan, you only speak to your teacher, but in the environment of Japan, you need to speak anytime and anywhere” (J2, 2014). Students in Taiwan begin receiving formal English language education in primary school in order to cultivate a global outlook and increase their international competitiveness. However, since their learning goals are to pass examinations and further their studies, their English listening and verbal communication abilities are often relatively weak. Hence, to improve their English language proficiency, WHMs may place more emphasis in considering English-speaking Australia or Canada when deciding on their destination country. As stated by one participant, “It may have been related to English-speaking countries because I wanted to practice my English. I feel that my English is not very good, and I only dare to speak English when I am there” (C1, 2014). As can be seen, when selecting a destination country, WHMs will often consider the future usefulness of language learning. Most of them hoped that 1 year of language learning would help them to improve their foreign language proficiency, and even to obtain the relevant language proficiency certificates, which would increase future job opportunities. One participant stated, “My thinking was that after learning English over there, I can come back to Taiwan and find English-related jobs. My English did improve” (A1, 2014). Another participant also mentioned, “After I returned to Taiwan, I did some Japanese translation jobs” (J1, 2014).

5.5. Difficulty of obtaining visas

The application requirements for tourist visas were one of the major factors influencing the traveling decision-making of WHMs. As different countries have signed agreements with different conditions and restrictions with Taiwan, this had an impact on the decision-making process of WHMs regarding their destination country. A WHM who traveled to Canada stated, “Originally, I wanted to go to New Zealand as well, but it was too troublesome. I think there were only 600 places and it was lottery-based, so Canada was my first choice” (C1, 2014). Using Australia as an example, it has a high quota, simplified application process, and rapid visa issuance, which were important incentives to WHMs. As stated by one participant, “There were few restrictions and many places. As long as individuals do not have any major illnesses, they can obtain an Australian visa” (A2, 2014). Furthermore, the upper age limit posed a restriction on the choices of WHMs. The majority of countries impose an age limit of below 30 years for WHMs. However, Canada relaxed this limit to 35 years, which became an opportunity for youths over 30 years to engage in working holidays. One participant stated, “Since I was already over 30, I could only choose Canada because they allow people up to 35 years of age” (C2, 2014). Moreover, applicants’ language proficiency was often a restriction for visa applications. For example, although Japan has an annual application quota of 5000, they require written reasons for engaging in a working holiday and a plan of future activities, as well as the relevant Japanese language test certificate. Hence, visa applications for Japan are more difficult than Australia and Canada. As stated by one participant, “Although Japan does not specify how good your Japanese must be, I would guess that if you have a Japanese test certificate, you would not be eliminated in the first round. And you need to write a plan” (J2, 2014). Another WHM who traveled to Canada stated, “I knew that you needed to know some Japanese for Japan, so I gave up on it” (C1, 2014).

5.6. Re-analysis

According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs [15], in terms of the connections between personal needs and external structure, the lowest levels of physiological needs and safety needs must be met first. Therefore, work stability and social security of the working holiday country were the primary factors in WHMs' country decision-making process. In addition, sightseeing resources have regional differences and are immovable, and hence they are often able to attract tourists. Moreover, the environment for language learning and the requirements for a working holiday visa were also important driving forces for participation in working holidays.


6. Analysis of the spatial range and influencing factors of travel  behaviors

WHMs’ travel behavior can be explored on a spatial scale in order to analyze the effects of personal subjective factors and external objective factors.

6.1. Analysis of spatial range of travel behavior

6.1.1. Short-distance travel behavior

In general, tourist activities mostly refer to long-distance travel behaviors. However, in daily life, there is still a general need for “recreational activities.” Some WHMs pointed out that they would use their free time to engage in certain regular outdoor recreational activities, such as taking walks, taking photographs, cycling, having outings, dining out, and so on. Their goal was to relax. As stated by one participant, “In the afternoon, everyone might meet up for sightseeing nearby, cycle somewhere, or take photographs nearby, or go out for a walk at night to enjoy a sky full of stars. To me, this was also having fun” (J3, 2014). In addition, to some WHMs, going shopping was also a means to enjoy the novelty and exoticness of the shopping process. For example, one participant stated, “At the beginning, even going to the supermarket was exciting. Visiting the supermarket was also very interesting to me” (J2, 2014). Another participant also pointed out, “I really liked visiting the local market to buy random things and to see different people, events, and things. If you integrate into their lives, you will have a different feeling” (C2, 2014). In brief, the novelty of a foreign space induced the willingness of WHMs to engage in regular recreational activities and to expand their personal horizons. In addition, cultural experience activities not only enabled WHMs to effectively integrate into local society but also interact with local residents; it would enable them to gain deeper experiences of the local culture and lifestyle. For example, concerning the experiences of local customs, one participant said, “Once, I was a guest at a Japanese household. Since it was New Year’s, we worshiped in a shrine, offered coins, drew lots, and pulled the bell ropes for happiness” (J3, 2014). Another WHM, who traveled to Canada, mentioned, “I was very happy to spend Thanksgiving at my friend’s house, and we ate a turkey dinner. I was finally able to experience the foreigner feeling” (C4, 2014). Thus, we can see that participating in the local customs and festivals provided WHMs with a deeper tourist experience.

Furthermore, social gatherings were the most common recreational activities among WHMs. As there was no need for a fixed time, place, or form, they could easily meet backpackers from around the world during these gatherings; hence, WHMs were often attracted to these social gatherings. For example, one participant stated, “The farm owner loved organizing parties. There was one nearly every week, with food, fun, and the chance to meet friends” (J3, 2014). Therefore, social activities were one of the best ways for WHMs to meet foreign friends, expand their contacts, and enhance their relationships. Another participant also stated, “Everyone shared how to cook, make, and eat certain dishes. My special dish was salt and pepper chicken, and the foreigners really liked it” (A1, 2014).

6.1.2. Long-distance travel behaviors

Due to geographical and historical differences, the sightseeing resources of each country have differing levels of attractiveness. This provided WHMs with diverse opportunities for tourist activities such as sightseeing in unique natural attractions and participation in festivals or themed activities. Special attractions include terrain, climate, ecology, and cultural landscapes, for example, special surface types and structures, unique wildlife, and cultural and historical landscapes. As mentioned by one participant, “We visited a place called Mount Rainier. The glaciers were extremely beautiful. There was glacial terrain as far as the eye could see” (C4, 2014). Another participant also stated, “We climbed Uluru. It changes color under sunlight at different times, so it was not surprising that it is known as a holy mountain to the locals” (A1, 2014). Aside from personally witnessing these natural landscapes that cannot be found in Taiwan, WHMs also stressed that coming into close contact with wildlife was a rare tourist experience, for instance, being able to see polar bears, elks, and brown bears in person. As stated by one participant, “At the entrance of the tourist center, I saw a brown bear, and it was very large. It was standing right next to you when you passed by. It was very exciting” (C2, 2014). Another participant, who went to Australia and was able to hold a koala and take photographs with kangaroos, mentioned, “I even held a koala. I think we will not be able to do this in Taiwan! I had photographs taken with kangaroos as well. They were very tall” (A1, 2014).

Special cultural and historical landscapes were also tourist attractions that attracted WHMs, including residences, shrines, ancient cities, canals, churches, and other tourist sites. As stated by one participant, “Do you know a place called Gassho Village? They have many small wooden and thatched cottages. It was like a fairy tale. It was a World Heritage Site … There were also national treasures such as Matsumoto Castle and Torii. I visited a few interesting shrines” (J2, 2014). Special festivals and themed activities also provided WHMs with opportunities for cultural experiences and diverse entertainment. They encourage WHMs to gain a deeper awareness and understanding of local history and culture. Hence, they are highly attractive and tourists often travel specifically to see them, for example, St. Patrick’s Day in Canada and the Obon Festival in Japan. One participant mentioned, “The Japanese Obon Festival is around August 15 every year, and they have the Bon dance. I was dressed up as a girl. It was a very interesting experience, which I will never forget” (J3, 2014).

In addition, if WHMs are interested in sports activities, they would specially arrange to attend important sporting events, such as the Australian Open tennis tournament, Canadian ice hockey, American professional basketball games, and so on. As stated by one participant, “My dream was to see the Australian Open and I really went! I quite like tennis, and seeing it live is not the same as seeing it on the television” (A1, 2014). Another participant also mentioned, “For those who play basketball, when they come here (North America), they must see the NBA. The games make you high” (C2, 2014).

6.1.3. Re-analysis

The spatial travel behaviors of WHMs are often restricted by the industry type and work patterns that they undertake. Thus, their travel behaviors show temporal and spatial differences, for example, regarding time allocation, job type, transportation, and other factors; hence, they exhibit a variety of patterns. This echoes the concept of time geography proposed by Hägerstraand [11], which emphasizes the temporal factors of human activities in space. Humans are influenced by multiple structural factors, which restrict the extent of their living in geographical space [11].

6.2. Influencing factors on travel behaviors

6.2.1. Association of job type with travel behaviors

Due to differences in the job types undertaken by WHMs, the structural factor of industry work patterns had an impact on the time available for tourism. The different industries that WHMs were working in led to a variety of travel behaviors. Travel behaviors and work patterns on a “weekly” scale

For labor-based agricultural work, due to their long weekly hours and physically demanding jobs, WHMs mostly chose to return home to rest after work. Hence, short-distance travel behaviors were not frequent. As mentioned by one participant, “Farming is probably the most tiring job. I went to bed immediately after going back” (J1, 2014). Another participant also mentioned, “At night, the most I would do is watch films and relax because I worked the entire day” (A1, 2014). As the tourist services industry is also affected by the peak and off-peak seasons, a similar phenomenon was observed. During the peak season, WHMs had long and intense working hours every day. For example, WHMs who undertook hotel cleaning jobs in Canada had to work for eight hours a day. Hence, short-distance travel behaviors were not easy for jobs with such characteristics. As mentioned by one participant, “Working in hotels involved eight hours a day, 40 hours a week. I was working fully during the weekdays and had no time to have fun so I could save more money” (C2, 2014).

As for the general service industry, due to the 2-day weekend system, WHMs had shorter working hours and more flexible work schedules. For example, working as a waiter in Canada involved about 4- or 5-h work days. Hence, WHMs could use the time after work or vacation time for short-distance travel behaviors. One participant stated, “They rest two days a week and the café did not need to be open then, so I could plan trips over the weekend. I was quite lucky” (C3, 2014). Travel behaviors and work patterns on a “yearly” scale

The agricultural industry mostly involves seasonal labor work that is intensive but short term. The work transition period provides the perfect opportunity for WHMs to engage in long-distance travel behaviors. As mentioned by one participant, “Farms are seasonal. Once the farm work has ended, you will need to wait more than two months for the next job. So, for a long period of time, I was having fun” (A2, 2014).

The tourism industry, with its peak and off-peak seasons, also showed the same phenomenon. This type of job was mainly concentrated in the tourist seasons, for example, during the skiing season in Canada, the maple season in Japan, and so on. Some of the WHMs used their job transition period to undertake long-distance travel behaviors. For example, one participant stated, “Usually, I do not travel very far. If you want to travel far, it can only be during the period between ending one job and transitioning to another job. Then, you can have more fun” (J2, 2014).

As for the general service industry, due to the more advanced job requirements and more professional content of work, employers often hope that WHMs can be long-term employees. Hence, under the limitations of these job conditions, WHMs must remain in a fixed city for a long period of time and work intensively until the final few months of their visa. Then, they will quit their job and engage in long-term and long-distance travel behaviors. One participant stated, “As work was more intensive, I worked until a certain stage and only then began to have fun. I had the most fun during the last month and a half” (C1, 2014).

6.2.2. Association with transport modes

The selection of transport mode and transport costs had an impact on WHMs’ travel behaviors. If WHMs had a private car for transport, they were not restricted by public transportation. Hence, not only did they have high mobility, they kept a high level of flexibility in their itinerary planning and were more prone to exhibiting long-distance travel behaviors. As stated by one participant, “Australia is very big. We bought a car so it was convenient to travel anywhere, and we went to all the places that we should have gone. So, we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves” (A1, 2014). WHMs will often use car rentals to travel. This not only gives them the freedom to travel but also the costs of renting the car can be split among many individuals, which helps promote long-distance travel behaviors. As mentioned by one participant, “When we go for outings, we often rent a car. For example, we drove to Kakadu and Uluru, which saved us some money for the whole trip” (A2, 2014).

Compared to driving their own cars, the limitations of taking public transport to travel, for example, VIA Rail in Canada, include low mobility, fewer tourist spots, and longer travel times. Moreover, sightseeing is only possible near rail or bus stations, which limits the types of tourist activities. For example, one participant stated, “Taking the railway in Canada takes a long time, with only a few stops in the middle. So, you can only visit the places near the station for a few hours, and cannot go too far” (C1, 2014). However, taking public transport for sightseeing within cities had the advantage of reducing travel costs, which enabled WHMs to engage in more short-distance travel behaviors. As mentioned by another participant, “One advantage of the monthly pass was that on Family Day and during the weekends, each pass allowed two people to travel free of charge. So, during the weekends, we went shopping and on outings together. The fares during the holidays were cheaper” (C1, 2014).

6.2.3. Re-analysis

The present study found that for the general service industry, the working hours were short and vacations were flexible, which benefitted short-distance travel behaviors during the weekdays, including regular recreational activities, participation in social gatherings, and cultural experience activities. Furthermore, the general service industry has more advanced job requirements, which implied that the long-term employment involved was not favorable to long-distance travel behaviors. Therefore, WHMs mostly used the final few months of their visas to engage in long-distance travel activities, such as visiting special attractions or participating in specific festival activities. Conversely, the tourism and agriculture industries are affected by the peak and off-peak seasons in the industry and also involve intensive and concentrated working hours. Hence, WHMs could not easily engage in short-distance travel behaviors, whereas their long-distance travel behaviors could be arranged between job transition periods.

In addition, the mode of transport could promote individuals’ spatial mobility. Different modes of transport had different effects on the spatial mobility of individuals’ travel behaviors, although advances in transport technology have transformed the mode of movement among tourists, giving them more flexibility and mobility during their travels. Public transport results in traveling being more linear, and the spatial travel behavior of tourists is limited to the transport corridors, for example, along railway lines or shipping routes [28]. The present study found that WHMs’ travel behavior was closely related to their choice of transport type, which influenced the duration and spatial range of their travel behaviors. WHMs who rented or bought second-hand cars for travel did not have temporal or spatial limitations due to the mobility of cars. Hence, they were free to choose their travel itinerary and time spent at tourist attractions. Conversely, WHMs who took public transport had more temporal and spatial restrictions, which was less conducive to long-distance travel behaviors.


7. Conclusion

Newly graduated students are in a transition phase in developing their careers. They face important decisions about furthering their studies or undertaking employment. Hence, the working holiday model, which combines work and holiday, seems to be a third option, beyond graduate studies and employment. When choosing a destination country, WHMs often face a complex process of travel decision making. In this study, the rational economic or passive man proposed by Golledge and Stimson was rarely observed [22]. Instead, the emotional man model was often adopted during the personal decision-making process, as were numerous factors relating to subjective preferences. A transitivity strategy adopted during the evaluation of decisions may have helped to select the most beneficial plan. Conversely, when faced with environmental constraints and numerous factors involving risk and uncertainty, individuals may employ the Minimax principle of game theory. This principle involves a negative screening strategy, ensuring that players can still maximize their benefits.

When it comes to internal factors that can influence an individual’s travel decision-making, personal psychology, travel budgets, interpersonal relationships, and family worries can all become travel obstructions or incentives. Among these, family concerns, which cause travelers to seek answers and spiritual comfort through the power of traditional beliefs, are a common social phenomenon in Eastern countries, crucially impacting the individual’s travel decision making. Furthermore, the individual’s economic capability was a double-edged sword in this study. If the chance to earn an income motivated travelers and promoted working holidays, an insufficient travel budget led to unsuccessful travels. Interpersonal relationships and social connections were one of the key driving forces that promoted working holidays. In terms of environmental and structural limitations, as proposed by Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, an individual’s physiological and safety needs must be satisfied before they can focus on higher order psychological, exploratory, and self-actualization needs [15]. Individuals have several different levels of needs when traveling. For example, job stability and social security were the key concerns of WHMs in their working holidays. At the psychological level, travel activities often help individuals to meet higher order cognitive, exploratory, and self-actualization needs. For this reason, opportunities and constraints are constructed within the travel decision-making behavior of WHMs by the environmental features of their travel destination, such as the attractiveness of tourist resources, the language learning environment, salary and job opportunities, and visa application requirements.

From the theoretical perspective of time geography, this study found that the spatial travel behaviors of WHMs were deeply influenced by the types of jobs they undertook. WHMs in different industries were assessed in relation to their job patterns and time, thus producing different travel needs and behaviors. Labor-intensive agricultural workers could not easily engage in short-distance travel behaviors in their daily lives; whereas the service industry, which had more flexible working hours, was conducive to regular recreational activities among the WHMs. In terms of long-distance travel behaviors, WHMs in different industries had to coordinate their travel needs with their job types. Hence, different timings were observed in their travel behaviors. Most WHMs exhibited long-distance travel behaviors during the off-peak season, job transition period, and before the expiration of their work visas. Furthermore, the type of transportation used by individuals also influenced the paths and range of their travels. As mentioned by Hägerstraand [11], the range of spatial movements in the daily lives of humans is influenced by a number of structural factors. An individual’s physiological capabilities, access to transportation, production activities, and legal regulations, among other factors, will impose constraints and limitations on the temporal and spatial aspects of his or her daily activities [11]. Evidently, under the influence of internal subjective preferences and external structural limitations, WHMs showed a diverse range of travel behaviors.


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Written By

Chin-cheng Ni, Chien-yu Tsao and Ying-hsiang Wang

Submitted: March 28th, 2017 Reviewed: July 6th, 2017 Published: December 20th, 2017