The origin of the word "travel" is most likely lost to history. The term "travel" may originate from the Old French word travail, which means 'work'. According to the Merriam Webster dictionary, the first known use of the word travel was in the 14th century. It also states that the word comes from Middle English travailen, travelen (which means to torment, labor, strive, journey) and earlier from Old French travailler (which means to work strenuously, toil). In English we still occasionally use the words "travail", which means struggle. According to Simon Winchester in his book The Best Travelers' Tales (2004), the words "travel" and "travail" both share an even more ancient root: a Roman instrument of torture called the tripalium (in Latin it means "three stakes", as in to impale). This link may reflect the extreme difficulty of travel in ancient times. Today, travel may or may not be much easier depending upon the destination you choose (e.g. Mt. Everest, the Amazon rainforest), how you plan to get there (tour bus, cruise ship, or oxcart), and whether you decide to "rough it" (see extreme tourism and adventure travel). "There's a big difference between simply being a tourist and being a true world traveler", notes travel writer Michael Kasum. This is, however, a contested distinction as academic work on the cultures and sociology of travel has noted.
Reasons for traveling include recreation, tourism or vacationing, research travel the gathering of information, visiting people, volunteer travel for charity, migration to begin life somewhere else, religious pilgrimages and mission trips, business travel, trade, commuting, and other reasons, such as to obtain health care or waging or fleeing war or for the enjoyment of traveling. Travellers may use human-powered transport such as walking or bicycling; or vehicles, such as public transport, automobiles, trains and airplanes.
Motives for travel include:
discovery and exploration,
getting to know other cultures
taking personal time for building interpersonal relationships
Travel may be local, regional, national (domestic) or international. In some countries, non-local internal travel may require an internal passport, while international travel typically requires a passport and visa. A trip may also be part of a round-trip, which is a particular type of travel whereby a person moves from one location to another and returns.
While early travel tended to be slower, more dangerous, and more dominated by trade and migration, cultural and technological advances over many years have tended to mean that travel has become easier and more accessible. The evolution of technology in such diverse fields as horse tack and bullet trains has contributed to this trend.
While travel in the Middle Ages offered hardships and challenges, it was important to the economy and to society. The wholesale sector depended (for example) on merchants dealing with/through caravan or sea-voyagers, end-user retailing often demanded the services of many itinerant peddlers wandering from village to hamlet, gyrovagues and wandering friars brought theology and pastoral support to neglected areas, travelling minstrels practised the never-ending tour, and armies ranged far and wide in various crusades and in sundry other wars.
Pilgrimages involved streams of travellers both locally (Canterbury Tales-style) and internationally.
Travel by water often provided more comfort and speed than land-travel, at least until the advent of a network of railways in the 19th century. Airships and airplanes took over much of the role of long-distance surface travel in the 20th century.