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Department of Spatial Planning

Long-Distance Society

‘Advancing knowledge of long-distance travel: uncovering its connections to mobility biography, migration, and daily travel’ (2018-2022); ‘Change in long-distance travel: uncovering travel activity trends, inequalities, and dynamics over the life course’ (since 2022)

Project goals

Trends in long-distance travel are of utmost importance for sustainable transport, and have the potential to offset promising trends in daily mobility such as 'peak car'. While the factors driving increasing demand for long-distance travel are still relatively poorly understood, existing research suggests that some factors may have different effects on short- and long-distance travel. There is growing evidence of important self-reinforcing dynamics in long-distance travel at the societal level, but also at the micro-level - over individual life courses and across generations.

The first phase of the project (2018-2022) pursued the following research objectives:

  1. to develop and apply a ‘mobility biography’ research approach to the study of long-distance travel and its institutionalization;
  2. to better understand the 'mobility links' between international migration and long-distance travel
  3. to better understand the interplay of daily mobility and long-distance travel

The second phase of the project (2022-2025) aims to achieve a better understanding of changes in long-distance travel (and particularly air travel) over time. More specifically, the objectives are:

  1. to track changes in levels of travel activity and patterns of socioeconomic inequality in participation to long-distance and air travel
  2. to identify the determinants of changes in air travel over individual life courses
  3. to document changes in the patterns of association between long-distance and air travel and their individual-level determinants
  4. to improve our understanding of the spatial determinants of air travel from a cross-sectional perspective, with the most recent data available


The findings of the project will contribute to an improved understanding of how the social ‘need’ for high levels of long-distance travel is being locked-in, and will inform the scientific debate on how long-distance travel might evolve in the future, as well as current societal and political debates (e.g., on climate policy), and transport policy making.


Methodologically, the project consists of quantitative analysis of existing survey data. Data analysis techniques include descriptive statistics, regression models, structural equation modelling and classification techniques. The datasets used include a bespoke survey on intergenerational mobility biographies developed by TU Dortmund, the UK Household Longitudinal Survey and the national travel surveys of England and Germany.


German Research Foundation

Project code: SCHE 1692/10-1 (Phase 1); SCHE 1692/10-2 (Phase 2)


Project start and end

October 2018 – February 2025



Dr. Giulio Mattioli,, Telephone ++49 (0)231 755-4144





Mattioli, Giulio / Dobruszkes, Frédéric / Scheiner, Joachim / Wadud, Zia (2023): Editorial: Long-distance travel, between social inequality and environmental constraints. In: Travel Behaviour and Society 30, 38-40.

Büchs, Milena / Mattioli, Giulio (in press). How socially just are taxes on air travel and ‘frequent flyer levies’?, In: Journal of Sustainable Tourism.

Mattioli, Giulio / Scheiner, Joachim / Holz-Rau, Christian (2022): Generational differences, socialisation effects and ‘mobility links’ in international holiday travel. In: Journal of Transport Geography 98, 103263.

Mattioli, Giulio / Scheiner, Joachim (2022): The impact of migration background, ethnicity and social network dispersion on air and car travel in the UK. In: Travel Behaviour & Society 27, 65-78.

Büchs, Milena / Mattioli, Giulio (2021) Trends in air travel inequality in the UK: from the few to the many?, In: Travel Behaviour and Society, 25, 92-101.

Mattioli, Giulio / Morton, Craig / Scheiner, Joachim (2021): Air travel and urbanity: the role of migration, social networks, airport accessibility, and ‘rebound’. In: Urban Planning 6(2). DOI: 10.17645/up.v6i2.3983

Mattioli, Giulio / Adeel, Muhammad (2021). Long-distance travel. In: Vickerman, Roger (Ed.) International Encyclopaedia of Transportation, Elsevier.

Mattioli, Giulio (2020). Towards a mobility biography approach to long-distance travel and ‘mobility links’, In: Scheiner, Joachim / Rau, Henrike (Eds.) Mobility Across the Life Course. A Dialogue between Qualitative and Quantitative Research Approaches, Edgar