Toys on the Move: Vicarious Travel, Imagination and the Case of Travelling Toy Mascots
For an industry fundamentally fuelled by the desire to experience difference – spatially, culturally or socially – it is surprising that tourism literature has largely overlooked the role imagination plays in travel practice and encounters. In addition to proposing theoretical justi¿cation for an increased emphasis on the imaginative and vicarious, this chapter will argue that these non-corporeal elements of travel experience constitute a touristic encounter in their own right, regardless of whether they are actually integrated with going ‘somewhere’ or ‘elsewhere’ in a physical sense. Empirical evidence supporting this premise will be provided through a case study focusing on travelling with a stuffed animal or toy. Along with a description of the practice, the chapter will consider the ways in which taking photos of the toy, sharing these images and the visualization of a potential audience constitute highly valued components of the experience.