Visit to an Unknown City: Exploring Children’s Fictional Narratives About a Tourist Experience

Roberta Della Croce, Benedetta Elmi, Chiara Fioretti, Andrea Smorti*
Department of Educational Sciences and Psychology, University of Florence, Via di San Salvi, 12 – Padiglione 26, 50100 Firenze, Italy

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© 2018 Della Croce et al.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: ( This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Department of Educational Sciences and Psychology, University of Florence, Via di San Salvi, 12 – Padiglione 26, 50100 Firenze, Italy; Tel: 0039-055275026; E-mail:



Children have an important role in the decision making process about travels. However, research about children in tourism is still lacking. Although scholars have investigated memories of trips, imagination and expectations on visiting new places that have not yet been explored.


To explore children’s narratives about visiting an unknown city.


Fifty-nine third grade 7-to-8-year-old children took part in the study. Children were asked to write a story on the visit to an unknown city starting from a given stem.


Two types of stories emerged from children’s narrations: likelihood and non-likelihood stories. The latter were characterized by the presence of complicating actions and resolutions, villain characters, fight and achievement and were rich in typical elements of fairy tale story. Likelihood stories were characterized by the presence of play and exploration activities, parents characters and the return to home. These type of stories mainly lack complicating action, resolutions and verbal interactions. Finally, these narrations do not show dramatic features as fantasy stories. The lexical analysis of emotions revealed that non-likelihood stories show more negative affective words than likelihood ones.


Results make an important contribution to research on children’s narratives about travel, highlighting children’s imagination and expectations on the travel experience and providing an analysis of their representations.

Keywords: Child tourism, Imagination, Autobiographical memory, Fictional narratives, Tourism experience, Storytelling, Children development, Language development.