Contacts and meetings: Location, duration and distance traveled

Nebiyou Tilahun, David Levinson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


The study of travel for social activities presents layered challenges because of the temporal and spatial flexibility with which such activities can be undertaken and the changing set of decision makers involved in each activity episode. This paper seeks to answer a set of questions based on empirical data about how relationship, social network variables, purpose, personal and household constraints, location attributes, and interdependence between meeting duration, distance, and other meetings provide some structure to the observed social activity location and duration decisions. In particular, we investigate what attributes determine whether a meeting takes place in or out of home, and what explains the distance travelled and the duration of meetings. Empirically we show that in-home meetings tend to occur most often with close contacts and less often with distant contacts. When looking at duration and distance travelled, we find that relationship related variables have some of the largest impacts on the distance travelled and the duration of meetings as compared to other variables. We find that meeting durations with close contacts are on average almost 45 min longer, and that respondents are willing to hold these meetings about 1.5 miles (2.4 km) further away from their residences than they would with non-close contacts. Overall the paper illustrates that relationship type, as well as other meeting specific and demographic variables are important in explaining the location, duration and distance travelled for social meetings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)64-74
Number of pages11
JournalTravel Behaviour and Society
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Hong Kong Society for Transportation Studies.


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