This paper is an autoethnographic exploration of a tourist’s experience. Through interpreting qualitative material, in the form of a poem I wrote in 1994 about a short familial excursion to an Israeli seaside resort city (Eilat), the research seeks to sensitively describe the intricacies of travel experience. The research explores the advantages of the autoethnographic method of inquiry, and discusses tourism-related emotions and memories in the context of performance and representation. The paper joins recent efforts in attempting to challenge and loosen the grip of positivist epistemologies and discourses on mainstream tourism studies, by illustrating the emotional complexities and contradictions in the travel experience of tourists. In line with traditions of critical research in sociology, the exploration sheds light on the materiality of texts and on the role language plays in tourism, viewing the poem read in this paper (‘Quiet Eilat’) simultaneously as a representation, performance and material object of discourse.
Keywords: Performance, qualitative methodology, language, family, travel literature, poetic expression