The Philosophy of Travel

Anyone who has done it will tell you that traveling, when done right, is sort of like a religious experience…or like a drug.  Once you get the itch it can be impossible to fully scratch – sure, it may ebb now and again, but it is sure to creep back in and leave you compulsively planning how you can embark on your next adventure.  Even bad trips eventually turn into a fond memory – a new story that you can brag about to other travelers.

And like any drug worth doing, those who are hooked on traveling will find a way to make it happen.  Priorities shift, you skimp where you used to splurge, and save what you used to frivolously spend.  You begin to see each dollar as a caveat that can take you one step closer to your next destination.  And the good thing is, there are ways to travel on any budget.

In fact, some of the best experiences come from those times you are forced to get in the trenches, so to speak, and really experience and immerse yourself in the region of the world you are in.  Fancy hotels, swanky train trips, and pricey tours allow you to barley scratch the surface of a town.  Sure, you may not be used to sleeping in a hammock rather than a bed, but to some, that is their everyday life.  And if you approach your travels with no expectations, you may gain a new perspective by which to measure your own life and your own happiness.  Simply put – travel changes you.

Over the years, travel has meant different things to different people.  Everyone has a different travel philosophy – and for most, it will contintue to change for as long as they continue to travel…gathering new colors with which to paint their own canvas.

Here is a collection of thoughts on the subject:

“Not all those who wander are lost.”  -  J. R. R. Tolkien

“Once you have traveled, the voyage never ends, but is played out over and over again in the quiestest chambers. The mind can never break off from the journey.”  -  Pat Conroy

“A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.”  - Lao Tzu

“Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.”  -  Miriam Beard

“All travel has its advantages. If the passenger visits better countries, he may learn to improve his own. And if fortune carries him to worse, he may learn to enjoy it.”  -  Samuel Johnson

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts.  Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”  -  Mark Twain

“Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail” –  Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends.”  –  Maya Angelou

“Tourists don’t know where they’ve been, travelers don’t know where they’re going.” -  Paul Theroux

“Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life.”  -  Jack Kerouac

“The traveler sees what he sees.  The tourist sees what he has come to see.” –  G.K. Chesterton

“Wandering re-establishes the original harmony which once existed between man and the universe.”  -  Anatole France

“All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.”  -  Martin Buber

“Your true traveler finds boredom rather agreeable than painful. It is the symbol of his liberty-his excessive freedom. He accepts his boredom, when it comes, not merely philosophically, but almost with pleasure.”  -  Aldous Huxley

“To awaken quite alone in a strange town is one of the pleasantest sensations in the world.”  - Freya Stark

“If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay at home.”  -  James Michener

“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.”  -  St. Augustine

“To my mind, the greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted.”  -  Bill Bryson

“Traveling is a brutality. It forces you to trust strangers and to lose sight of all that familiar comfort of home and friends. You are constantly off balance. Nothing is yours except the essential things – air, sleep, dreams, the sea, the sky – all things tending towards the eternal or what we imagine of it.”  -  Cesare Pavese

“People travel to faraway places to watch, in fascination, the kind of people they ignore at home.”  -  Dagobert D. Runes

“And that’s the wonderful thing about family travel:  it provides you with experiences that will remain locked forever in the scar tissue of your mind.”  -  Dave Barry

“I met a lot of people in Europe.  I even encountered myself.” –  James Baldwin

“When preparing to travel, lay out all your clothes and all your money.  Then take half the clothes and twice the money.” –  Susan Heller

“The first condition of understanding a foreign country is to smell it.” –  Rudyard Kipling

“Like all great travelers, I have seen more than I remember, and remember more than I have seen.”  -  Benjamin Disraeli

“The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.”  –  G. K. Chesterton

“I have found out that there ain’t no surer way to find out whether you like people or hate them than to travel with them.”  -  Mark Twain

“I soon realized that no journey carries one far unless, as it extends into the world around us, it goes an equal distance into the world within.” –  Lillian Smith

“To travel is to discover that everyone is wrong about other countries.” –  Aldous Huxley

“We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.” –  Jawaharial Nehru

“What you’ve done becomes the judge of what you’re going to do – especially in other people’s minds. When you’re traveling, you are what you are right there and then. People don’t have your past to hold against you. No yesterdays on the road.” –  William Least Heat Moon

“Adventure is a path. Real adventure – self-determined, self-motivated, often risky – forces you to have firsthand encounters with the world. The world the way it is, not the way you imagine it. Your body will collide with the earth and you will bear witness. In this way you will be compelled to grapple with the limitless kindness and bottomless cruelty of humankind – and perhaps realize that you yourself are capable of both. This will change you. Nothing will ever again be black-and-white.”  -  Mark Jenkins