Quotes that make me want to dust off my hiking boots, grab my passport and cast off into the life and current of travel.
8. “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.”
This quote by Italian writer Cesare Pavese beautifully captures the ideology of authentic travel. When we leave our homes, even for a short time, we are forced out of who we have always been and have to rely on the decency of people we’ve never met. I especially noticed this while travelling in Vienna, meeting pen pals for the first time and staying with strangers. Traveling wrenches us from our cultural and personal comfort zones and gives us a sense of what’s essential: “all things tending toward the eternal.”
7. “A journey is best measured in friends, rather than miles.”
I love this quote by Outside editor and travel writer, Tim Cahill. Yes, I am obsessed with the restorative solitude of travel. I’ve had some of my favorite moments alone on some mountain, contemplating quantum theories, the universe and other casual dinner topics. However, I really believe relationships are the main part of the meaning of life, and I wouldn’t be anywhere without the friendships I’ve made along the way. You all teach me the true joy and purpose of home.
6. “Not all who wander are lost.”
The essential quote for any comprehensive list about travel. It comes from a poem from The Fellowship of the Ring, the first of Tolkien’s three epics which epitomize long journeys into the wider world. I get especially nostalgic about these novels since I finished them while completing an internship in Slovakia, Poland and the Czech Republic. I would spend hours reading near the medieval castle in the city center, feeling very much like a little hobbit off on a great adventure.
5. “A journey is like a marriage. The certain way to be wrong is to think you can control it.”
John Steinbeck got it right when he acknowledged no matter our good intentions, careful planning and lovely, color-coded itineraries: shit happens. Sometimes your backpack rips open while you’re running across town in the rain. You end up catching the next train and getting abandoned at the sketchiest station in the Czech Republic. Coincidentally where they filmed Hostel, a horror film about murdering backpackers. The route will get changed. The weather will be horrible. You will miss your flight. You will lose your wallet. You will forget how to ask for directions in the few phrases of the language you learned. Things will go wrong, and the best thing to do is embrace Murphy’s law and save it for a good story.
4. “People travel to faraway lands to watch, in fascination the kind of people they ignore at home.”
When people tell me that they don’t have time, money or resources to travel, I point them to this quote. Travelling is not just going to faraway places or spending hours looking at priceless works of art. Travel is about seeing the world with fresh eyes and paying attention to the history and culture of a place. You can be a true traveler in your own country, state or even hometown. Which leads me to the next quote…
3. “The only true voyage of discovery, the only fountain of Eternal Youth, would be not to visit strange lands but to possess other eyes, to behold the universe through the eyes of another, of a hundred others, to behold the hundred universes that each of them beholds, that each of them is…”
This idea by French philosopher Marcel Proust is often misquoted as “the real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new lands but seeing with new eyes.” It’s actually a quote about art, but the idea holds true for the life and spirit of exploration and epiphany.
2. “Travel without reflection is tourism.”
The only quote you won’t find on every other travel blog. It comes from my professor in the Latin American Studies Program in Costa Rica. In one of our first lectures, we were given a quiz on the state of the world, which every student failed. Don Antonio gave an analogy about a group of tourists who visit a beautiful country and stand on the veranda of their upscale hotel. They stare at the people, smell the food from street vendors, see the poverty and richness of the surrounding landscape, but they never leave the balcony. The trick, Don Antonio told us, is to to get off the veranda and walk among the people. The rest of our semester was spent living and working with locals, and it’s changed the way I view travel ever since.
1. “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only a page.”
St. Augustine covers everything in one sentence: experiential learning, great literature, the magic and necessity of movement. Whenever I read this it reminds me why I’ve chosen to live life as a traveler and no matter where I end up, I am grateful.
I hope these quotes have inspired you to open up your own book, get off the veranda and continue your great adventure…
One more for the road:
“No, no! The adventures first, explanations take such a dreadful time.”
― Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass.