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Friday 28 July 2017

15 great travel quotes and perspectives on travelling

A collection of some of my favourite travel quotes.

Here are some travel quotes from my long list of favourite quotes - fifteen travel quotations from eminent scholars and travellers, along with perspectives and interpretations of them, plus a bonus one.

The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page. 
― Augustine of Hippo
“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” ― Augustine of Hippo

Augustine of Hippo, also known as St. Augustine, was an early Christian theologian and philosopher. His wise words clearly say that if you don't travel, you don't really know the world as it is. Don't be a frog in the well, come out and explore.

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”
― Lao Tzu

Lao Tzu, also known as Laozi or Lao-Tze, literally meaning "Old Master", was an ancient Chinese philosopher and writer. He is known as the reputed author of the "Tao Te Ching", which is also referred to as"Laozi".[1]

Even though scholars and historians still debate the text's true authorship and date of its composition, there is truth in the ancient wisdom. Lao Tzu might have also meant to say that every great thing has a small beginning. Whatever the original context might have been, these wise words hold true in the context of travelling.

Every journey, whether long or short, does begin with a single step, which is the first step that you take. Nowadays, the first step would typically be planning where to go, followed by initiating the booking process, unless you're a hardcore wanderer at heart.

“I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move.”
Robert Louis Stevenson

This is quoted from his book, "Travels with a Donkey in the Cévennes", which is based on a journey he went on, in 1878. It was a 12-day, 200-kilometre long solo hiking journey through the sparsely populated and impoverished areas of the Cévennes mountains in south-central France [2].

Quoting more from his book, along with the above well known lines,
“ For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move; to feel the needs and hitches of our life more nearly; to come down off this feather-bed of civilisation, and find the globe granite underfoot and strewn with cutting flints. Alas, as we get up in life, and are more preoccupied with our affairs, even a holiday is a thing that must be worked for. To hold a pack upon a pack-saddle against a gale out of the freezing north is no high industry, but it is one that serves to occupy and compose the mind. And when the present is so exacting, who can annoy himself about the future? ” [3]

Now, how many of you people haven't felt this way?

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

This is a well known quote from John Ronald Reuel Tolkien's book, The Fellowship of the Ring , and the wanderers at heart can relate with it.

Now, consider the following lines which appear before and after the quoted one above, in that poem in The Fellowship of the Ring, “All that is gold does not glitter, Not all those who wander are lost; The old that is strong does not wither, Deep roots are not reached by the frost.".

Can we use these lines for the context of ancient and historical monuments, along with deep rooted cultures as well? After all, the strong old ones still stand, and even though they don't glitter, they belong to a golden age of culture and heritage.

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I— I took the one less travelled by, And that has made all the difference.”
Robert Frost

In his poem The Road Not Taken, the poet Robert Frost might have meant it literally, or he perhaps spoke about the journey of life, but this applies well for us travellers and tourists, who want to take the road less travelled, and seek the sights less visited. Have you ever done this and gone to a place not well known, or to a place not highly sought-after?

The traveller sees what he sees. The tourist sees what he has come to see - G.K. Chesterton
“The traveller sees what he sees. The tourist sees what he has come to see.”
G.K. Chesterton

Now, isn't that true? That's the basic difference between a traveller and a tourist. A traveller travels, seeing what he sees. A tourist, on the other hand, typically sees whatever places he has come to see, be it some monuments, some mountains, nice beaches, or relax in a resort. Very insightful words by G.K Chesterton, who was an English writer, poet, philosopher, and journalist. Can we say he was "The Man Who Knew Too Much"? ;-)

“Though the road's been rocky it sure feels good to me.”
Bob Marley

Bob Marley was a Jamaican singer and songwriter. There has been several times we've hit rocky roads, full of potholes, whether they were village roads or even highways in a bad shape! But, they've always felt better than dealing with the frustrating traffic jams of the cities. Would you agree with me on this one?

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”
Marcel Proust

I don't know the original context or composition where Marcel Proust, a French novelist who is considered as one of the prominent authors of the 20th century, said this.

I interpret it in a context of travel as: It isn't seeking of new places or landscapes, but looking at things differently (having new eyes), is what matters. That's when we go on a real voyage of discovery.

It may be something small, like a squirrel, or someplace close-by, and even places which are not so well known, or aren't so sought-after. It's the way we observe, explore, and appreciate that place, which matters.

I have found out that there aint no surer way to find out whether you like people or hate them than to travel with them - Mark Twain
“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'm sure that most of you will agree, and even relate with this one. When you travel with people, especially on long overnight journeys, or tours, you'll be spending a lot of time with them and get to know them better, whether they're totally new people, or your friends or colleagues.

In Mark Twain's book, Tom Sawyer Abroad, which is a classic sequel to his books, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Huck Finn (Huckleberry Finn) narrates this, as he recollects and mourns for the people of their caravan who are deceased due to a sandstorm [4].

Okay, enough with its sad context, but the wise words hold true for any occasion where you travel with other people, either as a group of people, or some pleasant or unpleasant co-passengers.

Here's another quote from the same book, in which the character Huck Finn says the following, as he narrates the story -

“There ain't anything that is so interesting to look at as a place that a book has talked about.” ― Mark Twain

It's always interesting to actually see a place that you've read about in the books. Or nowadays, a place that you've seen on the television, on YouTube, or even read about on great travel blogs like this one ;-)

“It’s better to travel well than to arrive” ― Gautama Buddha
“The journey not the arrival matters.” ― T.S. Eliot

Several times, we've enjoyed more during the journeys, along the way, rather than after arriving at a destination. Of course, some journeys don't go so well and leave us more frustrated. But in most cases, a pleasant journey makes an arrival even better.

Even though the contexts of the above quotes may have been different, quoting them together, the great Gautama Buddha, the founder of Buddhism and T.S Eliot, who is considered as one of the major poets of the 20th century, It's better to travel well than to arrive. The journey, not the arrival, matters. However, this may not apply to very long train or air journeys, as they can be quite monotonous and boring!

“Travel is glamorous only in retrospect.” — Paul Theroux

This is true, as there are times when our travels and journeys look better in retrospect, rather than during it. There are times when the travels don't go as planned, and become boring or unpleasant, but when we come back, it looks better than the mundane day to day lives we lead.

Sometimes, people tend to speak or write about better and nicer aspects of their travels, leaving out the unpleasant ones. We try to give a full picture in our travel experiences, even though we highlight the postives.

Here's one more from Paul Theroux, an American travel writer and novelist. It's something on the lines of G.K.Chesterson's words above.

“Tourists don't know where they've been, travellers don't know where they're going.” — Paul Theroux
No need to elaborate this one, you've got the picture.

Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us, or we find it not - Ralph Waldo Emerson

I saved the best one for the last. If we do not have a beautiful mind, or soul, no matter to which beautiful place we may travel to, we will not find any beauty.

“Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us, or we find it not.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

This is quoted from the essays of Ralph Waldo Emerson, a well known American essayist, lecturer, poet and a popular philosopher.

But the following is also attributed to him, from his essays :

“I hate quotations. Tell me what you know.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Whoops! Let us stop here with the quotes, and start packing for the next journey, and write the next travel story and give you more travel tips.

Happy travelling! :-)

[1] Laozi - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy by Stanford University.
[2] Travels with a Donkey in the Cévennes and Selected Travel Writings, Oxford University Press, 1993, ISBN 0-19-282629-8
[3] Travels with a Donkey in the Cevennes by Robert Louis Stevenson on Project Gutenberg
[4] Project Gutenberg's Tom Sawyer Abroad on Project Gutenberg

Images in this article are only representations. Images in this article are from Unsplash.
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