THE pleasure of travel is in this answer of the whole earth, potentially, to our steps, so that every good journey must have in it some measures of exploration, and, if possible, an effort of our own. There is no need to go far; a John Gilpin day is enough: imagination only is needed – and an awareness of the horizon rim beyond which the world is new.
DISTANCE changes utterly when you take the world on foot. A mile becomes a long way, two miles literally considerable, ten miles whopping, fifty miles at the very limits of conception. The world, you realize, is enormous in a way that only you and a small community of fellow hikers know. Planetary scale is your little secret.
Freya Stark on storing travel experiences to enjoy in the future like a good wine:
ABOVE all is enjoyment with no utilitarian objective, which it is the main business of both travel and education to increase as they can. Good days are to be gathered like sunshine in grapes, to be trodden and bottled into wine and kept for age to sip at ease beside his fire. If the traveller has vintaged well he need trouble to wander no longer; the ruby moments glow in his glass at will. He can still feel the spring in his step, and the wind on his face, though he sit in shelter: unless perhaps the sight of a long road winding, or the singing of the telegraph wires, or the wild duck in their wedges, or horses’ hooves that clatter into distance, or the wayside stream – all with their many voices persuade him to try just one more journey before the pleasant world comes to an end.
Posted on 12 June 2016
Freya Stark on travel in the mind’s eye, imagination and the spur to make physical journeys:
PERHAPS the fairest journeys have been made by those who never left their houses. Yet the mind needs to be allured, and to dress its thoughts in some shreds of the garment of earth. Our longing to travel is perhaps an admission of insufficiency, a need for stimulus places, and people, and all the unexpected for a spur to the mind’s journeys.
Freya Stark, Perseus in the Wind (1948)
Posted on 4 June 2016
Gertrude Bell on whether we truly are all wanderers at heart:
EVERY man, says a philosopher, is a wanderer at heart. Alas! I fear the axiom would be truer if he had confined himself to stating that every man loves to fancy himself a wanderer, for when it comes to the point there is not one in a who can throw off the ties of civilized existence the ties and the comforts of habits which have become easy to him by long use, of the life whose security is ample compensation for its monotony. Yet there are moments when the cabined spirit longs for liberty.
Gertrude Bell, Persian Pictures (1892)
Posted on 8 May 2016
Laurie Lee on the satisfying feeling of time stretching before you at the start of a trip:
Never in my life had I felt so fat with time, so free of the need to be moving or doing.
THE cyclist, on the other hand, is sufficiently invisible to achieve what the pedestrian cannot: travelling in solitude and abandoning himself to the sweet flow of his thoughts…Skimming along on two wheels, the rider finds just the right pace for observing the city and being at once its accomplice and its witness.
Marcel Proust on the special attraction of the journey:
THE special attraction of the journey lies not in our being able to alight at places on the way and to stop altogether as soon as we grow tired, but in its making the difference between departure and arrival not as imperceptible but as intense as possible, so that we are conscious of it in its totality, intact, as it existed in our mind when imagination bore us from the place in which we were living right to the very heart of a place we longed to see.
Valeria Luiselli on the cinematic joy of cycling:
THE difference between flying in an airplane, walking and riding a bicycle is the same as that between looking through a telescope, a microscope and a movie camera. Each allows for a particular way of seeing. From an airplane, the world is a distant representation of itself. On two legs, we are condemned to a plethora of microscopic detail. But the person suspended over two wheels, a meter above the ground, can see things as if through the lens of a movie camera: he can linger on minutiae and choose to pass over what is unnecessary.
Emily Hahn on the desire to break free from routine and 9 to 5 office work:
IT was awful to think of everybody in that big place getting up at the same time every morning, taking the same bus or streetcar to work, doing the same things every day at the office. Where in the world were people who did things simply because they wanted to—because they were interested? Did no one ever strike out along new paths?
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.
I sometimes think that everything is fiction and that travel is something that happens in your head.
Unless there is a strong sense of place, there is no travel writing, but it need not come from topographical description; dialogue can also convey a sense of place. Even so, I insist, the traveler invents the place. Feeling compelled to comment on my travel books, people say to me, “I went there” – China, India, the Pacific, Albania – “and it wasn’t like that.” I say, “Because I am not you.
Mark Twain on how travel can make you a ‘consummate ass’:
WE wish to learn all the curious, outlandish ways of all the different countries, so that we can “show off” and astonish people when we get home. We wish to excite the envy of our untraveled friends with our strange foreign fashions which we can’t shake off.
Sound advice on what to pack for the business traveller:
The business traveler should bring only what fits in a carry-on bag. Checking your luggage is asking for trouble…There are very few necessities in this world which do not come in travel-size packets…Always bring a book as protection against strangers. Magazines don’t last, and newspapers from elsewhere remind you you don’t belong. But don’t take more than one book. It is a common mistake to overestimate one’s potential free time, and consequently over-pack. In travel, as in most of life, less is invariably more. And most importantly, never take along anything on your journey so valuable or dear that its loss would devastate you.
Jan Morris on unreality, sham-ness and tourism:
IF it is true about the decline and fall of reality, then its chief agency is tourism. Tourism encourages unreality. It’s easier in the tourist context to be unreal than real. It’s the easiest thing in the world to buy a funny old Welsh hat and pop it on and sit outside selling rock in some bogus tavern. It’s much easier than being real, contemporary. Tourism encourages and abets this sham-ness wherever it touches. I detest it.
Posted on 10 April 2016
Gertrude Bell wondering about the aim of travel:
ALL the earth is seamed with roads, and all the sea is furrowed with the tracks of ships, and over all the roads and all the waters a continuous stream of people passes up and down travelling, as they say, for their pleasure. What is it, I wonder, that they go out for to see?
Posted on 8 April 2016
Graham Greene, again, on travel as emotional satisfaction and its elusive nature, or how travel is like cheese:
TRAVEL, like dreaming, is a form of emotional satisfaction, and though you may explain the act of dreaming by the cheese eaten at dinner, you cannot explain so easily the particular images which formed the dream.
Graham Greene, Analysis of a Journey (1935)
Posted on 2 April 2016
Graham Greene on the choice of books to take when travelling:
WHAT books to take on a journey? It is an interesting – and important – problem. In West Africa once I had made the mistake of taking the Anatomy of Melancholy, with the idea that it would, as it were, match the mood. It matched all right, but what one really needs is contrast.
Graham Greene, The Lawless Roads (1939)
Posted on 2 April 2016
On how travel is still possible, even though it may seem as though much of the world has already been discovered:
ABROAD is not so abroad as it used to be, but now that the categories of travel are dissolving, we can see all the better how marvellously mixed is mankind itself, how overwhelmingly the interest of travel lies in the particular rather than the general, in what you do rather than where you are.
Jan Morris, Home and Away (1964)
On the downside of travelling too far, too fast:
GOING round the world too quickly is like attending a series of dinner parties and leaving with the soup.
Ian Fleming, Thrilling Cities (1963)
On the joy of planning and making mental journeys; what Emily Hahn referred to as “innumerable soothing looks at the atlas”:
HE had only to see a map to begin studying it passionately, and then, often as not, he would begin to plan some new, impossible trip which sometimes eventually became a reality.
Paul Bowles, The Sheltering Sky (1949)