Philosophy and Travel

Why travel?

The world which we inhabit is stressful, fast-paced and mundane. We find ourselves slipping seamlessly into a routine with little protection against the repetition of daily life. If, like me, you live in the United Kingdom, you’ll find that you see more grey skies than blue and the call for shorts and tank tops is rare. That’s enough of a reason to travel: simply to see the sun.

But it can be more than that.

It doesn’t take long for the grey skies to attack your soul and darken your spirit and sun, sea and sand are a great cure; however, if we cast our minds back a couple of thousand years when some of the greatest philosophical minds to grace the Earth with their presence did their work in Greece we can truly grasp why travel is food for the mind, spirit and soul.

Euripides stated ‘experience, travel – these are experiences in themselves’. I am a self-confessed bibliophile, but there are things you simply cannot learn by just reading. Give me an hour with a book on Italy and I can tell you all sorts of facts and figures, but will that teach me the geography of pasta? How different parts of the country taste, smell, feel? It cannot! To enable us to develop as humans we need to seek out as many different and diverse experiences as possible; we need to surround ourselves with culture, people and languages that are not our own. If you wish, truly, to become educated then you must seek travel. International or local, both will contribute to continuing self-improvement and self-development.

Philosophy is something that, of course, does not belong only to the ancient Greeks. Latin philosopher, Augustine of Hippo, stated ‘the world is a book and those that do not travel read only one page.’ We must go forth and travel, seek out new experiences to truly delve within to the depths of the world. It’s ever changing, faster than ever. The differences between each continent, each country even, are becoming more distinct and yet many countries are becoming increasingly diverse as the notion of belonging just to one small grid square of a map is discarded.

Amelia Earhart, one of history’s most notable adventurers, said: ‘Adventure is worthwhile in itself’. Sure, adventure can be a right old ball-ache, all the schedules and transport delays, but do you ever look back on a trip and say: ‘it was all a waste of time, we should have stayed at home?’ I didn’t think so. There is something to gain, something to be learned from every trip that you take. It was a train delay that taught me that I could cope in that situation if it happened again. Treat even the small things as an adventure, and you will begin to learn so much about yourself that you’ll wonder why you never pursued this before.

Finally, what writer could spring to mind more than any when encouraging people to go forth and travel?

Lao Tzu: ‘The journey of a thousand miles begins with a simple step’.



What are some of your favourite travel quotations? Let me know in the comments!




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