9 travel quotes that remind us why we travel

In these days of social media, famous travel quotes seem to be everywhere. But if you keep an eye on them, a lot of them are the same old ones over and over again, and I think they stop being meaningful then. But looking at amazing words that writers, philosophers and more have written about travel is still something really worth doing – they’re a jumping off point to think more about what travel means to us, why we should keep doing it and what we learn from it.

Celebrating Not A Ballerina’s birthday with a month of travel quotes

As part of the big Not A Ballerina’s tenth birthday celebrations, the month of January is all about amazing words and on the Not A Ballerina Facebook page I’ve been sharing some lesser-known but still gorgeous travel quotes.

Travel quotes for Not A Ballerina birthday

I’ve loved finding a bunch of special quotes about travel and then chatting about what their message is, and it’s been so great to have everyone interacting on Facebook, but to keep the best ones somewhere more permanent than the Facebook news feed, I thought I’d choose my favourites for this post.

Clifton Fadiman on feeling comfortable abroad

This quote from American author Clifton Fadiman struck a chord not just with me, but with a lot of you, too. Although I’m not that keen on getting into the whole traveller versus tourist debate (it can get ugly), I think this is the key to that distinction.

Travel Quote by Clifton Fadiman

I don’t want a country to make me feel comfortable. I’ve even written about how, when I moved to Germany, it seemed too similar to home! But I have certainly come across travellers who are offended when a country is too different, and not comfortable for them.

A classic example: I was outside a hostel in Krakow, Poland, listening to a group of fellow backpackers discuss their options for breakfast. I was waiting for my boyfriend and we were heading off to an amazing little cafe we’d found the day before that had ultra-delicious pancakes – in my opinion, the Poles really know how to do breakfast! But these people were complaining that, when they’d been to a certain fast food franchise the day before for breakfast, they hadn’t had all the same breakfast items on the menu that they were used to at home, and it just wasn’t good enough. Ouch.

Raquel Cepeda on spending money on travel

This quote from journalist Raquel Cepeda sums up my attitude to shopping and travel all in one quick phrase – I do have friends who don’t understand why I don’t love shopping, but I would rather spend that money on travelling any day of the week!

Travel Quote Raquel Cepeda

If I ever dared to add up all the money I have spent on travelling over the years, I would probably be utterly horrified, but would I swap that for anything? No way! I have a comfortable life and I’m pretty sure on my death bed I won’t be wishing I had owned a fancier car or house – no way, I’ll be reminiscing about all the amazing places I’ve been instead.

Henry Miller on a new way of seeing things

Author Henry Miller took the “it’s the journey, not the destination” thinking and twisted it: it is the destination, but it’s not the monuments and churches and canyons, but how you see them and what you learn from seeing them.

Travel Quote Henry Miller

What I especially love about travelling is you can never quite tell in advance what your “new way of seeing things” is going to be. The guide book might tell you what you’ll physically find at your destination, but it can’t tell you the rest and that’s part of the adventure.

Jon Ronson on panicking!

Welsh journalist Jon Ronson definitely amused me with this quote, mostly because I have done exactly the same! Anyone who travels for any length of time is bound to come across these panicky moments. And they nearly all turn out to be pretty unnecessary because basically if you survive them everything is OK!

Travel Quote Jon Ronson

The beauty of panicking and freaking out around the world is that you usually get good stories out of it. Like the time I found a mysterious white powder in the ceiling of my hotel room in Taipei. There was rather a lot of panicking that night – but it turned out to be unnecessary. Got a good story, though!

Elizabeth Benedict on fear while we travel

Oh my goodness. Fear and travel. I’ve written about being afraid to travel and getting anxious before I travel and I have several more posts sitting in drafts that I’m trying to get unafraid enough to finish and publish.

Travel Quote Elizabeth Benedict

But the wise author Elizabeth Benedict is spot on with this quote. Fear is the important part of travelling. It’s what breaks down our usual attitudes to life, our normal way of doing things, our “stuck” way of being, and makes us actually learn something. Here’s to fear!

James Moloney on going back to the same destination

Australian children’s author James Moloney has hit the nail on the head here. The idea of returning year after year to the same destination fills me with dread. As I prepared for my first trip to Bali, I spoke to people who had been to Bali ten times, twenty times, even forty times. Some of them went to different resorts each time, but still, I did worry that they might be missing out on other equally enjoyable (hey, perhaps even MORE enjoyable) parts of the world.

Travel Quote James Moloney

But I guess going back to the same place is all about relaxing, doing something familiar, and not about travelling and exploring, and there is probably a time and place for both – it’s just that I’m not very good at going back to the same place. I’d rather spend that time and money going somewhere new.

Bill Bryson on childlike wonder

Bill Bryson doesn’t exactly fall under my “lesser known” category but I loved this quote too much to leave it out. (Random sidenote: one time when I ran my travel writing course, the third and final evening of the course happened to clash with Bill Bryson doing a talk here in Perth. I lost several students to him that night. But not all!)

Travel Quote Bill Bryson

This “sense of childlike wonder” is the most glorious part of travel, I think. It reminds me most strongly of when I lived in Japan, and even after months there – or perhaps, especially after months there, when I was getting out and about with fewer ex-pats and more locals – I felt exactly like a helpless child, relying on my Japanese friends to help me order food, know when to take my shoes off, what to say and pretty much everything. But this helpless feeling was definitely not a bad thing, it was fantastic, and I loved learning so much about such a different culture.

Sherwood Anderson on people-watching

Back in the early 1900s when Sherwood Anderson was being published, I don’t think “people-watching” was a phrase, but he was onto it anyway.

Travel Quote Sherwood Anderson

There is nothing I like more than going to a foreign place and sitting down and watching people. I know some people don’t like sitting in a restaurant by themselves; I love it. In fact, even when my husband and I go out to eat in a foreign place together, we might as well be alone because we both love eavesdropping on others, watching the locals do what they do, and generally sticky-beaking – we compare notes later. Love it.

Maya Angelou on becoming friends

This is saving the best for last. The incomparable Maya Angelou puts this so perfectly, and I agree so wholeheartedly.

Travel Quote  Maya Angelou

It would be nice if travel could indeed prevent bigotry, and she may be right that it can’t, but it sure can help people understand other nationalities, cultures, customs and religions, and the more we understand each other, the more peaceful the world can be. The more I travel, the more I appreciate that deep down we are all the same, and I would love everybody to learn this same lesson.

Your favourite travel quotes

Do you have some amazing words to share? Let me know in the comments – or just let me know which of my favourite quotes you like the best. It’s been so fun to share them.

 

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