70 Top Quotes From The Art of Travel

Alain de Botton's "The Art of Travel" is an enchanting and philosophical exploration of the profound impact travel has on our lives. Through a captivating blend of literature, art, history, and personal anecdotes, de Botton contemplates the motives behind our wanderlust and examines how different landscapes can evoke varying emotional responses within us. This insightful book delves into the idea that travel is not merely about reaching a destination but about discovering a new perspective, both externally and internally.

By delving into the works of artists and writers who sought inspiration through their voyages, de Botton shows us that travel can be a transformative and meditative experience, leading us to reconnect with ourselves and the world around us. Whether he is contemplating the allure of a desert or the melancholy of a rainy day, de Botton's "The Art of Travel" invites readers to embark on a reflective journey, encouraging us to appreciate the beauty of the unfamiliar and find meaning in the little moments of life that often go unnoticed. (The Art of Travel Summary).

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The Art of Travel Quotes


"It seemed an advantage to be traveling alone. Our responses to the world are crucially moulded by the company we keep, for we temper our curiosity to fit in with the expectations of others...Being closely observed by a companion can also inhibit our observation of others; then, too, we may become caught up in adjusting ourselves to the companion's questions and remarks, or feel the need to make ourselves seem more normal than is good for our curiosity.”

"The pleasure we derive from journeys is perhaps dependent more on the mindset with which we travel than on the destination we travel to.” (Meaning)

"Journeys are the midwives of thought. Few places are more conducive to internal conversations than a moving plane, ship or train. There is an almost quaint correlation between what is in front of our eyes and the thoughts we are able to have in our heads: large thoughts at times requiring large views, new thoughts new places. Introspective reflections which are liable to stall are helped along by the flow of the landscape. The mind may be reluctant to think properly when thinking is all it is supposed to do."

At the end of hours of train-dreaming, we may feel we have been returned to ourselves - that is, brought back into contact with emotions and ideas of importance to us. It is not necessarily at home that we best encounter our true selves. The furniture insists that we cannot change because it does not; the domestice setting keeps us tethered to the person we are in ordinary life, but who may not be who we essentially are.

If we find poetry in the service station and motel, if we are drawn to the airport or train carriage, it is perhaps because, in spite of their architectural compromises and discomforts, in spite of their garish colours and harsh lighting, we implicitly feel that these isolated places offer us a material setting for an alternative to the selfish ease, the habits and confinement of the ordinary, rooted world.”

"It is perhaps sad books that best console us when we are sad, and to lonely service stations that we should drive when there is no one for us to hold or love.”

"The sole cause of a man's unhappiness is that he does not know how to stay quietly in his room.”

"A dominant impulse on encountering beauty is to wish to hold on to it, to possess it and give it weight in one’s life. There is an urge to say, ‘I was here, I saw this and it mattered to me.”

"See how small your are next to the mountains. Accept what is bigger that you and what you do not understand. The world may appear illogical to you, but it does not follow that it is illogical per se. Our life is not the measure of all things: consider sublime places a reminder of human insignificance and frailty.”

"A danger of travel is that we see things at the wrong time, before we have had a chance to build up the necessary receptivity and when new information is therefore as useless and fugitive as necklace beads without a connecting chain.”

"It is not necessarily at home that we best encounter our true selves. The furniture insists that we cannot change because it does not; the domestic setting keeps us tethered to the person we are in ordinary life, who may not be who we essentially are.”

"If it is true that love is the pursuit in another of qualities we lack in ourselves, then in our love of someone from another culture, one ambition may be to weld ourselves more closely to values missing from our own culture.”

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"There is psychological pleasure in this takeoff, too, for the swiftness of the plane’s ascent is an exemplary symbol of transformation. The display of power can inspire us to imagine analogous, decisive shifts in our own lives, to imagine that we, too, might one day surge above much that now looms over us.” P. 38-39”

"Journeys are the midwives of thought. Few places are more conducive to internal conversations than moving planes, ships or trains.”

"It seemed an advantage to be traveling alone. Our responses to the world are crucially moulded by whom we are with, we temper our curiosity to fit in with the expectations of others...Being closely observed by a companion can inhibit us from observing others; we become taken up with adjusting ourselves to the companion's questions and remarks, we have to make ourselves seem more normal than is good for our curiosity.”

"What we find exotic abroad may be what we hunger for in vain at home.”

"Instead of bringing back 1600 plants, we might return from our journeys with a collection of small unfêted but life-enhancing thoughts.”

"The destination was not really the point. The true desire was to get away—to go, as he concluded, ‘anywhere! anywhere! so long as it is out of the world!”

"We may value foreign elements not only because they are new but because they seem to accord more faithfully with our identity and commitments than anything our homeland can provide.”

"And I wondered, with mounting anxiety, What am I supposed to do here? What am I supposed to think?”

"We are inundated with advice on where to travel to, but we hear little of why and how we should go, even though the art of travel seems naturally to sustain a number of questions neither so simple nor so trivial, and whose study might in modest ways contribute to an understanding of what the Greek philosophers beautifully termed eudaimonia, or ‘human flourishing’.”

"If we find poetry in the service station and motel, if we are drawn to the airport or train carriage, it is perhaps because, in spite of their architectural compromises and discomforts, in spite of their garish colours and harsh lighting, we implicitly feel that these isolated places offer us a material setting for an alternative to the selfish ease, the habits and confinement of the ordinary, rooted world.”

"The twenty-four-hour diner, the station waiting room and the motel are sanctuaries for those who have, for noble reasons, failed to find a home in the ordinary world, sanctuaries for those whom Baudelaire might have dignified with the honorific 'poets'.”

"Try, before taking off for distant hemispheres to notice what we have already seen.”

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"The study of maps and the perusal of travel books aroused in me a secret fascination that was at times almost irresistible.”

"We can see beauty well enough just by opening our eyes, but how long this beauty will survive in memory depends on how intentionally we have apprehended it.”

"If the world seems unfair or beyond our understanding, sublime places suggest that it is not surprising that things should be thus. We are the playthings of the forces that laid out the oceans and chiselled the mountains.”

"Ruskin’s interest in beauty and in its possession led him to five central conclusions. First, beauty was the result of a number of complex factors that affected the mind both psychologically and visually. Second, humans had an innate tendency to respond to beauty and to desire to possess it. Third, there were many lower expressions of this desire for possession (including, as we have seen, buying souvenirs and carpets, carving one’s name on a pillar and taking photographs). Fourth, there was only one way to possess beauty properly, and that was by understanding it, by making oneself conscious of the factors (psychological and visual) responsible for it. And last, the most effective means of pursuing this conscious understanding was by attempting to describe beautiful places through art, by writing about or drawing them, irrespective of whether one happened to have any talent for doing so.”

"Why be seduced by something as small as a front door in another country? Why fall in love with a place because it has trams and its people seldom have curtains in their homes? However absurd the intense reactions provoked by such small (and mute) foreign elements may seem, the pattern is at least familiar from our personal lives. There, too, we may find ourselves anchoring emotions of love on the way a person butters his or her bread, or recoiling at his or her taste in shoes. To condemn ourselves for these minute concerns is to ignore how rich in meaning details may be.”

"Valuable elements may be easier to experience in art and in anticipation than in reality. The anticipatory and artistic imaginations omit and compress, they cut away the periods of boredom and direct our attention to critical moments and, without either lying or embellishing, thus lend to life a vividness and a coherence that it may lack in the distracting woolliness of the present.”

"A danger of travel is that we may see things at the wrong time, before we have had an opportunity to build up the necessary receptivity, so that new information is as useless and fugitive as necklace beads without a connecting chain.”

"A momentous but until then overlooked fact was making itself apparent: I had inadvertently brought myself with me to the island. It”

"It was as if a vital evolutionary advantage had been bestowed centuries ago on those members of the species who lived in a state of concern about what was to happen next. These ancestors might have failed to savour their experiences appropriately, but they had at least survived and shaped the character of their descendants, while their more focused siblings, at one with the moment and with the place where they stood, had met violent ends on the horns of unforeseen bison.”

"If we are inclined to forget how much there is in the world besides that which we anticipate, then works of art are perhaps a little to blame, for in them we find the same process of simplification or selection at work as in the imagination.”

"A man is born an artist as a hippopotamus is born a hippopotamus; and you can no more make yourself one than you can make yourself a giraffe.”

"It seemed an advantage to be travelling alone. Our responses to the world are crucially moulded by whom we are with, we temper our curiosity to fit in with the expectations of others.”

"Journeys are the midwives of thought. Few places are more conducive to internal conversations than moving planes, ships or trains. There is an almost quaint correlation between what is before our eyes and the thoughts we are able to have in our heads: large thoughts at times requiring large views, and new thoughts, new places. Introspective reflections that might otherwise be liable to stall are helped along by the flow of the landscape.”

"Our capacity to draw happiness from aesthetic objects or material goods in fact seems critically dependent on our first satisfying a more important range of emotional or psychological needs, among them the need for understanding, for love, expression and respect.”

"I believe that the sight is more important thing that the drawing; and i would rather teach drawing that my pupils may learn to love nature, that teach looking at nature that they may learn to draw.”

"If our lives are dominated by a search for happiness, then perhaps few activities reveal as much about the dynamics of this quest – in all its ardour and paradoxes – than our travels.”

"I was to look around me as though I had never been in this place before. And slowly, my travels began to bear fruit.”

"Introspective reflections that might otherwise be liable to stall are helped along by the flow of the landscape...”

"Of all modes of transport, the train is perhaps the best aid to thought. The views have none of the potential monotony of those on a ship or a plane, moving quickly enough for us not to get exasperated but slowly enough to allow us to identify objects. They offer us brief, inspiring glimpses into private domains, letting us see a woman at the precise moment when she takes a cup from a shelf in her kitchen, then carrying us on to a patio where a man is sleeping and then to a park where a child is catching a ball thrown by a figure we cannot see.”

"The longing provoked by the brochure was an example , at once touching and pathetic, of how projects (and even whole lives) might be influenced by the simplest and most unexamined images of happiness; of how a lengthy and ruinously expensive journey might be set in motion by nothing more than the sigh of a photograph of a palm tree gently inclining in a tropical breeze. I resolved to travel to the island of Barbados.”

"Hopper invites us to feel empathy with the woman in her isolation. She seems dignified and generous, only perhaps a little too trusting, a little naive—as if she has knocked against a hard corner of the world. Hopper puts us on her side, the side of the outsider against the insiders. The figures in Hopper's art are not opponents of home per se; it is simply that in a variety of undefined ways, home appears to have betrayed them, forcing them out into the night or onto the road.”

"Journeys are the midwives of thought. Few places are more conducive to internal conversations than a moving plane, ship or train.”

"Journeys are the midwives of thought”

"Any sadness I might have felt, any suspicion that happiness or understanding was unattainable, seemed to find ready encouragement in the sodden dark-red brick buildings and low skies tinged orange by the city's streetlights.”

"If our lives are dominated by a search for happiness, then perhaps few activities reveal as much about the dynamics of this quest - in all its ardur and paradoxes - than our travels. They express, however inarticulately, an understanding of what life might be about, outside the constraints of work and of the struggle for survival.”

"You ask whether the Orient is all I imagined it to be. Yes, it is—and more than that, it extends far beyond the narrow idea I had of it. I have found, clearly delineated, everything that was hazy in my mind."

"If the world seems unfair or beyond our understanding, sublime places suggest that it is not surprising that things should be thus. We are the playthings of the forces that laid out the oceans and chiselled the mountains."

"The imagination could provide a more-than-adequate substitute for the vulgar reality of actual experience’.”

"The constant calls of the screens, some accompanied by the impatient pulsing of a cursor, suggest with what ease our seemingly entrenched lives might be altered were we simply to walk down a corridor and onto a craft that in a few hours would land us in a place of which we had no memories and where no one knew our name.”

"In roadside diners and late-night cafeterias, hotel lobbies and station cafés, we may dilute our feeling of isolation in a lonely public place and hence rediscover a distinctive sense of community.”

"We are humiliated by what is powerful and mean, but awed by what is powerful and noble.”

"What ease our seemingly entrenched lives might be altered were we simply to walk down a corridor and onto a craft that in a few hours would land us in a place of which we had no memories and where no one knew our name.”

"I am the soul brother to everything that lives, to the giraffe and to the crocodile as much as to man.”

"Love is the pursuit in another of qualities we lack in ourselves, then in our love of someone from another country, one ambition may be to weld ourselves more closely to values missing from our own culture.”

"Our lives are not the measure of all things: consider sublime places for a reminder of human insignificance and frailty.”

"Art cannot single-handedly create enthusiasm, nor does it arise from sentiments of which nonartists are devoid; it merely contributes to enthusiasm and guides us to be more conscious of feelings that we might previously have experienced only tentatively or hurriedly.”

"If our lives are dominated by a search for happiness, then perhaps few activities reveal as much about the dynamics of this quest—in all its ardour and paradoxes—than our travels.”

"Do not be surprised that things have not gone your way, he declares: the universe is greater than you. Do not be surprised that you do not understand why they have not gone your way, for you cannot fathom the logic of the universe. See how small you are next to the mountains. Accept what is bigger than you and what you do not understand. The world may appear illogical to you, but it does not follow that it is illogical per se. Our lives are not the measure of all things: consider sublime places for a reminder of human insignificance and frailty.”

"A few moments in the countryside overlooking a valley could number among the most significant and useful of one's life, and be as worthy of precise remembrance as a birthday or a wedding.”

― Quotes from the book The Art of Travel by Alain de Botton

The Art of Travel Author

Alain de Botton is a renowned philosopher, writer, and public intellectual known for his insightful and thought-provoking explorations of modern life and human emotions. Through books like "The Consolations of Philosophy" and "The Art of Travel," de Botton offers a fresh perspective on timeless philosophical ideas, making them relevant and applicable to contemporary challenges. His writing style is engaging and relatable, blending philosophical concepts with everyday experiences to help readers navigate the complexities of existence. De Botton's work delves into themes such as love, relationships, work, and status, inviting readers to examine their assumptions and find deeper meaning in ordinary aspects of life. By addressing the human condition with empathy and wit, Alain de Botton encourages readers to embrace philosophy as a tool for self-reflection, personal growth, and a more fulfilling existence.

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Chief Editor

Tal Gur is an author, founder, and impact-driven entrepreneur at heart. After trading his daily grind for a life of his own daring design, he spent a decade pursuing 100 major life goals around the globe. His journey and most recent book, The Art of Fully Living, has led him to found Elevate Society.

 
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