Browsing Tag

Pico Iyer


The Art of Travel and Why we Travel

August 19, 2012

Why we travel, Vietnam

A few weeks ago I had a semi-argument with my mom in which she said I was addicted to Airport terminals and the act of traveling.

While I tried to explain to her that traveling is part of my job and actually part of who I am as a human being, I had to think about it more; (Jewish mothers are always right)

Am I really addicted to Airports? (well, addiction runs in the family)

Can’t I really sit still in one place and need to wander? (I was always the ‘curious cat’)

What is it in the ‘act’ of traveling that makes me happy to the point that I always want more? (I often plan my next travel before the current one really ends)

Not to mention, the urge to take pictures and look at the reality in front of me, fit into a frame.

Was it a coincidence or not, but A few days after my conversation with my mom, a friend of mine got me the book The Art of Travel’ by the philosopher Alain de Botton, and I dwelled into it. The book is not a typical Travel book that suggests its readers where to go, but it is more a philosophical one, that brings up questions of WHY we travel and WHAT do we get out of this experience. Alain de Botton keeps reminding the readers that travel is a learning experience and if we be open and use all of our senses, than we be well rewarded and so our travel experience.

…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 domestic 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…” 

The Art of Travel, Alain de Botton

As I’m still reading de Botton’s book, I came across another travel essay, that was on point with how I feel when I travel. If I ever need to justify myself in any future argument, the essay ‘Why we Travel’ by the philosopher Pico Iyer, will be a winning case.

“…We travel, initially, to lose ourselves; and we travel, next, to find ourselves. We travel to open our hearts and eyes and learn more about the world than our newspapers will accommodate. We travel to bring what little we can, in our ignorance and knowledge, to those parts of the globe whose riches are differently dispersed. And we travel, in essence, to become young fools again—to slow time down and get taken in, and fall in love once more. The beauty of this whole process was best described, perhaps, before people even took to frequent flying…”

While each of us has his own reasons to travel, here are some of mine;

Travel, Vietnam, Ho chi Minh, why we travel

Travel, Vietnam, Ho Chi minh, Why we Travel

Travel, Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh, Why we Travel

Travel, Buenos Aires, Argentina, Why we Travel

Travel, Buenos Aires, Argentina, Why we Travel

Travel, Israel, Tel Aviv, why we Travel

Travel, Tokyo, Japan, Why we Travel

Travel, Lisbon, Portugal, Why we Travel

Travel, Rome, Italy, Why we Travel

Travel, Florence, Italy, Why we Travel

Travel, Venice, Italy, Why we Travel

Travel, Florence, Italy, Why we Travel

Travel, Paris, France, Why we Travel

Travel, Paris, France, Why we Travel