I have a new bucket list item. Someday, someone, anyone, anywhere will pay me to be a travel writer. As long as it is in English, I really do not care if the assignment is to report on the mating habits of Fiji islanders, or to cover the efforts of the DOD to clean up Christmas Island after 4 decades of thermo-nuclear target practice. I might insist on Business class for the latter, but I would go.
It seems fitting that I have this goal. My favorite place to write is in airport coffee shops or aboard an airliner somewhere between tedium and delirium. I love to write in anticipation of what I might see, or in reaction to it.
Maybe Elizabeth drew has the best warning for people like me.
“Too often travel, instead of broadening the mind, merely lengthens the conversation.”
I choose to write about my travels because I choose not to bore people in person. If you are reading this, heck , you do not have to worry about insulting me. You can just vote with your mouse, and shut me down. In person you might be reticent to turn your back, walk away and mumble “what a putz.”
Still here? Ok let’s see how long I can keep your attention. Take your hand off that mouse.
There are many famous, funny and sometimes poignant quotes about travel. I’ll pop a few in here and add my observation as to their validity and/or value.
The first that comes to mind is “Wherever you go, there you are.” – Buckaroo Banzai
That is actually a piece of Buddhist philosophy intended to suggest that inner peace is the key to happiness and fulfillment. I’ll buy that, but I would rather have a boarding pass in my hands. To me it also means that I carry a lot of preconceived notions about the way “it” ought to be. As much as I make an effort to shed this baggage, it is still there. Smiling acceptance of anything unusual, from a culture that drives on the wrong side of the road to a sub-par French fry at a 3rd world McDonalds, is a hollow effort to outwardly project “I’m cool with that.”
The next quote is by a guy who could not help but be funny “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.” –Yogi Berra
This is a very valid and very simple observation. I mean, what else are you going to do, debate with yourself? You could be making the right decision, or not. But only travelling down that road will reveal the secret. The last time I choose the wrong fork was at a dinner part where I embarrassed my much more sophisticated wife…but I digress. Actually I made a decision to see Mexico by bus instead of fly over it a few years back. Talk about the wrong fork. The bus was hijacked, we were all robbed, and yes there was gunfire. My cordite scented memories of Mexico remind me that the wrong fork can lead to more than being embarrassed while ingesting a shrimp salad. But hell, I’m still here aint I?
Now a word from the hippy-dippy weatherman. “Kilometers are shorter than miles. Save gas, take your next trip in kilometers.– George Carlin
Examined in a way I am sure Carlin did not intend, this is a call to get away from the normal, the proximity to the mundane. When things are measured differently than you are used to, yes, you are now travelling. But remember, people who drive kilometers instead of miles are usually doing it on the wrong side of the road.
The next is by a Pulitzer prize winning author famous for his self-critical prose. I pride myself on self critical prose, but pining for a Pulitzer is well beyond my wildest delusion. “The worst thing about being a tourist is having other tourists recognize you as a tourist.” – Russell Baker
OMIGAWD, that is SOOOO true. One of the worst things that can happen while I putter around a foreign location trying to look like Peter Lorrie is to have another American ask “Wheah ya fruhm bud?” I find myself inspecting myself looking for what tipped him off, before I come to the realization that there are not many 6’1” locals in Nepal buying sixties era love beads.
“If you are going through hell, keep going.” – Winston Churchill
I do not know where in the volumes of Chuchill’s writings this quote appears. I do not even know if it applied to travelling. But it does for me. In my much simpler lexicon, it means “if where you are sucks, get on down the road.”
“When preparing to travel, lay out all your clothes and all your money. Then take half the clothes and twice the money”. – Unknown
Yes, I agree with Mr. Unknown. You can always get laundry done. Travel light and treat yourself to the occasional great meal.
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.” – Mark Twain.
Yes it is. I have found that when dealing with people of other cultures and religions, I find more in common with them than I ever thought possible.
“There are no foreign lands. It is the traveler only who is foreign.” – Robert Louis Stevenson
Yes again. It is the Stranger in a Strange Land idea. Deal with it.
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain
Oh Mr. Twain. If only the entire world could do that. And yes, I do not want to lie on my deathbed wishing I had finished my bucket list
“If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay at home.” – James Michener
This one is for people who watch Fox News.
“The journey not the arrival matters.” – T. S. Eliot
Well, this sounds great, but sometimes I must disagree, especially twelve hours into a flight with crying babies onboard. I just want to get there, now.
“The first condition of understanding a foreign country is to smell it.” – Rudyard Kipling
This from a man who spent a lot of time in India. Take him at his word.
“When you travel, remember that a foreign country is not designed to make you comfortable. It is designed to make its own people comfortable.” – Clifton Fadiman
Yes, but sometimes you find yourself wondering ”Who designed THIS place?”
“Most of my treasured memories of travel are recollections of sitting.” – Robert Thomas Allen
Oh yeah, oh yeah. Sit someplace and stare at the scenery, or people watch. In the right place you can do it for hours, while your mind “travels” in glory.
I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list.” – Susan Sontag
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Tags: Buckaroo Bonzai, Clifton Fadiman, Elizabeth Drew, George Carlin, James Michener, Mark Twain, Robert Louis Stevenson, Robert Thomas Allan, Rudyard Kipling, Susan Sontag, T.S. Eliot, Travel, Travel Quotes, Travel quotes, Winston Churchill, Yogi Berra