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Review: The Art of Travel by Alain de Botton

The Art of Travel
The Art of Travel by Alain de Botton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Wow, what a thought provoking book! For someone who has a ferocious appetite to travel (and does both personally and for work) it gave me a fresh perspective on how one should go about traveling and experiencing the world. This is a story of de Botton’s experiences intertwined with stories from some of the greats of our history (e.g. Pascal, Neitzsche, Baudelaire etc.). It literally takes you on a journey from the anticipation of travel all the way through to the return to your home and life.

I normally would read this book quite quickly however throughout there were sections that made me stop and reflect on my own travel experiences. At each page turn my values and approaches to travel was challenged and critiqued and I loved it!

Three key takeaways from the book:
1. I’m torn between Pascal’s perspective of truly enjoying and taking in a historical artifact (or art) versus being an artist where you take in what you see and then create something unique and creative that enhances the experience for you and for others. I believe that there is room for both depending on the situation. Such as life today where people photograph and video things versus stopping to just enjoy the experience.
2. We want to be happy in our lives and travel seems to provide us with a mechanism to do that. The problem is that we only experience this happiness while traveling because we are outside of the constraints of work and our struggle to survive
3. De Botton advocates travelling alone to be an advantage. He believes that responses to the world are molded by the company that we keep, therefore we align our curiosity to fit in with the expectations of others.

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4 Responses to :
Review: The Art of Travel by Alain de Botton

  1. Mat Shohet says:

    Sounds like a book I need to read! In regards to your second point, I think happiness is a relatively modern concept/mindset and is not something that can ever be permanently achieved. Humans just aren’t programmed that way. It’s like we have some built in reasoning to stop us from settling and getting complacent. It’s what drives us to always search for the next best thing in life.

    And on point 3 as the old saying goes. If you want to travel fast go alone, if you want to travel far go together. πŸ™‚

  2. brevell says:

    Agree, if we are making progress (e.g. constantly traveling, experiencing and/or learning) then that will provide in some ways that consistent happiness. Like your last point, so true. You, me and our Ts have gone far with our respective travels. I am however getting more interested in doing small trips alone to reflect, learn and grow.

    1. MatMan says:

      Get yourself another motorcycle and do short trips around Europe!! πŸ™‚

      1. brevell says:

        You’ll have to help me convince the other half when you’re in town next year πŸ˜‰

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