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.