As readers of this website no doubt have noticed, we travel a lot.
In fact, we have been away almost (not exactly) as much as we’ve been home over the last year, in part because we’ve had a good deal of freedom since Ellen has retired from her professional work. (I got a jump on retirement, when about six or seven years ago I left the school a group of us had created in the mid-70s.)
Traveling has always been important to us. For more than 50 years we have made leaving home and exploring other places a significant part of our lives.
A number of years ago we were reorganizing our library and discovered the number of books relating to travel (guides and travel literature) was growing much faster than our acquisitions of professional books (education/psychology and political/governmental). Then, a couple of years ago we have had to build new space just to contain our travel related books.
In fact, travel literature is another way to leave home without having to step outside of the house. While I prefer to travel than to read about travels, there are a number of wonderful writers that fill the gaps between trips.
All of the above is to introduce an article I stumbled across a couple of weeks ago by one of the travel writers I enjoy — Pico Iyer.
While I don’t think he exactly speaks for me in the article linked to below, he does touch on many of the aspects of traveling, on many of the reasons for traveling, with which I identify.
Perhaps one day I’ll write in more detail myself about this subject. Until then, I will just post occasional travel writing that I find of interest.
If you enjoy traveling, whether in or out of your house, check out Pico Iyer’s Why We Travel, Salon, Mar. 18, 2000.
And if you have a favorite travel writer, please let me and others know who that is and what he or she has written that has been particularly meaningful to you. Use the Comment section of this post to leave the name of an author, an article, or the title of a book about travel that you think others might enjoy.
Land Wayland said:
Boy, I didn’t know the motivations for and the reactions to travelling could be so complicated. I like to travel because it is there and not here.
The “otherness” of people does not surprise me but then I have difficulty seeing the otherness…they all look and act like people whose “otherness” is that they have come up with different ways of answering many of life’s eternal questions, just as they have come up with different ways of clothing their bodies and talking to each other, but those are only superficial differences.
They/We all have to deal with the same basic set of problems every day, and I used to travel so I could see what those answers are. Unfortunately, as the world tightens, the answers are looking more and more the same so there is less and less reason to travel to look at people.
For those who travel to look at things, those are also looking more and more the same as buildings and clothes and traffic and communications devices and food are looking the same everywhere.
Only when I travel to look at places does the diversity fascinate and I hope it will continue to do so for the next 10-15 years. This has made me appreciate America more as there are few places on earth that are not well represented in our 52 States (Puerto Rico, Marianas) and it is possible to see them and still eat a good hamburger at noon and sleep in a good bed at midnight.
Judy White said:
My favorite travel writers are ones who write of the place I’m visiting. For example we are just back from New Mexico, and both of us read Tony Hillerman books while we were there. They illuminate what we are seeing. (By the way I just learned that Tony’s daughter Anne Hillerman has picked up where Tony left off and is said to be equally talented; just got one of hers today but haven’t started it yet.)
When are you going to Cuba?
Land – There are lots of reasons to travel, and some are not obvious, even to the traveler. And as we age, some of the reasons change and some new ones arise.
Judy – I agree about enjoying (good) writers writing on the place I am going, am, or have been. Finding the right one for each place is not always easy and sometimes it’s not until I return that I discover that writer. Then, I read and realize things I’ve missed (and seen).
Cuba not on our A list.
Balkans are next, and Burma in January.
PS – We love New Mexico and go every couple of years for a week.
David P. Stang said:
I was traveling in France (visiting Beaune- and all the Burgundy wine vineyards) when you sent your inspiring travel piece. I sure do like traveling too for many of the same reasons.
Sometimes, for example every sunny day, I like to travel on my feet 120 yards from my house down to the shoreline of the Kenmare Bay and sit on my 300 million year old red sandstone seat and look down the Bay and watch the sun set over the huge McGillicutty Reeks running along the Iveragh Penninsula across the Bay.
While sitting on the seat I notice the otters swimming nearby and the Cormorants diving down from the sky to spear a fish with their beaks, then surface with a fish in their mouth and fly off with their dinner. I like to listen to the gentle lapping of the waves against rocky shore punctuated by the Cormorants’ screechy screams .
On the walk back to the house I reach into my pants and pull out a carrot I feed one bite at a time to a beautiful white Kerry Bog Pony mare grazing on my land who whinnies when she sees me and I whinny back to her so she knows I understand her and accept her as she is.
Her nine week old stallion colt is another question. I seem to spook the poor fellow. So far it seems like I’m too unhorselike for his taste. This evening I fed his beautiful mom a turnip and she spit it out. OK, I said, I won’t do that again. Then I fed her the carrot she was expecting. Sometimes when we meet she and I engage in a bonding ritual of smelling each others breath from about a two inch distance between our nostrils. If I linger too long doing this before feeding her a carrot she gently heads butts me to alert me that it’s time to get down to brass tacks.
In a nutshell, traveling on foot around my sixteen acres of woods and pasture on the shoreline of the Kenmare Bay is often more exciting than hopping a flight from Cork to Paris then taking the 200 MPH fast train to Dijon followed by a forty mile drive to Beaune where, unlike the Emerald Isle, the sun shines nearly every day.
But mind you, rain or shine back on the ranch in Kerry I feed my sweetie pie her daily ration of carrots.