30 insightful quotes about traveling
To start the new year on the right foot, I am sharing with you my favorite travel quotes. They’re not just any quotes, but a collection of 30 inspirational and insightful quotes about traveling. Most of them are from famous novelists or from travel writers, who point out some things to keep an eye out for on our trips in order to make the best of them.
A motive in many of the insightful quotes about traveling I gathered here is how travel shifts the way we think for the better. It changes not only the way we see the rest of the world but also ourselves.
So keep reading if you wish to see traveling in a new light.
My selection of insightful quotes about traveling:
1. Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.
Our first insightful quote about traveling comes from the famous French novelist Gustave Flaubert. Feeling small in front of high mountains, acres of forests with tall trees or the vast sea ahead is one of the most overwhelming and beautiful feelings for a traveler. It humbles one into realizing not only how little space they occupy, but also how many others there are out there. Other places, other people, other beliefs, other experiences different from their own. All of them waiting to be discovered. And while this overwhelming feeling does make one modest, it also feels the traveler with hope and excitement.
2. You don’t have to be rich to travel well.
The Hungarian-American travel writer Eugene Fodor gives hope to us all through his insightful quote about traveling! I truly believe that traveling can be done by everyone, no matter their finances. Maybe you spend more time saving, maybe you think twice before buying something that doesn’t satisfy your basic needs, or maybe you just decide to travel to a more affordable destination. Or you get very good at planning and you hunt for deals to find a great travel destination that you turn into one affordable for you, as well. No matter your approach, if you make traveling a priority, you will find a way that works for you to explore the world.
3. Travel is never a matter of money but of courage.
The Brazilian lyricist and novelist Paulo Coelho de Souza makes a good point in this insightful quote about traveling. There are people who decide to go traveling with just their clothes on their back and very little money on themselves. They camp in the middle of nowhere or depend on others for shelter, search for food in the wilderness or do various jobs to earn their meal along the way, hitchhike or bike/walk a lot. Others use crowdfunding. If you really wish to travel, it all depends on how far you’re ready to go and where you draw the line, either because of ethics or because you are putting yourself too much at risk.
4. He who would travel happily must travel light.
There’s so much truth in this quote from Antoine de St. Exupery! We can take it literally, and think about backpacking through nature or cities. How happy would you feel with a two-tone bag strapped to your back? How long would you spend exploring until you feel drained of energy? Then, we can consider that those who carry a lot would normally also need a lot. How easy is such a person to please? From this insightful quote about traveling we learn that if you need very little to find joy in your travels and beyond, it’s easier to enjoy the ride.
5. Own only what you can always carry with you: known languages, known countries, known people. Let your memory be your travel bag.
To continue the idea above, we have this quote from the Russian novelist, historian, and short story writer Alexandr Solzhenitsyn. Instead of focusing on objects, such as souvenirs for tourists, collect memories instead. Memories of the places you’ve discovered and explored, the people you met along the way, and, why not, the languages you picked from your travels. These are the things that stay with you for good and bring you comfort, year after year. These sort of souvenirs don’t break, don’t burn, and can’t be stolen. You carry them with you wherever you may go, without adding extra weight.
6. Wherever you go becomes a part of you somehow.
Anita Desai is an Indian novelist. In this insightful quote about traveling she points out that every journey leaves its print on you. Even without your knowledge, just being in a different place will leave a mark. Whether you see new things on the street, taste the local food or beverages, connect with strangers or take part in an event, you will not leave the same person you were when you arrived. Good or bad, the things we live are what make us who we are. They reinforce our traits or make us realize we need to change for the better.
7. A journey is best measured in friends, rather than miles.
Tim Cahill is an Australian professional footballer. Probably not who you’d expect to be the owner of an insightful quote about traveling, but you don’t have to be a famous writer to know anything about journeys. I mean, look at you and me! One can enjoy being most anywhere if he is in the right company. We can consider people we’ve met along our journeys or those we have brought along to share the ride. Either way, there are many times when we remember a place more dearly, because of those we were with. My best personal example is my visit to Shkoder, with those I met at The Wanderers Hostel.
8. We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm, and adventure. There is no end to the adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.
The former Prime Minister of India, Jawaharial Nehru, encourages us to open our eyes to take in the surrounding sights. Actively searching to discover and admire our surroundings will help us become tourists even in our home towns and/or the towns we’re currently living in. How many days have you spent staring only at your shoes or at the shoes of others in crowded public transport? How long has it been since you last looked at the higher levels of the building surrounding you? When was the last time you admired the transformation of the trees with each passing season, in the park closest to your home?
9. The pleasure we derive from journeys is perhaps dependent more on the mindset with which we travel than on the destination we travel to.
The Swiss-born British philosopher and author Alain de Botton tells us that keeping our eyes open isn’t enough, we also have to keep our minds open. If we embrace our travels with curiosity instead of fear and prejudices, we are more likely to enjoy the experiences we’re going through. When you’re on holiday and off to discover some new place, there’s no good reason why one can’t afford being an optimist. You don’t even have to hope, actually, you just have to go there and have no expectations. Just let yourself be surprised by the journey itself.
10. One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.
The American writer Henry Miller takes us a step further, telling us that our travels are supposed to not be about a destination, but rather a learning experience. Travel should make us more understanding of individuals from other cultures, and it should help us embrace diversity. Think about your trips from last year. Did your most recent travels change you in any way? How did they shape you into the person you are today? What are you hoping to get out of your travel experiences for when you get back home?
11. Traveling is a brutality. It forces you to trust strangers and to lose sight of all that familiar comfort of home and friends. You are constantly off balance. Nothing is yours except the essential things – air, sleep, dreams, the sea, the sky – all things tending towards the eternal or what we imagine of it.
The Italian poet and novelist Cesare Pavese makes traveling seem a bit frightening through his quote. But, if you think about it, it’s completely true, especially when you’re traveling alone. You really have to get over your shyness and boundaries, step outside of your box, and interact with others. Whether to socialize and make new friends, or just to get some directions, you will have to put your trust into one or several strangers along the way. Reaching out to others and being constantly off-balance, as he puts it, is, in the end, one of the main reasons for traveling. To not only see a new place but to discover yourself in a new light. And we’ll return to this later.
12. If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay at home.
The American author James A. Michener puts it bluntly when he tells people who do not wish to change their ways to simply stay home. In the comfort of your own house, you get to eat the same meals you always do and live by your own rules (hopefully, while respecting the law). At home, you can keep your ideas about religion unchallenged, and connect only with the selected few. Travel is all about novelty, diversity, and acceptance. It is about being open-minded, but if one doesn’t wish to step outside their box, the simplest thing is to just don’t travel. Passions aren’t universal, it’s ok for some people to just not be into travel.
13. At its best, travel should challenge our preconceptions and most cherished views, cause us to rethink our assumptions, shake us a bit, make us broader-minded and more understanding.
Travel writer Arthur B. Frommer claims that those who have left the house looking and accepting change are in for a challenge. A challenge of their own preconceptions and their most important views on the world, making us shift our perspective. By traveling, we learn and explore other points of view first-hand or through hear-say. Either way, we discover there’s so much more out there than how we initially saw the world. Naturally, after our travels, we return home as better versions of ourselves, with a deeper understanding of the world surrounding us.
14. Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, we can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends.
The American writer and social rights activist Maya Angelou realizes that travel may not be able to prevent intolerance in the world. However, she hopes that traveling can help us realize that we are all people, no matter where we live or where we come from. We have our differences, of course, but we are also very similar to each other. We have what’s necessary in order to connect among ourselves. And this can go deeper than just our primal needs and basic feelings. And not just connect, but also develop an affinity for one another. This can later even transform into a relationship of friendship.
15. What you’ve done becomes the judge of what you’re going to do – especially in other people’s minds. When you’re traveling, you are what you are right there and then. People don’t have your past to hold against you. No yesterdays on the road.
American travel writer and historian William Least Heat Moon says that when we are on the road we get the benefit of the doubt. When we travel, we have no past or past actions people can hold against us. It doesn’t even have to be something we did, it can be something tragic that happened to us, and those who know about it simply can’t get past the “victim” tag. Or maybe, indeed, we did something questionable and, even if we decided to change for the better, people might still be biased against us and distrustful. However, on our travels, people we get to know have no idea of our pasts, they know only what we choose to share. On the road, we get a clean slate.
16. Travel far enough, you might meet yourself.
The postmodernist British writer David Mitchell hints at the fact that if we leave our comfort zone, we might rediscover ourselves. Once you step out of your box and you break the pattern of your usual travels or your everyday habits, you may end up rediscovering yourself. It is in extreme situations and in new circumstances which we have never considered before that our true nature surfaces. It is when you haven’t had the time to think about how to act, about what is proper and accepted by society. You just act in the way that is most natural to you.
17. Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.
The American essayist, lecturer, philosopher, and poet Ralph Waldo Emerson asks us to be courageous. In life, it is easy to take the path everybody else is taking or if I am to be a bit less polite — to follow the herd. It is an act of courage to break away from the majority and to create your own way. You may get judged for it and sometimes it can even be risky, depending on the area you chose to distance yourself from what is considered the norm. In your travels, when you leave your own trail, you get to discover more than you’ve read about in travel guides or on travel blogs and website. Dare, give it a go!
18. Once in a while, it really hits people that they don’t have to experience the world in the way they have been told to.
Writer Alan Keightley brings an addition to our collection of quotes about traveling differently than the rest. It may sound unbelievable, but when you visit some new place, there’s no need for you to check all the important touristic attractions. You can forget about museums and landmarks if they’re not your thing. Think about what your thing is. Maybe you wish to taste the best cheesecakes a place has to offer or discover the street art. There will always be people who will ask how could you go to a certain city without visiting I don’t know what. But why should you care, as long as you got what you wanted for your holiday?!
19. It’s not what you look at that matters. It’s what you see.
The multi-talented Henry David Thoreau may seem that he is rephrasing the well-known saying that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Actually, he takes it up a notch. Here’s a suggestion for you: walk around your home town and discover it as if you were a tourist. I can assure you that you will stumble upon new things even on the streets you have wandered on the most. I am always surprised when I walk on some streets of Bucharest and I just look up, and I see beautifully detailed old houses, covered in ivy. It’s most beautiful in autumn when the leaves turn yellow, orange or a bright red. I love that!
20. Blessed are the curious for they shall have adventures.
Lovelle Drachman is behind one of my favorite quotes about traveling! I used to think I was a curious cat, but I am nothing compared to my fiancé, Mathieu. On our third date, we went on a long walk to not arrive early at a concert. And we were chatting, but he was always looking around, taking in the sights which were new for him at that time. He even jumped up several times to look over a fence, and he took me to check out a statue. I had passed many times on those streets, never stopping next to the fence or at the statue. His curiosity had made the walk very enjoyable and helped me discover new things in my home town. And this is how he is in all our travels, which turns our holidays into true adventures!
21. A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.
Ancient Chinese philosopher and writer Lao Tzu points out the fact that the end destination isn’t really what matters when you travel. It’s rather the trip itself. A good traveler is out there for the experience, for the surprises awaiting on the road. Like a hero in a fantasy book, this kind of traveler is welcoming all trials, big or small, which will come up during the trip. The good traveler welcomes the opportunity of trying something new or meeting someone new. He or she is not pressed by any fixed plans, but open to the idea of come what may. Please note that I am not saying you shouldn’t be planning your trip. I’m just saying that your schedule should be relaxed enough to leave room for the unpredictable. 🙂
22. Tourists don’t know where they’ve been, travelers don’t know where they’re going.
American travel writer and novelist Paul Theroux is making us question if we are tourists or travelers on our trips. Tourists are those who go to a place and check all the touristic attractions. They are those taking photos in the most Instagrammable places, just like hundreds of other people. The ones who eat in the restaurants next to all the touristic attractions. Those who follow the same pattern in all travels, and end up with photos, but not with a lot of true memories. Travelers, on the other hand, remember the experiences and places because the trip is personal to them, tailored to their taste. They look for restaurants where the locals eat. And their photos will capture the uniqueness of each place they go to. =
23. Travel is only glamorous in retrospect.
Paul Theroux brings another addition to our list of quotes about traveling. And, boy, is he right! OK, maybe luxury travel is glamorous all the time, not just in retrospect. But let’s focus on us, the budget travelers and backpackers. Consider the time lost waiting in airports, the small spaces we usually get, the noisy strangers around us. Or the long road trips when there’s nothing to see out the window, with slow traffic, packed with angry drivers. Or a climb while the weather is toying with you. That very moment, you hate it and question your choice to go there. But, once you’re back in the comfort of your home, you’re thinking dearly about your latest trip. You forget the hardship, and remember the good parts, already thinking about the next trip!
24. Traveling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.
The Muslim Moroccan scholar and explorer Ibn Battuta is the author of this wonderful quote. If you need any proof, just look at me or any other travel blogger. Or, better yet, check yourself out! How many times during your travels have you remained in awe when facing a place? Remember all those places which have left you without words, be it because of their grandeur, their incredible details, their beauty or their history. Do not think only about the good things, consider those in the sphere of dark tourism, as well. And then, when you came back home, remember how you enjoyed sharing those stories with your family and/or friends? And how you enjoy providing information to those interested in going to the same places you’ve already been?
25. A ship in a harbor is safe, but it is not what ships are built for.
American author and professor John Augustus Shedd brings us to our first sailing analogy of this list. Like a ship, we are not meant to spend our times in only one place, where we live. We are meant to explore the world like many others have done it before us. Consider how long it took humans to become settlers and how after that we went exploring for new places to settle in. Exploring is in our history, it is in our nature. Go searching for the unknown, and step out of your comfort zone. I think I’ve said this many times in this blog post, but I feel I simply can’t stress this enough.
26. 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.
American writer, humorist, entrepreneur, publisher, and lecturer Mark Twain comes with the second (and last!) sailing analogy from our quotes about traveling list. It is always said that we end up regretting more the things we didn’t do, than those we did but didn’t turn out the way we hoped. Perhaps it’s because those that fall in the first category leave us with the torturing question what if…? So, instead of always wondering about it, take a chance or a leap of faith, and dare to do what scares you. At least you’ll get some closure if things don’t go your way, instead of thinking up scenarios about what could have been.
27. Because in the end, you won’t remember the time you spent working in the office or mowing your lawn. Climb that goddamn mountain.
American novelist and poet of French-Canadian descent Jack Kerouac. This quote is from this book, and I was reminded by it recently because someone left it on my Instagram page. Imagine yourself old, surrounded by your grandchildren. What kind of stories will you tell them about your life? What adventures will they hear about from you? Which are your fondest memories? We learned a bit earlier that travel turns us into storytellers. It is because travel is about making memories. Whether we reminisce the good or laugh about the bad, our trips make great stories!
28. No one realizes how beautiful it is to travel until he comes home and rests his head on his old, familiar pillow.
The Chinese writer, translator, linguist, philosopher, and inventor Lin Yutang takes us back to that moment when we just got home after a vacation and we’re already missing it or thinking about the next one. We spoke above about the lack of glamour of traveling and all the hardships it can come with. Even so, as soon as we feel the threat of routine, we end up getting that tingly feeling of wanderlust once again. Unless you’re really passionate about your job, the only comfort may be that the daily get-up-go-to-work-work-go-back-home routine is what gives you the means to afford to pay for your next travel adventures. Hang in there!
29. A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
This is the second quote from the Ancient Chinese philosopher and writer Lao Tzu in this selection of insightful quotes about traveling. It can actually apply to anything we do in life, not just traveling. Focusing on our travels, though, once we get the idea and the courage to take action in that direction, we have made the first step of our journey. It’s nice to dream about where we want to get to and what we want to see and experience. But the first step we take is getting the plane ticket or putting some money aside for it. You have to take action to make your dreams reality.
30. Oh, the places you’ll go!
American children’s author Dr. Seuss (Theodor Seuss Geisel) brings us to the last, but not least, quote from this selection. It’s also my favorite quote about traveling, actually. It holds so much hope, so much promise about everything that’s out there, just waiting to get discovered. You’ll be seeing great sights! […] You’ll feel ready for anything under the sky. […] On and on you will hike, / And I know you’ll hike far / and face up to your problems / whatever they are. […] You’re off the Great Places! / Today is your day! / Your mountain is waiting. / So…get on your way! (From Oh, the places you’ll go, by Dr. Seuss)
This sums up my selection of 30 quotes about traveling. I hope you enjoyed it and that it helped inspire you for your upcoming trips in the year 2019.
You’ve already discovered the quotes I’m most fond about in this list. I’m wondering, though:
Which is your favorite quote about traveling?