Tag Archives: travel writers

Everybody’s a Travel Writer: Quotations about Travel

News Editor

One of the best parts of travel is all the wild or wise things you are then entitled to say about it later. We found some places where great quotations about journeys of various kinds have been brought together for our contemplation. One is called “80 Greatest Travel Quotes of All Time,” put together by Kevin Visser, a travel professional who books cruises and has personally been to nearly 40 countries. World Backpackers offers a nice bunch of quotes, and the rest of the site is pretty interesting too. Especially the “Stories from the Road” section, which is attractively various. Another great collection has been compiled by Susan Breslow Sardone, who used to be the marketing director at New York Magazine and is now the go-to gal when it comes to planning romantic honeymoon trips. A blogger known as Gramma Ann has gathered a small but quirky bunch of quotations. And here are some of our favorites from a number of sources:

“I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list.”
Susan Sontag

“People travel to faraway places to watch, in fascination, the kind of people they ignore at home.”
Dagobert D. Runes

“I love old globes. They’re really wrong.”
Kevin Dolgin

“Travel has no longer any charm for me. I have seen all the foreign countries I want to except heaven and hell and I have only a vague curiosity about one of those.”
Mark Twain

“Our happiest moments as tourists always seem to come when we stumble upon one thing while in pursuit of something else.”
Lawrence Block

“I quickly found that writing about traveling is much better than traveling on its own.”
Kevin Dolgin

“All very large cities are jungles, which is to say that they are dense and dark and full of surprises and strange growths; they are hard to read, hard to penetrate; strange people live in them; and they contain mazy areas of great danger.”
Paul Theroux

“The traveler sees what he sees, the tourist sees what he has come to see.”
G. K. Chesterton

“I deplore the presence of borders and cross them whenever possible, sometimes just to spite them.”
Kevin Dolgin

“A journey is like marriage. The certain way to be wrong is to think you control it.”
John Steinbeck

“When you travel for business you almost inevitably end up having some kind of local contact, often (although not always) these people are themselves interesting and are pleased when you show interest in their home and their background. As such, you can often become immersed in local history and culture more easily than if you are traveling as a tourist.”
Kevin Dolgin

“Traveling is almost like talking with men of other centuries.”
René Descartes

“All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.”
Martin Buber

“I must admit that bookstore density is one of the criteria by which I judge a city.”
Kevin Dolgin

“I have found out that there ain’t no surer way to find out whether you like people or hate them than to travel with them.”
Mark Twain

“It’s a drug, travel. It’s the drug of discovery, and it perches on your back banging on your head if you don’t feed it from time to time. Hold out to me the opportunity of discovering someplace new and it’s very difficult not to go.”
Kevin Dolgin

“I really have enjoyed my stay, but I must be movin’ on.”

“A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.”
Lao Tzu

“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

“Traveling can open windows to a wide world, because once you start swimming around in it, you realize that the world is both far more vast and far smaller than you thought.”
Kevin Dolgin

“We are all travelers in the wilderness of this world, and the best we can find in our travels is an honest friend.”
Robert Louis Stevenson

The astute reader will have noticed a certain preponderance of quotations from one particular travel writer here, namely the author of The Third Tower Up From the Road. This is no coincidence.

Send us your favorite travel quotations!

photo courtesy of joiseyshowaa , used under this Creative Commons license

Travel Writers’ Most Memorable Bummers

outhouseBy PAT HARTMAN
News Editor

Tim Cahill is an adventure travel writer who has visited about 100 countries and won a National Magazine Award, among other tributes. One of the founders of Outside magazine, he’s also seen his work appear in National Geographic, the New York Times Book Review, and many other places. One of those other places is The Titanic Awards, a humor-laden online complaint department where Cahill and others with stories to tell gather ’round and reveal their all-time least delightful travel experiences. We quote his unfond memories of the world’s worst outhouse:

The Throne of Terror, built at an archeological dig near Lake Paytexbatun, Guatemala. Archeologists are not biologists and constructed the two holer over an existing vertical cave populated by bats. Visitors are obliged to deal the common travelers’ ailment while angry bats swoop and dive about in a maelstrom of rage.

By strange coincidence, a bat-infested privy is also described by Paul Theroux, only his brush with the phenomenon took place in a leper colony in Malawi. It’s in his book Fresh Air Fiend.

Grant Thatcher, publisher of the LUXE city guides, mentions the toilet in a certain train in India. He says, “The image charred into my retina will forever be the benchmark against which I judge all conveniences.” But we mustn’t get the idea that American travel writers find fault with what Voltaire called “the smallest room in the house” only if that room is located in another principality. For instance, Mike Richard, editor at Vagabondish.com, recalls a public restroom in Portland, Maine, as the worst of the worst. “It was like someone let a pack of methed-up children loose on a poo pinata,” is his vivid description.

Now, here’s a fellow who should know something about bad. He’s the author of The World’s Most Dangerous Places. We’re talking about Robert Young Pelton, who reminisces about his worst toilet, which was none, in Mali. He says you just “wander out into the sand and find a spot,” observed, more likely than not, by indigenous people, who are curious to know if a white guy does it different somehow. Well, fair’s fair. Isn’t that what white guys go over there to find out? The question, “Do the natives do it different somehow?” is the very essence of the entire field of anthropology and several others.

But potties infested by airborne mammals, or latrines in general, or even the absence of amenities entirely — these are not the only focus of the Titanic Awards. For instance, there’s the Worst Buskers category. And the Worst Tourism Slogans, Worst Theme Park Attraction, and many, many more. And by the way, visit WorldHum and check out Eva Holland’s contribution, “Adventures in Unfortunate Place Names.”

There’s another whole category of bummer, the kind made up of war zones and other apocalyptic locales typically explored by P.J. O’Rourke, as in his books All the Trouble in the World and Holidays in Hell. In Parliament of Whores, he gives examples:

I’ve been to Beirut, where people were living in holes scooped out of rubble. I’ve been to the Manila city dump, where people were living in holes scooped out of garbage.

Yet, somehow, it always comes back to the jakes. As O’Rourke told interviewer Chris Mitchell, “I am a little tired of the Third World travel, part of it’s just age, it’s tough on the system, tough on the gastro-intestinal tract…”

photo courtesy of WKHarmon, used under this Creative Commons license