3 years ago

Silly, Sentimental, Useless, or Useful? Examining Popular Travel Quotations

Sometimes sentimental, sometimes inspiring, sometimes sickening. Here we examine entertaining quotes on the philosophy of travel.

How many times have you been in a hostel and you’ve seen “inspirational” travel quotes adorning its walls, sometimes written behind the back of a toilet door? What about those travel blogs who over-use words from great writers to illustrate their point, often blatantly misquoting or attributing something to someone who never actually said it in the first place? Or how about that one friend on Facebook who insists on continuously posting pictures of a tree and a sunset with vomit-inducing text to make you feel better about yourself?!

Looking for some travel inspirations and directions.

All joking aside, there are some incredible travel quotes out there, there are some mediocre ones, and there are those that should never have been uttered in the first place and we’ll lose our minds if we see one more person with it tattooed on their ankle. Here we take a look at some of the best and worst travel quotes out there.

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that 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.”

It’s astounding to think that – in spite of this wonderful research tool we call the internet – people still believe this was said by Mark Twain. We’re sure you’ll lose count of how many times you’ll see it when you’re on the road, usually misquoted, and almost always attributed incorrectly. If you don’t believe us, google it and look at the images. It was in actual fact written in H. Jackson Brown Jr’s book P.S. I Love You and spoken by his mother. Doesn’t quite carry the same prestige though.

“Not all those who wander are lost.”

We can almost guarantee you’ll see this tattooed somewhere before your trip is done, a line taken from a poem by the great J.R.R. Tolkien in his seminal Lord of the Rings trilogy.

How many times have you heard the quote “Not all those who wander are lost”?

Often slightly misquoted or shortened, the sentence often appears to be utilized by those people who are actually lost but are trying really hard to claim that they’re not. Just see how many shots they’re downing in the hostel bar to illustrate our point. 

“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page.”

Attributed to Saint Augustine, this quote often adorns hostel walls, perhaps scrawled somewhere in fancy writing in the common room. However, it has never been found in any of the theologian’s writings, nor was there evidence he was a traveler himself.

Maybe he was just trying to convince people he was worldly-wise while actually being stuck in the day job. Regardless, it has become a popular, bite-sized travel quote to jibe your mates with when they’re back home working and you’re hitchhiking through Zambia with one shoe.

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.”

Ahhhh, now this one we can definitely attribute to Mark Twain, and we couldn’t agree more. Taken from his book Innocents Abroad, we doubt any traveler in their right mind could argue against it. We believe travel is absolutely essential in negating racism and xenophobia, and Mr. Twain is spot on here. This is one quote we’d happily see more of on our travels – and more people adopting its philosophy. It would certainly go some way to breaking down barriers of misunderstood countries and their people.

“Carpe Diem”

Without a doubt, the tritest, irksome, and sickeningly overused quote on our list is this one, often appearing in tandem with a “ye olde worlde” picture of a compass. Not attributed to anyone in particular – although the movie Dead Poet’s Society has got a lot to answer for in making it so universally known and thus inked onto every 1 out of 10 travelers you meet.

You live only once!

A Latin phrase meaning “seize the day,” you can understand why thousands of people have seized upon it as a life-affirming quote and deemed it necessary to have it tattooed somewhere in black letter gothic. If we see it one more time it won’t be the day we’re seizing!

“Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.”

There really aren’t enough memes out there with this quote on. Seriously – we think everyone should make more. What we could do is play a sorting game, and see how many memes have a picture of a beach, how many are of mountains, how many are of the sea, how many are of a map, or how many are of a woodland path. The author of this flogged-to-death quote is anonymous (or perhaps in hiding as they don’t want to own up to saying it) and it certainly isn’t true either. Try buying a book for one thing.

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

We’ll finish with some Chinese philosophy from Lao Tzu, who is recognized as the founder of Taoism. Once again often misquoted and sometimes attributed to Confucius – Tzu’s contemporary – these words are thought to have been based on a Chinese proverb and included in the book The Way of Lao Tzu. Another one we particularly agree with in our continuing mission to encourage would-be travelers to get out there and explore the world. It can be examined for deep context and mused over for hours and utilized in many walks of life – not just traveling. But as daunting and as stressful as traveling might first appear to be, this is arguably the most useful and inspiring quote here, as we’ve all go to start somewhere. Chinese proverbs are great, aren’t they?

Don’t be afraid to take your first step!

From the sublime to the ridiculous and back again, there are hundreds of travel quotes out there to suit everyone; whether you’ve got your head in the clouds, your tongue in your cheek or you’re simply cynical, bitter and twisted. What appeals to one might not appeal to someone else, but in reality, it’s all about what inspires you. If it gets you out of bed in the morning or booking a flight to a place you’ve never been – then that can’t be a bad thing at all.

What’s your favorite travel quote, or a travel quote you utterly despise?! Let us know!