From the launch of TravelSmartWoman.com, in late 2016, I decided to include my favorite travel quotes. Because I firmly believe travel makes us better citizens of the world, I searched for travel quotes that would inspire others to take a deep breath and leap…into an unfamiliar experience.
Science says that quotes make a difference
What is it about quotes, anyway? There’s actually science behind their importance. Read more here. No matter your challenge or passion, there’s a quote to motivate you. Chances are, you have one or more taped to a mirror. Pinned to a bulletin board. Stuck to the refrigerator.
Quotes inspire and resonate. They help you get out of bed in the morning. Change a behavior. Take a risk. Decide to travel…let me say it again: TRAVEL
We look to those who have gone before us, weathered the storm, and now are wise in telling us how to reach our goals. There is no shortage of quotes for business, relationship, or other kinds of success.
For those of us who want to travel, but are timid or inexperienced? We need a double dose. Because, after all, travel is an option. Unlike earning a living or maintaining social ties, travel is not mandatory. Sadly, it can seem like an indulgence. Even if we really, really want to travel, we can always back out.
You say, “Yes! I want to travel! Show me the quotes!”
I hear you. I’ve compiled the best quotes from the first years of TravelSmart Woman. Most are about beginning, gathering courage, and planning…even if we’re nervous. The important thing is to start. Everything else follows.
The formatting of these quotes is simple, but the words are true. I sincerely hope that some call out to you. If so, please write them down and use them to start your next journey.
Rumi always inspires me. He was a 13th century Persian poet who lived in present-day Afghanistan. I’m pretty sure he didn’t set out to write thousands of quotes, but he speaks to the human condition with incredible Insight and clarity.
You wonder how someone who lived so long ago can understand you so well today. If you’d like to read some of his works, I recommend The Illuminated Rumi–it’s simply beautiful. If you need more of a daily nudge, try A Year With Rumi: Daily Readings. Either way, you won’t be disappointed.
YES! Isn’t that the principle of travel? It’s not about buying souvenirs or collecting bragging rights to the places we’ve been. It’s about what we remember…and how we change because of what we’ve seen.
Derek Wolcott was born and lived in St. Lucia. He was a gifted poet who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1992. He first instantly won me over with his poem Love After Love. And he won me over again with the six words of this quote. (If you’d like to purchase a poetry collection from his life, click here.)
This is absolutely one of my favorite travel quotes. It’s personal…I was born to travel and, from childhood, craved discovering new destinations. It would eventually happen, when I was finally able to set out on my own.
I suppose this is a version of “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” I like it better because it’s catchy. It’s about MY soul. And with every trip, I truly feel as if my soul is gaining a new experience. It just takes that first step, to begin the journey.
Elizabeth Bishop captures the uncertainty we all feel. Do I stay or do I go? Am I ready to return home? Did I accomplish what I wanted? Did I learn anything? Am I ready to move on? Every traveler asks these questions. An incredible woman, with an equally incredible life (1927-1979). Get all her poems here.
John Shedd‘s quote starts to drill down, maybe even making us feel a bit edgy. Do we only explore the world in a way that keeps us comfortable? (Brand-name hotels, familiar food, bottomless coffee…) OR do we agree to dive in and experience a different culture? This is an individual question; no one can say what is right or wrong for you. But it should nudge you to being open to different experiences…
I say, Walt Whitman was another person who speaks to the here-and-now. He understood that we all have our own path. Even with modern influences (Facebook, Instagram, TripAdvisor, or whatever the current travel social media darling), our experiences are solely our own. And that’s how it should be. Even if we go as a couple or in a group, we each see the same sunset in a different way. Whitman tells us that it’s all good. (Treat yourself to Whitman’s complete works for less than $15.00. He was a genius.)
I’m not good at meditating. I’ve tried–and will continue–but my mind goes into “squirrel-mode.” Jon Kabat-Zinn has always been an inspiration. I have and re-read his Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life. But for now, I love his reminder that being able to watch children walk to school, to observe women at a local market, or to join a festival is a big deal. Each is a gift.
I really don’t like my favorite travel quotes to have no name. “Anonymous” drives me nuts–c’mon, someone must have said this remarkable bit of wisdom. But I gave way for this quote…it’s absolutely, 100% true.
I am not a brave traveler. Plus, I’m an introvert. But the need to explore outweighs my need to feel secure. I trust in the goodness of people…and go. I’ve never been disappointed or felt scared.
I apologize for not attributing this to Confucius. The important thing is to stay in the present. We can’t go to Paris and think about what Rome would be like if we were there. We can’t eat sushi and compare it to tacos. Every single place has something to offer. Look around. Ask. Discover something new. Stay in the here-and-now. Always.
Susan Heller–bless her heart–nailed the best-ever advice about travel planning in two sentences. Honestly, no one cares about what you wear. Just swap scarves. But you DO need the funds to get around, eat, and sleep. Truly: You can always pack lighter. And you will probably spend more than you planned–because it’s all going to be so much more than you expected!
The mosaic background for one of my favorite travel quotes is from my travels to Romana del Casale in Sicily. Tiny pieces of marble, arranged in intricate designs and scenes. I could send you a hundred photos, but until you see it for yourself, it’s just another pretty picture from another Roman ruin. You must go and see the entire home, with mosaics in every room–excavated after a mud slide buried the area hundreds of years ago. THEN you will fully appreciate it.
This photo is from my trip to Turkey. I traveled with Rick Steves tours, because I’ve always found them to be a good value. The “No Grump” clause means that fellow travelers are like-minded. Every trip has bumps and glitches; it’s important to be with others who understand that it’s just part of seeing the world. Turkey was one of my favorite places–don’t be afraid. The people are incredible. Go!
Once you start to travel, you understand how much you have in common with every other citizen of the earth. While our everyday lives may be different (food, work, faith), our desires are the same: that our children thrive, that we prosper, that the world becomes safe and peaceful. We start to be comfortable wherever we go.
A funny thing happens when you step out of your comfort zone: You get to experience the world as you, not as how others perceive you. You get a chance to start anew, to engage and interact in a fresh way. And that can be life-changing.
You’ve heard of OJT–On the Job Training–and travel gives you this opportunity in spades. Suddenly, you’re dropped into a different culture and it’s up to you to learn how to cope. Thankfully, there are lots of resources, but it’s still an experience to adapt to a new culture or country. In the end, you learn to be flexible, curious, and accepting. Those are the best lessons of travel.
This photo is from my walk on the Camino de Santiago. About 40 days of walking across northern Spain. Each morning, I’d wake up and start the day’s hike. As I approached a village, it was exciting to think of what might be waiting and who I might meet. That’s what travel is like: What comes next? And after I find out, what comes after that??
Isn’t it crazy to think that Leonardo da Vinci never set foot in an airplane, but could imagine what it would feel like? I never tire of take-offs and landings. They’re thrilling to me. And at the end of a trip, I’m already thinking of the next adventure. I’m sure Leonardo would have felt the same.
This is truly one of my favorite travel quotes. Yes, read travel articles. Subscribe to email lists. Make your bucket list. (Although I don’t think they’re always a good idea.) But…begin. You won’t get anywhere just reading or thinking about it. Start a dedicated travel fund. Learn to travel solo. Sign up for a tour. As the earlier quote says, “Just Go.”
Of all my favorite travel quotes, this is the toughest one to explain to others. Until you’ve “invested” in travel and reaped its rewards, it’s impossible to understand how spending money (Airfare! Hotels! Tours! Tips! Travel insurance!) can bring unimaginable richness to your life. Fortunately, those of us who have learned to love it, know how much it is worth. Priceless!
Tell me about a trip you took when you didn’t discover or learn something new. Never, right? It might be a bit of history, a new food, an interesting tradition… There. Is. Always. Something. And you don’t have to cross borders for this experience: A nearby town or neighboring state can be just as exciting. A true traveler has curiosity…and will find something exciting.
Another photo from Sicily, this one from Catania. If you can, get to this proud and historic part of Italy. (They consider themselves Sicilian first, Italians second.) For me, there are so many places I’d love to return to–and yet so many places left to explore. Always the traveler’s conundrum…
Yet another photo from Sicily, this one from Trapani and its ancient salt flats. Wifi? Do we really need it when we are living in the moment? Do we need to be connected to the “real” world and its drama? Do we need to share every moment on social media? Or can we allow ourselves to truly move off the grid and explore?
I was in Turkey, hanging at the back of the group. I can’t remember why we had stopped or what we were supposed to be looking at. I looked up and saw this woman, leaning out of her window. She saw me and I gestured, asking if I could take her photo. She nodded. Once again, I was reminded how kind the people are, of any place. If we put opinions and politics aside, we discover that we all have so much in common.
Bill Bryson says things better than anyone. He is my favorite travel writer, managing to describe everything he sees with fresh eyes. He understands the essentialness of everyday life–and what a gift it is to see it in a new way, in a new place. If you haven’t read him, here are some suggestions: Notes From a Small Island; A Walk In the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail; The Lost Continent: Travels in Small-Town America; and Neither Here nor There: Travels in Europe. (Note: These are some of his travel books. Everything he chooses to write about is magnificent.)
I think this quote sums it up nicely. When we travel, we can understand others–and ourselves–in a different way. Our view broadens, as well as our tolerance and acceptance. We become better humans.
Do you have favorite travel quotes? Please share them in the comments!