Travel Quotes & The Stories Behind Them

Travel Quotes & The Stories Behind Them

5 awesome travel quotes and the stories behind them

With everything from uplifting titbits by the American beatniks to possibly apocrypha lines from literary greats, this list of five awesome travel quotes and the stories behind them is sure to offer just a little food for thought. We’ve got stories of alcohol­induced wanderlust (yep, we’ve all been there!) and curious hobbit­related mantras alike. Enjoy...

“Nothing behind me, everything ahead of me, as is ever so on the road.” Jack Kerouac

A favourite of any beatnik wannabe who ever sipped a straight bourbon and dreamed of hitching boxcars across the USA, the wise, wise words of one Jack Kerouac are a staple on any list of the world’s most spine­tingling travel quotes. The story behind it? Well, without giving away the gripping escapades of the novel’s main party animal extraordinaire, Dean Moriarty, suffice to say that it’s an expression of the author’s own wildcard, caution­to­the­ wind style of living. A counterculture demi­god, Kerouac lived fast and hard. These very words pop­up between the pages of On the Road: his most famous work and nothing short of essential reading for the budding backpacker come bohemian!

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.” Mark Twain (or maybe not Mark Twain?)

Perhaps the single most of the ­quoted piece of inspiration in words for the would­ be traveler, this goose bump­inducing titbit has all the features of an uplifting piece of a prose. Its happy­ go­lucky, hashtag­yolo style is enough to get anyone checking flights, touting the passport and off on their first LBW trip! Still, despite its fame, the authenticity of the authorship is shrouded in cloud. Attributed to Mark Twain by the likes of The New Yorker mag and countless travel bloggers to boot, there’s actually no evidence that the famous American essayist of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry fame ever wrote it. We like it though, so we won’t complain.

“The first condition of understanding a foreign country is to smell it.” Rudyard Kipling

From the man who traversed the Punjab and the deserts of Rajasthan, scaled the Himalayan hilltops and stopped (confusingly, considering one of his most famous works is entitled Mandalay) just for a few days in the docks of Burmese Rangoon, this quote puts it perfectly

for any travelers heading to the aromatic streets of the Far East. Towns like Delhi and Jaipur would have made an effect on the nose of the great writer, just like the peanut, soy and chilli smells of Khaosan Road or downtown Ho Chi Minh City get backpackers sniffing today!

“Only by going alone in silence, without baggage, can one truly get into the heart of the wilderness. All other travel is mere dust and hotels and baggage and chatter.” John Muir

These uplifting, thoughtful words were uttered by the legendary John of the Mountains: John Muir, the man who conquered the paths and trails of Yosemite and the peaks of the Sierra Nevada, the great forests of Sequoia and the dense woodlands of the Pacific Coast. A wanderer and great champion of the world’s wilder recesses, the American Scotsman was one of the pioneers of going it alone and into the hinterland a la Alexander Super tramp. The sentiment expressed is a perfect formulation of his determination to explore the US frontiers. It’s a legacy that lives on at spots like the eponymous Muir Woods National Monument, Muir Beach in California, and the John Muir Way cutting through the wilds of Scotland.

“Not all those who wander are lost.” J.R.R. Tolkien

At the risk of being party poopers to many a travel blogger’s enthusiastic quoting of the fantasy master himself, this regular mantra of Tolkien’s actually has much less to do with worldly travel than most people think. Yes, taken out of context it sounds like a ringing endorsement for the nomad life. We’re wanderers, but we ain’t lost! Unfortunately, that’s not what Tolkien meant at all. In fact, the line was simply an addition to his memorable ‘All that is gold does not glitter’ poem, which is used in Lord of the Rings to identify the real Aragorn. Sorry if that’s ruined it a little!

"Rich is a traveler, writer and filmmaker who's always after somewhere new to go. He's been hopping around the globe since 2011, from Poland to Paris, Mumbai to Ho Chi Minh. He runs several travel sites of his own, from Ski Eastern to Live Krakow to Crabs Move Sideways. When he's not planning his next trip, he's usually listening to 50s jazz, surfing in Wales, skiing in the Alps, or just swigging (too much) great craft beer."

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