The art of travel

Alain de Botton, writer, philosopher and maker of Socrumentaries, talks about how we are actually quite ignorant of the art of travel when we go on holiday. Our error being that, he says, “we take ourselves, complete with our habits and worries, with us.” So why travel, if it just means bringing along all your junk with you? Here’s 3 ways you can leave your baggage behind when you travel and give yourself completely to the art of losing yourself.


  1. Create new narratives by creating new memories

You’ve been told – or you tell yourself –  that you’re no good at something. Or you’re just not the type of person who does this kind of thing.

If you’re not a fan of the water or find fish really creepy (I do), that’s cool. I’m not suggesting you sign yourself up for diving lessons just for the sake of doing something different. But often you have stories you tell yourself. Narratives that you’ve been repeating to yourself so much that you forget where they come from.

And travel gives you the opportunity for experiences that challenge.

As one of the brand-new yogis on our Barefoot holiday said, he never thought he’d be doing yoga or eating vegetarian – but he had a lovely weekend away in Somerset to try it all on for size. (And now he’s at least 10% hippie.)


2. Be a curator of beauty and truth

Travel brings you new sights, colours, smells and sounds. Drink these in and let them ignite your imagination – it’s like Pinterest in real life.

There is however, a difference between simply collecting and curating. The latter involves discipline and consciousness. It’s an ongoing practice of figuring out what it is you find beautiful, what speaks to you deeply and truthfully – and ultimately, what you want to surround yourself with.


3. Practice humility

Back to the creepy fish. I love all animals, but somehow fish I just couldn’t deal with. I’d put it down to a bit of xenophobia – they just look so weird and different to their cuddlier, fluffier animal brethren.

And then I went on my first scuba dive, and I realized it was because they’re actually better than me. Down in the water, in their domain, I’m useless. Human rules don’t apply. I may be great at ocean-breathing the whole way through an Ashtanga practice, but out here in the real ocean, fish, you win. You streak by with grace and ease, while I flap around with plastic feet and breathe out of a can.

So give thanks to the inhabitants of the lands you visit. They may be richer, poorer, or have more scales than you, but if you lower your guard (and your self-importance) you’ll find they always have something to teach you.


“The only true voyage of discovery… would be not to visit strange lands but to possess other eyes, to behold the universe through the eyes of another, of a hundred others, to behold the hundred universes that each of them beholds, that each of them is” – Marcel Proust, The Prisoner