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Essays On Travel

Traveling - The First Thing on Your To-Do List

There is nothing quite like traveling, like seeing a new place for the first time or returning to a favorite place. People of all ages, from all countries, travel to foreign places for many different reasons – namely work, family and leisure. Whether by plane, train, ship or automobile, travel is generally a pleasurable experience, at least for the people who can financially afford comfortable and safe methods of travel. But it has more benefits than satisfying one’s need to make money, as well as to see loved ones and enjoy one’s self on vacation. There are other benefits of traveling that many people often overlook.


One of the traveling benefits is finding and keeping humility. Too often, people get wrapped up in their lives, their daily routine of working, sleeping, eating and living. They become self-absorbed to the point it affects their health, their happiness, and their perspective. 

It’s a great, big world out there with billions and billions of people, who each day live their life and have their own unique experiences. 

Travel reminds those paying attention that they are not the only ship in the sea, that this is a huge world and that they are only a small, insignificant pea in it. This is quite a humbling experience – to go to another country and see large numbers of peoples living differently, and coming to understand how large the crazy world actually is. When people who learn return home, they keep with them this perspective for the rest of their life and they benefit from this is knowledge and perspective.

Another benefit to traveling is coming to see one’s native country in a different light, in a different way. This is done through being able to compare and contrast home from a foreign location, done most always through traveling. A new perspective may be formed.

Away from home, one comes to understand what “home” actually is and what it means. 

Perhaps their native country is not as free as they had been told or originally thought it to be, for example. One does not understand what it means to be a citizen of their native country until they have seen it from a distance, from another, completely different country. When traveling elsewhere and having to live according to a foreign place’s laws and social norms, one immediately thinks of how things are done in their own country and culture and begins to favor one way or another. This changes how one feels about their native country, whether in a better or worse light. This notion can be applied to various characteristics, such women’s rights, human rights, customs and traditions, beliefs, a trust of government, etc. Traveling is always beneficial for the individual experiencing it.

Another great benefit to traveling is the life experience. Many people in the world do not have the luxury of going to another country for pleasure, or even to another city in their native country for that matter. 

Traveling gets a person out of their comfort zone, away from all their normal pleasures and comforts and way of doing things. 

This forces them to be adventurous, to live life to the fullest, to take the most of this precious gift of life and use the time they have to discover new things, meet new people and experience a completely different life – much like people experience when reading fictional stories: They get to become whoever they are reading about, just like in travel they get to become the citizens of the country they are visiting, even if for just a short time. They live outside themselves.

To conclude, traveling is good for a person of any age. It not only helps people to form a better understanding of themselves, their beliefs and their lives, it also provides people with a better understanding of the world in which they live, even if it's beyond their immediate environment. And it may even help a person to feel connected to the many people living in the world, even if their lives never meet, even if their lives are so completely different that they may as well be from different planets.

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50 Great Articles and Essays about Travel and Adventure

A collection of the very best travel and adventure writing

Travel Guides

The Books They Carried by Peter Jon Lindberg

Are guidebooks dead?

Inside the Mad, Mad World of TripAdvisor by Tom Vanderbilt

Who can you trust?

The Book by Patrick Symmes

You can't buy it in any store, can't send away for it online, and you probably won't be able to read it if you do find it: the everywhere-and-nowhere travel bible of Israel's combat-fatigued, footloose vagabond youth


Tourist Traps Worth a Visit by Peter Jon Lindberg

A destination's most popular sites got that way for good reason. So why not embrace the masses along with the monuments?

The Place to Disappear by Susan Orlean

A visit to the beating heart of the Asian backpacker trail.

The Grand Tour by Evan Osnos

Europe on fifteen hundred yuan a day

Shipping Out by David Foster Wallace

On the dubious pleasures of the cruise

Losing It at Club Med by Po Bronson

There are palm trees and pool aerobics, searching singles and satiny sands. But a week at Club Med is not what you would expect

Against Honeymoons by Charles Comey

The strange and tricky thing about a honeymoon is that even while it's happening, it's already lived as a story

Welcome to Dog World! by Blair Braverman

My job was to make tourists believe they were seeing the "real" Alaska. Then things got real.

Off the Beaten Track

The Road to Shangri-La by Patrick Symmes

According to Tibetan Buddhist teachings, paradise exists in the shape of Shambhala, a lost kingdom somewhere in central Asia...

Thanksgiving in Mongolia by Ariel Levy

Adventure and heartbreak at the edge of the earth

Operation Iraqi Vacation by Saki Knafo

Iraq is open for tourists. Er, kind of....

This Teeming Ark by Tim Cahill

A great wash of humanity carried us onto the corrugated metal deck of the barge, engines thrumming, the Flueve Congo moved majestically out into the current and began floating down the Ubangi...

In a Minivan With a Stranger in Morocco by Michael Chabon

Nothing moves me more profoundly than discovering the extent of my own ignorance...

Holy Water by Bucky McMahon

For fifty years, with cannons, Hellfire missiles, and napalm, the U. S. Navy has bombed the daylights out of Vieques, P. R., whose best-kept secret remains a bay that glows in the dark.

Home by Chris Jones

Journeys don’t get much longer than this: stuck in space and waiting for a ride home

Wedding Crasher by Gideon Lewis-Kraus

The drunken wedding speeches of Georgia

Take Nothing, Leave Nothing by Simon Winchester

How I came to be banned from the world's most remote island, Tristan da Cunha


The Golden Age of Havana Is Now by Patrick Symmes

why you should go now -- before Cuba changes, while it changes, and because you will change it yourself

On Tipping in Cuba by Chris Turner

A writer discovers the uncomfortable socio-macroeconomics of the cheap beach vacation

In Pursuit of the Wild Cohiba
by Ginger Strand and James Wallenstein

The world's best cigars straight from the source.

Where Is Cuba Going?
by John Jeremiah Sullivan

"On the plane, something odd but also vaguely magical-seeming happened: nobody knew what time it was..."

Hitchhiker's Cuba by Dave Eggers

Getting to know Cuba by picking up strangers


Up in the Air by Ben Wofford

Last year, a young man walked into the Seattle airport and took the next flight to anywhere — and he hasn't come down since

Game of Thrones by David Owen

How airlines woo the one per cent

Journey Into Night by David Sedaris

"That's Business Elite for you. Spend eight thousand dollars on a ticket and, if you want an extra thirteen cents' worth of ice cream, all you have to do is ask."


Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer

The story of a young man who gave up everything to answer the call of the wild, and ended up paying the ultimate price. Into Thin Air, his account of an ill-fated expedition on Everest is also great reading.

The Lost City of Z by David Grann

The deadly search for a mythical city lost somewhere in the darkest Amazon, a magnet for generations of adventurers.

The Great Railway Bazaar by Paul Theroux

Travelling the length of Eurasia on the world's greatest railways.

My Kind of Place by Susan Orlean

"Travel Stories from a Woman Who's Been Everywhere"

The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe

The octane story of the rocket jocks who conquered space.

River Town by Peter Hessler

Two years spent living in the heart of China during a time of massive social change and cultural upheaval.

Travels In Siberia by Ian Frazier

A breathtaking account of a roadtrip through the world's most fascinating frozen wasteland.

Driving Mr. Albert by Michael Paterniti

A book length version of the excellent Harper's article -- a road trip across America with Einstein's (actual) brain.

127 Hours by Aaron Ralston

A fascinatingly shocking survival story.

See also...

150 Great Articles and Essays

The best nonfiction from around the net


Mother Earth Mother Board By Neal Stephenson

In which the hacker tourist ventures forth across the wide and wondrous meatspace of three continents. An account of the laying of the longest wire on Earth.

Heart of Dark Chocolate by Rowan Jacobsen

On the trail of an ancient strain of cacao native to the Bolivian Amazon—i.e., wild cacao, unmolested by millennia of botanical tinkering.

The Lost City of Z by David Grann

For seven decades explorers have been swallowed by the Mato Grosso region, the "green hell", trying to uncover a lost civilization hidden in the Amazon, the City of Z.

Like Butterflies in the Jungle by Damon Tabor

The quest for the new El Dorado

Forbidden by Tim Cahill

It had been said that no outsider would ever see the legendary salt mines of Mali and live to describe them...

A Good Hair Week in Mongolia by Tim Cahill

The country that gave us Genghis Khan, the Attilla the Hun Show, and possibly the first Americans is rolling out the welcome mat.

The Kingdom of the Lotus by Patrick Symmes

Six weeks, I told my wife. All the way to heaven and then home. Perhaps I would fail in some, or every, way. But one must go oneself to know the truth.

After the Fall by Tom Bissell and Morgan Meis

Unlike many cities, Saigon seemed to welcome us into its secrets, not keep them from us...

The Cold Patrol By Michael Finkel

Two young Danes find out if they're tough enough for the world's only military dogsled team.

What Goes 95 Miles Per Hour for 17 Days Straight? by Jonathan Miles

The Paris Dakar Rally, is a bone-crushing off-road race through the deepest Sahara


Death of an Innocent by Jon Krakauer

How Christopher McCandless Lost His Way in the Wild

Trapped by Aron Ralston

The amazing true survival story that inspired the film 127 Hours

What I Did on My Summer Vacation by Scott Anderson

In which three American journalists try to get a little R&R in Bosnia and accidentally almost capture the world's most-wanted war criminal

Death on the Path to Enlightenment by Scott Carney

Inside the Rise of India Syndrome

The Ghost Road by Mark Jenkins

Winding a thousand miles from India to China, the Burma Road was built to defend China in World War II, but the atomic bomb made it irrelevant and the jungle reclaimed it...

The Jerusalem Syndrome by Chris Nashawaty

Why Some visitors to the holy city believe they are the messiah

The 15 Year Layover by Michael Paterniti

For more than a decade, Merhan Nasseri lived in terminal one at Charles de Gaulle airport, waiting. For what, he doesn't know anymore...

Adventure Sports

Why We Play by Eva Holland

Doing what we love, despite the risks

Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer

I understood on some dim, detached level that it was a spectacular sight, but now that I was finally here, standing on the summit of Mount Everest, I just couldn't summon the energy to care

Unclimbable by Eva Holland

An expedition to the Cirque of the Unclimbables -- some of the toughest, most spectacular climbing in the world

The Mountain of Mountains by Kevin Fedarko

The afternoon I stumbled across the human leg bone at the bottom of K2, it was one of those flawless days you almost never see in the Karakoram

Point of No Return by Mark Jenkins

How a remote peak in Myanmar nearly broke an elite team of climbers

Everest at the Bottom of the Sea by Bucky McMahon

When the ocean liner Andrea Doria sank south of Cape Cod, she took fifty-one with her. Since then she's taken twelve more, five in the last two summers alone...

Out in the Great Alone by Brian Phillips

The Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race pushes participants to the brink on an unforgiving trek to the end of the world

Kashmiri Extremism by Kevin Fedarko

It's 4:00 a.m., and outside the fog-shrouded windows of the Kashmir Alpine Ski Shop, the Indian village of Gulmarg sleeps in the shadow of a 13,576-foot ridge that looks directly into Pakistan

The Fast Track to Dharma by Michael Paterniti

60 Degrees Straight Down, Mind the Boulders and Avalanches. A postcard from La Grave, France - alpinism's new lost horizon


How to Spend 47 Hours on a Train and Not Go Crazy by Nathaniel Rich

A surprisingly high percentage of long-distance-train passengers are escaping something...

How to Use a Squat Toilet by Frank Bures

You're sitting at a bar in the middle of Nigeria when you feel a rumble below your ribcage...

Long Day's Journey by Elizabeth Gilbert

"The way another woman might, on a first date, suddenly picture herself having a baby with the guy across the table, what I pictured was this: me and him, eating a duck's liver together in a ditch."

Magic Mountains by Tony Judt

Expressing affection for the Swiss or their country is akin to confessing nostalgia for cigarette smoking or The Brady Bunch.

Do We Transcend Before or After We Purchase the Commemorative Eel Cakes? by Susan Orlean

"Climbing Mount Fuji, where nature, religion, sport, and schlock form the most holy of alliances."