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Travel with a donkey, a horse and Dave Barry of course

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Published on: Thursday, April 04, 2013

By Llewellyn Toulmin

I have been writing about the wonders of travel for ten years at The Montgomery Sentinel, and I am clearly a travel nut.  But I understand that not everyone is keen on travel.  This month I will explore the negative side of the question, by seeing what experts, writers, pundits and explorers throughout the ages have said against travel.   

Some experts think that travel is just no fun at all.

“Travel is glamorous only in retrospect” -- Paul Theroux

“The road is dusty, the air is sultry, the horses are sluggish…the inn is crowded, his orders neglected…the best is always worse than he expected.”  -- Samuel Johnson

“If all difficulties were known at the outset of a long journey, most of us would never start out at all.” -- Dan Rather

“Thanks to the interstate highway system, it is now possible to travel from coast to coast without seeing anything.” – Charles Kuralt

Others wonder, why one should travel when home is better for achieving enlightenment?

“Without stirring abroad, one can know the whole world; without looking out of the window one can see the way of heaven. The further one goes the less one knows.”  -- Lao-Tzu

“As the Spanish proverb says, ‘He who would bring home the wealth of the Indies, must carry the wealth of the Indies with him.’ So it is in travelling; a man must carry knowledge with him, if he would bring home knowledge.”  -- Samuel Johnson

“Paradise is where I am.”  -- Voltaire

Some say, why travel when it will spoil your home for you?

“Travelling is the ruin of all happiness! There's no looking at a building here after seeing Italy.”

-- Fanny Burney

“Traveling makes a man wiser, but less happy.”  -- Thomas Jefferson

And after all, why travel when you won’t really benefit from it?

“Behold then Septimus Dodge returning to Dodge-town victorious. Not crowned with laurel, it is true, but wreathed in lists of things he has seen and sucked dry. Seen and sucked dry, you know: the Venus de Milo, the Rhine or the Coliseum: swallowed like so many clams, and left the shells.” --  D. H. Lawrence

“If an ass goes traveling, he'll not come home a horse.”  -- Thomas Fuller

Should you travel, when you won’t like the company, you’ll be despised as a tourist, and you’ll just bring back bad habits?

“But why, oh why, do the wrong people travel, when the right people stay at home?” --

Noel Coward

“The worst thing about being a tourist is having other tourists recognize you as a tourist.” --

Russell Baker

“Italy, the paradise of the earth and the epicures’ heaven, how doth it form our young master?  From thence he brings the art of whoring, the art of poisoning, and the art of sodomitry.”  -- Thomas Nashe, 1594

Why travel when there is serious work to do at home?

“Travel is the frivolous part of serious lives, and the serious part of frivolous ones.” --

Anne Sophie Swetchine

Cruising and sea travel are particularly onerous.  

“The ocean has the conscienceless temper of a savage autocrat spoiled by much adulation.” --

Joseph Conrad

“Life on board a pleasure steamer violates every moral and physical condition of healthy life except fresh air...It is a guzzling, lounging, gambling, dog's life. The only alternative to excitement is irritability.” -- George Bernard Shaw

"On a voyage, with its eternal monotonies, people's intellects deteriorate...The mind gradually becomes inert, dull, blunted; it loses its accustomed interest in intellectual things; nothing but horse-play can rouse it." -- Mark Twain

“Ocean racing is like standing under a cold shower tearing up five pound notes.” --  Prime Minister Edward Heath

"Being in a ship is being in a jail, with the chance of being drowned." -- Samuel Johnson

Ah, but air travel is worse.

“The Hawaiian Islands were discovered by hardy Polynesian sailors, who crossed thousands of miles of open ocean in primitive canoes, braving violent storm-tossed seas for months at a time. My family and I arrived by modern commercial aviation, which was infinitely worse.” -- Dave Barry

“The scientific theory I like best is that the rings of Saturn are composed entirely of lost airline luggage.” -- Mark Russell

“Flying is hours and hours of boredom sprinkled with a few seconds of sheer terror.” –  Col. ''Pappy'' Boyington

“To me, an airplane is a great place to diet.”  -- Wolfgang Puck

“I like terra firma; the more firma, the less terra.” -- George S. Kaufman

And finally, why travel when you might get lost?

“I’ve never been lost, but I will admit to being a mite confused for a few weeks.” -- Daniel Boone

“You got to be careful if you don't know where you're going, because you might not get there.” -- Yogi Berra

Of course, not everyone agrees.

“All that is gold does not glitter; all those who wander are not lost.”  --  J. R. R. Tolkien

* * *

Lew Toulmin lives in Silver Spring, and has traveled to 140 countries.  He is currently working in the Prime Minister’s Office of the Republic of Vanuatu, in the southwest Pacific.

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