Wednesday, 10 August 2016


Why do we travel? To broaden our minds? To get away from ourselves and other people (or conversely to find ourselves)? To undergo rites of passage before embarking on the next stage of our lives? To celebrate our union with the planet and all its peoples? Often enough today, we travel simply because we can. Cheap and plentiful airfares have shrunk the globe, making it easier to jump on a plane and lie on a beach halfway across the world. The idea of the authentic, all-consuming ‘classic’ journey is something different though, isn’t it? Isn’t that what we really mean when we talk of travel broadening the mind? Aren’t we talking about those bygone days when we really were out of our comfort zones, when we lingered with travel? Many of the trips, voyages and expeditions we’ve collected here have little to do with tourism or travel in the modern sense. In fact, quite a few are a product of the rise of civilisation itself, when new lands were forged and new knowledge cultivated as a consequence; journeys undertaken at a time when, unlike now, most of the world was unknown and seemingly unknowable. That’s not to say that you won’t find a relaxing ocean-side drive in this article as well. Marco Polo brought back to Venice tales of lands no one had ever dreamt of, places so exotic and otherworldly that his recounting of his adventures rendered him a prophet without honour, branded a liar by his own people. 
                       As JG Ballard wrote, Marco was ostensibly the first tourist’, setting the stage for many Grand Tours and Grand Packages to come, inspiring legions of travellers to seek out new lands, to travel for travel’s sake. Many of our great journeys are the product of this adventurous spirit, of the thrill of divesting oneself of the trappings of modern life and simply experiencing the world in its in finite variety and beauty, letting the journey unfold. Each journey is epic – epic in scale, physicality, significance, or scenery, sometimes all at once. When you’ve stared down the mighty fjords and glaciers of Norway, you might think
everything else pales into insignificance. For those with a spiritual bent, the Shikoku Pilgrimage and Buddha’s odyssey are designed to achieve enlightenment and transcend earthly limitations, while Muslims undertaking the pilgrimage to Mecca believe that the journey will divest them of prior sins while showing the way to a more fulfilling life. These quests are about the desire to understand our place in the universe, and, in some ways, so are the world-beating missions from the Golden Age of exploration, which tested the claims of
unassailable and unobtainable lands because these voyagers felt that to stay at home and never try to find out what lies beyond would mean stagnation, a devolution of the human spirit rather than evolution. Today, the spirit of great exploration is not dead, merely displaced. After all, no one rides the Royal Scotsman luxury
train around the Scottish Highlands with the express intent of advancing the human race.
            Well, maybe not consciously... Nostalgia, in the case of the Scotsman and pretty much every classic train journey, is a more accurate way to describe the engine that drives such voyages, and that’s part of their own peculiar ‘greatness’ – the trains are slow and they take their time, and they can instantly transport you back to an era when much travel for pleasure was painstakingly enabled by rail. Elsewhere, curiosity is one of the strongest motivating factors. It seems hardwired into the collective consciousness, as we are essentially migratory, also social creatures and many of our great journeys were – and are – undertaken to satisfy our social, curious urges. We want to connect with other lands, other peoples, to imbibe the rituals of another culture so that we may alloy them with the things in our own world that we cherish. Other journeys are one-off s and can be admired as virtually unrepeatable achievements. Realistically, not many of us will have the where wit hall to recreate Amelia’s Earhart’s incredible plane journey around the globe, although reading about it should be no less inspirational as we recreate in our minds what it must have been like for her to travel so far and wide, and what it must have felt like to stumble at the very last hurdle. That’s the real key to this book: inspiration. Above all, we aim to instil that sense of great exploration that many feel has been buried by the modern world. Of society today, it's often said that we are ‘time poor’, that no one seems to possess the time to do anything of lasting duration, which explains the rise of ‘slow travel’, ‘slow food’ and other ‘slow’ movements designed to restore what has supposedly been leached away by a world in which everything is within easy reach.
                    Think of this article then as your own personalised guide to slow travel.You can pick and choose which journeys you will actually undertake and which you will simply read about, allowing the latter to linger in soft-focus in the imagination as wondrous feats from bygone ages. With the former, you may not be able to conquer the world like, say, Alexander the Great did, but you can certainly travel from his birthplace, Pella, in Greek Macedonia, to Alexandria in Egypt, the city he founded, savouring Alexandrian sights along the way. In recent times, there has been a rash of scientific evidence for the therapeutic value of travel. This evidence suggests that getting away from it all opens up neural pathways that help to beat stress, stave off  Alzheimer’s and produce positive and effective thinking. When overseas, the act of having to cope with a linguistic problem of translation or a confusing transport timetable forces us to think in new and unexpected ways. The thrilling disorientation of arriving in a foreign land and grappling with its mysteries and complexities seems to unlock a hidden dimension of creativity, as our brains rewire in an attempt to a acclimate. As a knock-on benefit, we are now able to solve the problems in our lives that, when we first left home, seemed insurmountable. Thousands of kilometres away, we can view them as if through the wrong end of a telescope– small and insignificant; easier to grasp, ruminate upon and solve for the perversely liberating distance that has been placed upon them. No wonder so much great literature was derived from partaking of a classic journey or two: the Shelleys on the Grand Tour; Theroux in the Pacific and on the Trans-Siberian; Stevenson in CĂ©vennes; Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. No wonder many future leaders, Che Guevara foremost, returned from their own great journey with ideas that would change the world.You might think that travelling as far and as uncomfortably as possible would increase the chances of all that happening, but positive disorientation of the kind we're talking about does not have to be achieved solely through discomfort or endurance. It can come from a confrontation with sheer beauty: the fjords; the soaring Three Gorges on the Yangtze; the indescribable magic of the Copper Canyon; the majesty of the mightiest rivers – the Nile, the Mekong, the Ganges, the Amazon.
             So, as you thumb through this article and perhaps plan a journey or two, be comforted by the thought that when you return from your adventure you’ll doubtless have confirmed what we knew all along: that by travelling – by doing it right, by foregoing convenience for substance – you’ll have become a smarter, more well-rounded human being.

Travel is the movement and that can involve travel by foot, bicycle, automobile, train, boat, airplane, or other means, with or without luggage, and can be one way or round trip. Travel can also include relatively short stays between successive movements.

The origin of the word "travel" is most likely lost to history. The term "travel" may originate from the Old French word travail. According to the Merriam Webster dictionary, the first known use of the word travel was in the 14th century. It also states that the word comes from Middle English travailen, travelen (which means to torment, labor, strive, journey) and earlier from Old French travailler. In English we still occasionally use the words travail and travails, which mean struggle.The words travel and travail both share an even more ancient root: a Roman instrument of torture called the tripalium.This link reflects the extreme difficulty of travel in ancient times. Also note the torturous connotation of the word "travailler." Today, travel may or may not be much easier depending upon the destination you choose, how you plan to get there (tour bus, cruise ship, or oxcart), and whether or not you decide to "rough it. "There's a big difference between simply being a tourist and being a true world traveler,". This is, however, a contested distinction as academic work on the cultures and sociology of travel has noted.

Travel may be local, regional, national (domestic) or international. In some countries, non-local internal travel may require an internal passport, while international travel typically requires a passport and visa. A trip may also be part of a round-trip, which is a particular type of travel whereby a person moves from one location to another and returns