Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Art of Travel” as Want to Read:
The Art of Travel
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Art of Travel

3.81  ·  Rating Details  ·  12,425 Ratings  ·  715 Reviews
Any Baedeker will tell us where we ought to travel, but only Alain de Botton will tell us how and why. With the same intelligence and insouciant charm he brought to How Proust Can Save Your Life, de Botton considers the pleasures of anticipation; the allure of the exotic, and the value of noticing everything from a seascape in Barbados to the takeoffs at Heathrow.

Even as
Paperback, 272 pages
Published May 11th 2004 by Vintage (first published 2002)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Art of Travel, please sign up.

Popular Answered Questions

Ines Depends on your english level. I find it a bit complex mostly for a young adult. It is not a light reading book for non native english speakers, in my…moreDepends on your english level. I find it a bit complex mostly for a young adult. It is not a light reading book for non native english speakers, in my opinion(less)
A Walk in the Woods by Bill BrysonBlood River by Tim ButcherInto the Wild by Jon KrakauerEat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth GilbertInto Thin Air by Jon Krakauer
Favourite Travel Books
109th out of 1,394 books — 3,106 voters
Blood River by Tim ButcherThe Kite Runner by Khaled HosseiniMemoirs of a Geisha by Arthur GoldenA Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled HosseiniThe Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Foreign Lands
420th out of 1,717 books — 1,869 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Aug 17, 2007 Soo-Ryun rated it it was ok
i couldn't put my finger on why i didn't think this book was as great as de botton's other books. but then i realized it's because of 2 reasons.

1) the focus is very euro- and christian-centric. obvo, de botton is writing about what he knows (euro intelligentsia), but perhaps a book about travelling should be about things outside your sphere of knowledge. e.g., why is it so exotic for french-speaking de botton to go to the south of france? why go to a postcolonial barbados resort and consider th
Aug 19, 2009 Ben rated it liked it
Recommended to Ben by: David Giltinan
In The Art of Travel, Alaine de Botton succeeds in the difficult task of opening the readers eyes to the many perceptual enhancements that travel can provide. It is not a travelogue of wild times in exotic countries, nor an informative list of places one can go. The Art of Travel is abstract, and focuses on concepts relating to the inner-self and individual psychology; the internal elements that affect, and are affected by, travel. Through avenues such as poetry, writings from some of histories ...more
فرقی نمی کنه موضوعی که دوباتن ازش صحبت می کنه چیه، هر چی که باشه توانایی این رو داره که من رو با اون کتاب و موضوع به وجد بیاره. شوق و ذوقی که با "هنر سیر و سفر" تجربه ش کردم یکی به دلیل پرداختن ریزبینانه ی دوباتن به موضوعی بود که همه کم و بیش به طریقی تجربه می کنند و دیگری دید خلاقانه ای بود که نویسنده برای نوشتن این کتاب انتخاب کرده بود . برای منی که عاشق سفر هستم عنوان کتاب به تنهایی بدون توجه به نام نویسنده یا فصل بندی های جذابش می تونه چشم گیرباشه و اگه این دو خصیصه رو هم اضافه کنم این جذابی ...more
Nov 23, 2015 Gordon rated it really liked it
As with all of De Botton’s books, this one is really a series of tightly crafted essays, each of which could stand on its own.

I think the key messages of the book are well captured in the very first chapter:
• Upon travelling to Barbados, de Botton wakes up the next morning and heads for the beach, then observes: “A momentous but until then overlooked fact was making itself apparent: I had inadvertently brought myself with me to the island.” As my wife occasionally remarks to me during our trave
Aug 05, 2007 David rated it really liked it
There's a certain self-effacing charm about Alain de Botton's writing that creeps up on you and which eventually becomes irresistible. Not one to shy away from big topics (love, philosophy, status, travel, Proust) he manages to bring you to fresh insights on each theme in a completely charming, highly readable fashion.

I've also seen him a few times on a BBC series about different philosophers, and the same charm is evident in person. He just seems like an altogether smart, together, sweet guy.
Jul 09, 2008 Craig rated it really liked it
My favorite read of late is Alain de Botton's “The Art of Travel.” I found this book enthralling. I couldn't put it down. Its insightful and erudite in a way that I haven't experienced since reading somewhat obscure texts for a rhetoric course in college. The book uses authors and poets and painters that we all know and love to help us think about how to fully experience our world. The book isn't really a travel tome; and I'm not sure that I learned all that much about particular destinations. I ...more
May 18, 2011 Danielle rated it did not like it
Honestly, this was a bit of a disappointment to me after reading such great reviews. I'm a traveler and while there were some ideas in this book that appealed to me, the majority of the philosophies and "ways of traveling" that were shared turned me off. Botton seems a bit arrogant and I felt he contradicted himself a number of times. Not all of us have wealthy friends in the French countryside or have the means of staying at an exclusive hotel in Barbados. In fact, I think Botton is missing out ...more
Jun 29, 2007 Eszter rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
in this lovely philosophical scrapbook, alain de botton tackles the question of why people travel. partly an eclectic collection of essays, partly a memoir, and partly a collection of historical tidbits, philosophies, works of art and found objects that de botton found cool; most people will probably find this book either pretentiously irritating or delightful. my vote goes to the latter. to qualify, i read this for the first time in the midst of a wonderful journey, so perhaps rereading it just ...more
Jul 06, 2011 Jon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very interesting little book that opened my eyes in a number of ways, and helped me to understand part of why I'm not a very good traveler. The first chapters were the least interesting for me, mostly stressing what I already knew--that "wherever you go, there you are." Don't go all over the globe looking for happiness (as Horace wrote)--changing your sky doesn't change yourself. But later on, in discussing the Lake District in England and Wordsworth (its first and most ardent admirer) de Bott ...more
Sep 06, 2014 Robin rated it it was amazing
Shelves: travel, nonfiction
I read this book. Then I thought about it. Then I went back and read it again, less thoroughly, with a pen in hand looking to further unpack and appreciate the ideas and self-reflections they provoked in me. It has taken me a long time to get around to declaring this book “finished” enough for me to write a review.

The structure of this book is deceptively simple to summarize: each chapter is a juxtaposition of de Botton’s travel accounts with brief historical essays describing a famous author, t
Parastoo sahebi
Apr 01, 2016 Parastoo sahebi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
خیلی خوب بود.دوباتن همیشه چیزی رو میگه ک ادم شدیدا دلش میخواد گفته بشه،واین بی نهایت مطلوبه : )
Mina Mottahedin
کتاب عجیب غریب بامزه ای بود.حرفهایی که زده جالبن ولی بنظرم نمیومد حرفهایی باشن که یکی بخواد کتابشون کنه! داستان های بعضا بیربطی هم به نوشته ش ربط میداد که من باز نمیفهمیدم اینها رو چرا داره میگه ولی درعین حال از خوندنش لذت هم میبردم.زبان روان و خوبی هم داشت.کلا فکر کنم از این ببعد حالم در سفرهایی که بعد از خوندن این کتاب میرم با سفرهای قبلیم فرق داشته باشه.خوندنش را توصیه میکنم بامزه س جدا.
Maria Ella
"Journeys are the midwives of thought. Few places are more conducive to internal conversations than a moving plane, ship or train. There is an almost quaint correlation between what is in front of our eyes and the thoughts we are able to have in our heads: large thoughts at times requiring large views, new thoughts new places. Introspective reflections which are liable to stall are helped along by the flow of the landscape. The mind may be reluctant to think properly when thinking is all it is s ...more
Feb 14, 2013 Ben rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Don't really know what I was expecting, maybe it was some insightful ways to get more from my travel experiences. What I got was a book of two halves. The first half can be summarised - don't get your hopes up it might be shit. I persevered. The second half was better - it ain't where you go, it's the attitude you travel with.

The author is obviously very well read (he even includes a bedroom photo complete with bookshelf as evidence), and the book is littered with quotes and tales from various
Jan 27, 2015 Theresa rated it liked it
The conclusion of the book, that we should impart a sense of travelling into our everyday lives, was a good point. And there were some beautiful insights: 'What we find exotic abroad may be what we hunger for in vain at home'. And 'A danger of travel is that we see things at the wrong time, before we have had a chance to build up the necessary receptivity and when new information is therefore as useless and fugitive as necklace beads without a connecting chain'.

But I struggled to connect with th
This book guides the reader into a deeper appreciation for aesthetics, not merely in one's travels but also in the so-called mundane daily life. Alain de Botton touches on many subjects so vital to a fruitful travel experience, from anticipation to curiosity; from the exotic to the sublime.

Each chapter is essentially an essay, and each essay is grouped by theme: departure, motives, landscape, art, return. Some are less moving than others (at least for me). The essays absolutely not-to-be-missed
May 08, 2016 Hesam rated it really liked it
در جهان هميشه بيش از آنچه انسان ها قادر به ديدن هستند ديدنى وجود دارد، مشروط بر اينكه آرام تر قدم بردارند؛ در حركت سريع بهتر نميبينند.
چيزهاى با ارزش رو بايد ديد و تعمق كرد، نه اينكه با شتاب از كنارشان عبور كرد. گلوله اى كه به سرعت ميرود لطفى ندارد، و انسان، اگر واقعا انسان است، از حركت آرام زيان نميبيند؛ چون سربلندى اش ابدا در رفتن نيست، بلكه در بودن است.
از فصل درخشان ((در باب مالكيت زيبايى)) كتاب
Sep 01, 2010 David rated it liked it
The world I look at every day is a novel in the making, but full of peripheral rubbish. The novels on my shelves are more condensed and filtered and worthy of more attention as they have been transliterated through the brains of people who actually thought for themselves and had something to say worth more than the diluted rubbish I hear during the course of the day. This is why I read books, to short-circuit the rubbish. The daily grind is just rubbish in the main, dead pools of wasted time. Li ...more
Feb 16, 2013 Alex rated it really liked it
I felt it was a valuable read for someone who is in to travelling and a definite for someone who wants to go spend all their money on travel but isn't sure why ("it's just what people do").

It helped me appreciate the beauty around me and to really focus on assessing what makes me happy, what stimulates me. By getting a better understanding of this I believe I'll be able to make better decisions on what I want to do with my life, as well as simply where I want to go.

I'd always felt I should appr
Jun 01, 2013 Anna rated it really liked it
A book that starts off invoking the Greek term eudaimonia, or human flourishing--a word I have found beauty and meaning in since college--has undoubtedly captured my attention. I have also traveled a fair amount and was curious what this account of travel would offer up as important.

I enjoyed that philosophers, artists, and writers were invited to speak as guides in each chapter, and that the narrator was both witty and profound at times. Out of the many ideas to explore about travel, I think
Oct 15, 2012 Lori rated it really liked it
Shelves: travel
I read this book in Kalaw, Myanmar, while on vacation to a wonderful and unexpected place. I enjoy de Botton's writing; when I was finishing graduate school I read The Consolations of Philosophy and it was just the right book for me then -- in the same way this was perfect timing to read this one. This book is about travel, not about destinations, so you'll find chapters on anticipation, travelling places, the exotic, curiosity, the country and the city, the sublime, eye-opening art, possessing ...more
Jul 26, 2009 Bookshop rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travel
I can't find any fault with this book and it's rare. The author describes perfectly the feelings I go through when travelling. The chapter are split into Departure, Motives, Landscape, Art, and Return.

My favourite chapter is Departure. I often wonder about the same things as I sit in the departure lounge waiting to go into my plane. The plane I am about to enter has left a distant country the day before, flies across Asia to arrive in Europe in one piece. It is about to transport me to a comple
Mar 05, 2010 Jessica rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, 2010
Like most books, The Art of Travel has its good parts and its not-so-good parts. I love that this book focuses on, ahem, the art of traveling, as in, the different little aspects that go into traveling and visiting new places. De Botton dedicates an entire chapter to the feeling of anticipation we all get when we are about to go somewhere new, and how when we arrive, without fail all our preconceived ideas about it are crushed. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, as the author rushes to explain, ...more
Feb 23, 2012 Petr rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Hezká knížka — o ničem. Příjemně se čte, máte radost z toho, jak je autor vzdělaný a kultivovaný a jak dobře formuluje (díky překladatelce formuluje moc pěkně i česky)... a nic vám z toho neutkví, ani nemáte přání si něco podtrhnout, zapsat, schovat pro příště. De Botton vás nevytáhne z vaší zóny komfortu (a sebe už vůbec ne). Na druhou stranu vám taky nepokazí náladu. Knižní ekvivalent ambientní hudby. Možná to vypadá, že bych to mohl shrnout slovem „nuda“, ale není to tak. Nuda to není. Je to. ...more
May 01, 2016 julieta rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, europa, brits
I have to confess I am not much of a traveler. I have to travel all the time, but it has never been just for the pleasure of it. I do enjoy it, but If I can choose, I prefer to stay at home.
Same thing for road trips. I am reminded of my childhood, with hours spent in the car with my family, and I really prefer not to go back to those.

So I thought this book would give me a few pointers to enjoy some of that. It did have a few things I enjoyed, it's a very light and charming read. It's not reall
Jan 07, 2015 Carrie rated it really liked it
This book was not what I expected, but I found it to be well written and thought provoking! Instead of travel tips and anecdotes, this book explored the essence of why we travel. Included were essays from famous authors about trips they had taken and their reflections. As someone who travels extensively, I found the content to be a insightful and poignant. For those who only travel occasionally for vacation, this book may not be that meaningful. For frequent travelers, this is a well crafted and ...more
Apr 20, 2016 Ploppy rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
Today one is able to go to the other end of the world in the space of several hours, tourists flock in the millions to visit great landmarks and a growing number of young would-be adventurers fill up rucksacks to wander in desolate and far away lands.

And yet, there is something not quite right about this haste to go somewhere else and then come back. Facebook recently prompted users to look on a map to see what percentage of the world they had visited, as though countries and regions were simply
Jun 14, 2015 Wsclai rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
To travel is often a simple desire to get away from the tedious everyday life but de Botton reminds me of why I go and how I can make it more fulfilling.

He writes about some of the unspoken but true aspects of travelling, e.g. the discrepancy between the enticing images of places we see from holiday brochures with what the places really look like and unpleasant experiences attached to the journey.

De Botton has articulated some of my thoughts about travelling and it calls for strong identificati
May 01, 2013 Parvathy rated it liked it
A slow and interesting meditation on why we travel, on encountering beauty and our attempts to capture it, on seeing new places and landscapes through art and books and finally on seeing the places we live in through a traveller's eyes. De Botton references art and literature on this topic liberally. A good, solid read, even if a bit ponderous.
Bing Wen
De Botton is more enamoured by the idea of travel than the actual act itself. In fact, he sometimes finds it a bother. On waking up in a hotel room in Madrid, he turns to a brochure and finds that it provokes in him “listlessness” and then “self-disgust” at such indolence. “My overwhelming wish was to remain in bed and, if possible, catch an early flight home”, he candidly admits. Having overcome this lassitude, he explores Madrid and is irritated by the fact that the Palacio Real, an 18th-centu ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Dinner with Persephone: Travels in Greece
  • The Global Soul: Jet Lag, Shopping Malls, and the Search for Home
  • The Lonely Planet Guide To Experimental Travel
  • The Travel Book: A Journey Through Every Country in the World
  • The Tao of Travel: Enlightenments from Lives on the Road
  • Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel
  • The Condé Nast Traveler Book of Unforgettable Journeys: Great Writers on Great Places
  • A Woman Alone: Travel Tales from Around the Globe
  • Abroad: British Literary Traveling Between the Wars
  • The Idle Traveller: The Art of Slow Travel
  • Tales from Nowhere
  • Trieste and The Meaning of Nowhere
  • 360 Degrees Longitude: One Family's Journey Around the World
  • Make the Most of Your Time on Earth
  • Nothing to Declare: Memoirs of a Woman Traveling Alone
  • Smile When You're Lying: Confessions of a Rogue Travel Writer
  • Travels with My Donkey: One Man and His Ass on a Pilgrimage to Santiago
  • Journeys of a Lifetime: 500 of the World's Greatest Trips
Alain de Botton is a writer and television producer who lives in London and aims to make philosophy relevant to everyday life. He can be contacted by email directly via

He is a writer of essayistic books, which refer both to his own experiences and ideas- and those of artists, philosophers and thinkers. It's a style of writing that has been termed a 'philosophy of everyday lif
More about Alain de Botton...

Share This Book

“Journeys are the midwives of thought. Few places are more conducive to internal conversations than a moving plane, ship or train. There is an almost quaint correlation between what is in front of our eyes and the thoughts we are able to have in our heads: large thoughts at times requiring large views, new thoughts new places. Introspective reflections which are liable to stall are helped along by the flow of the landscape. The mind may be reluctant to think properly when thinking is all it is supposed to do.

At the end of hours of train-dreaming, we may feel we have been returned to ourselves - that is, brought back into contact with emotions and ideas of importance to us. It is not necessarily at home that we best encounter our true selves. The furniture insists that we cannot change because it does not; the domestice setting keeps us tethered to the person we are in ordinary life, but who may not be who we essentially are.

If we find poetry in the service station and motel, if we are drawn to the airport or train carriage, it is perhaps because, in spite of their architectural compromises and discomforts, in spite of their garish colours and harsh lighting, we implicitly feel that these isolated places offer us a material setting for an alternative to the selfish ease, the habits and confinement of the ordinary, rooted world.”
“It seemed an advantage to be traveling alone. Our responses to the world are crucially moulded by the company we keep, for we temper our curiosity to fit in with the expectations of others...Being closely observed by a companion can also inhibit our observation of others; then, too, we may become caught up in adjusting ourselves to the companion's questions and remarks, or feel the need to make ourselves seem more normal than is good for our curiosity.” 102 likes
More quotes…