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The Art of Travel

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  20,935 ratings  ·  1,365 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.

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Paperback, 272 pages
Published May 11th 2004 by Vintage (first published May 2nd 2002)
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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)
Kuldeep Sharma As a traveler, I can say the title of this book is impressive? I would like to read this book during an adventure tour like…moreAs a traveler, I can say the title of this book is impressive? I would like to read this book during an adventure tour like
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Aug 17, 2007 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
Jun 04, 2009 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
Ahmad Sharabiani
The Art of Travel, Alain de Botton
Aside from love, few actvities seem to promise us as much happiness as going traveling: taking off for somewhere else, somewhere far from home, a place with more interesting weather, customs, and landscapes. But although we are inundated with advice on where to travel, few people seem to talk about why we should go and how we can become more fulfilled by doing so. In The Art of Travel, Alain de Botton, author of How Proust Can Change Your Life, explores what the
Apr 12, 2009 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
Jan 09, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
May 11, 2011 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. I think Botton is missing out on the t ...more
It's not you book, it's me.

In truth, if this wasn't such an easy read that I could complete it in a day, I wouldn't have bothered, and it would another to my, admittedly quite minimal, DNF shelf.

As it was, it was a quick read, although it was a book I made no connection with. I should have known better, really, especially after whole Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance failure. Philosophy: not something I read well. Especially airy fairy philosophy, philosophy which treats a great love -
Jul 05, 2007 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.
Emma Sea
Life goal: write like this.
Jul 09, 2008 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
Jun 29, 2007 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
May 13, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy, essay, travel
This book is a series of essays that examine certain aspects of the travel experience through the thoughts of philosophers and great thinkers. For those who travel for excitement and stimulation, this is not the book for you. Rather this is for the introspective traveler. It encourages travelers to slow down and take greater notice of the world around them and to pay less attention to the hype of guidebooks. The sections I particularly liked were the sections on art. There's a chapter that featu ...more
Jan 02, 2013 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
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
Jul 06, 2011 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
Mar 01, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 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 ex ...more
Chin Hwa
Jul 30, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
This is such a jewel of a book. My life as I was reading it mirrored its content and message. I bought it in Greenwich VIllage, New York, and read it on buses, planes, trains, finishing it in a hotel lobby at the Toronto Pearson Airport.

There are so many books out there on where to travel, but this book is all about HOW to travel and WHY. It's got enough philosophical nuggets to make you think about travel in a new way.

One of my favourite bits was the chapter on 'Possessing Beauty' - how we ge
Feb 12, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I won't say this is a bad book. I will say, though, that I didn't connect with it and didn't enjoy it. While the author is smart and thoughtful, he comes across as an anxious intellectual fixated on European destinations and dead-white-male literary inspirations. (Seriously: there's not a single non-white non-male among the artists and thinkers he cites as "travel guides.") And, based on what he shares about his experiences with hotels, resorts, and guided tours, his approach to travel seems con ...more
Book Concierge
Any travel guide will tell us where we should travel and what we should see when we get there. Alain de Botton tries to tell us WHY we should travel.

In various chapters he expounds on what it is that travel offers us. From new experiences to wonders (small and large), from expanding our cultural references, to finding the familiar in a completely foreign location. He waxes poetic on the anticipation of arriving at a new location, the marvels of modes of transportation, on “country” vs “city,” on
Actual rating 3.5

It was definitely a good choice of book to bring on my trip to Australia, even if it took me a while to read and at times it was difficult to focus - but I have truly benefited from these ruminations and examinations already.
Alain de Botton writes fluidly and precisely, there are many on point descriptions that fitted my travel experiences to a t and I made sure to highlight and annotate my copy as a memory.

I loved the chapter featuring a lot of van Gogh and also the Ruskin-he
Oct 15, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: essays, 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 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 16, 2013 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
Heidi The Reader
Feb 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, travel
Alain de Botton takes traveling and elevates it to a life changing experience in this book. He gives words to all of the annoyances but potentially world view shattering moments that one encounters while away from home. Through historical examples and his own travels, de Botton instructs the reader how to view, draw, and appreciate the mundane to the sublime.

I would recommend this to anyone who is planning a trip, has taken a trip, or is unwilling to take a trip for whatever reason. The Art of T
Aug 01, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy
Advice, guidance and suggestions for expanding the ability to enjoy the experience of travel, drawn from diverse eminent sources such as Ruskin, sensitively couched in the comforting admissions of a fellow-sufferer.
Rebecca Alcazaze
Having very much enjoyed De Botton’s ‘How Proust Can Change Your Life’, a book I found hilarious despite knowing very little about Proust at the time, I was excited to read this.

I like slightly cynical writers who are happy to show that they aren’t easily swept up into flights of misplaced sentimental enthusiasm, but I found De Botton sucking the joy out of a variety of things, myself included, for much of this book.

The message is clear: travel is great but try to appreciate your everyday world
Stephanie Jane
Jun 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: travel
See more of my book reviews on my blog, Literary Flits

I hadn't read philosophy for ages so am happy to have been able to borrow a trio of Alain De Botton books for a friend. The first, Status Anxiety, was interesting, but didn't speak directly about my lifestyle. This second book, The Art Of Travel, is absolutely on the money! De Botton explores attitudes to travel through the eyes of a number of historical thinkers and writers including Wordsworth, Van Gogh, Huysmans and, finally someone whose
Oct 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I bought this book in 2010 and have made numerous futile attempts to actually read it. Every time I would get to the description of the red door on an Amsterdam canal, I began wondering why I was wasting my time reading the exact thoughts I would randomly think while walking along a canal in Amsterdam trying to kill the evening of an otherwise busy business trip.

In 2020, however, I finally caught on to why I would want to read this. Having come home from a great and inspiring work-related trip
Mohamad Hosein  Eqbali
Jul 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
Some great tips and how-to's on why and how to travel, rather than where to. Useful for the average traveler and pleasant for the non-average ones. ...more
Oct 07, 2014 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
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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 li

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“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.” 153 likes
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