To look at something familiar and see it anew; this is the defining characteristic of a curious mind.
It is also the premise of Alain de Botton’s new edition of his iconic bestseller, ‘The Art of Travel, which he has re-released in partnership with Penguin Books and Airbnb.
‘The New Art of Travel’, comes complete with a foreword from Airbnb Co-Founder and CEO, Brian Chesky, as well as an inspiring introduction from de Botton himself. It is in this new chapter that Alain conjures up an even more thought-provoking insight into what has become the most universally sought-after pursuit of the modern age; travel. Exploration, adventure and personal transformation.
Yet Alain views travel and exploration differently to that of modern perceptions. He suggests that travel should evolve from its current mass produced search for the whitest sprawling beach to lay your towel on. Instead, travel should be an answer to the call to marry the outer journey with our inner needs.
“All of us are involved in what could be termed ‘an inner journey’: that is we’re trying to develop in particular ways. We might be searching for how to be calm or how to find a way to rethink our goals…where we go should help us with our attempts at these steps in our psychological evolution. The outer journey should assist us with the inner one.”
“For this to happen, we need to be clearer in our minds about both what we’re searching for inside and what the outer world could conceivably deliver for us. Every destination we might alight upon contains with it qualities…that could conceivably support one step or another on a person’s inner journey.”
So while it is often curiosity that motivates us to explore – to travel to destinations unknown and see the unseen – we need to look deeper. Like the 67 per cent of people who take a trip as a way to overcome daily stresses. Rather than looking for a nice looking pool to lie by, de Botton suggests a trip to ‘one of the most philosophical entities on earth’, The Western Australian Desert. For there, we can appreciate the age and scale of just one part of the world, and help bring perspective back to our otherwise chaotic, harassed lives.
Alain also considers a range of motives for travel and destinations that might address the most common motives for seeking destinations unknown:
- Anxiety: Pefkos Beach, Rhodes
- Dissatisfaction: Comuna 13, San Javier, Medellin, Colombia
- Inhibition: Corner shop, Kanagawaken, Yokohama
- Snobbery: Pumping Station, Isla Mayor, Seville
- Impermeance: Eastown Theatre, Detroit
- Thinking: Capri Hotel, Changi Airport, Singapore
- Relationships: Cafe de Zaak, Utrecht
- Stress: The Western Australian Desert
In addition to the destination, once we have arrived Alain urges us to retain some of the curiosity that helped get us there in the first place. He urges us to find our own way rather than getting lost among the guidebooks and bobbing throngs of fellow tourists. He suggests that we stop gawking at museums and monuments. That we start rediscovering our instinctive desire to form genuine human connections and to experience a place real and unspoiled. And to experience culture in its truest sense, we must immerse ourselves amongst real people.
That is what ‘The New Art of Travel’ is; a reminder to think about where – and why – we travel to make sure that we are going to the places we as individuals need to go.
“Because,” as Airbnb CEO, Brian Chesky, affirms in the book’s foreword: “travel has never really been about where you go. It’s about the person you’ve become when you return.”
Airbnb and Alain de Botton’s ‘The New Art of Travel’ is published by Penguin Books and goes on sale 11 August on http://www.