Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A Letter to a Young Traveller

If you want to read all the Tips and posts on this (There will be at least 4, then click HERE.)

Many years ago, I penned some thoughts for a young man who was about to travel overseas. He was a young guy who saw travel as an answer to his yearnings and difficulties. He had just bought the tickets, was planning the adventure, and he was dreaming of the possibilities that lay ahead for him.

I realised as we spoke that I'd asked dozens of people if they had 'planned for their travel', and they invariably said Yes. I had asked: what are your plans? And they spoke only of their itinerary, rather than a plan to grow as a Christian and as a person.

I wrote to him to readdress that imbalance.

You will see that some of my advice concurs with the thoughts of Alain de Botton, from The Art of Travel. He says:
Aside from love, few things attract more longing the prospect of a holiday. During the ordinary working months, exhausted by our jobs, and family routines, wearied by the weather, the holidays stand out on the horizon of our frayed lives, as an oasis of happiness and repose.

And yet the business of going on holiday is rarely talked about apart from a bluntly practical point of view. There is no end of talk about where we should go. What gets less attention is ‘why’? What are we searching for? How much do our travels measure up to the longings that inspired them?

I decided that I’d try to find happiness there (in the Mediterranean). Everything was exactly as the brochure had promised. But there was one thing that wasn’t as I had hoped. But this wasn’t something that I could complain to anyone about.

At the middle of Day 1, a troubling realization began to dawn on me.

That I had inadvertently brought myself along with me.

Would you like to read that correspondence?

They are 'Ten Tips for Travel' and 'Ten Reasons not to give for Travel'.

Pic on Flickr by stoopwafels.


Matthew Moffitt said...


Mrs. W said...


"I had inadvertently brought myself along with me."

I've definitely had that realization before when traveling. Just when I thought I could escape it all and start afresh... :)

Mikey Lynch said...

great stuff! thanks so much.

Jo N Jules said...

In my own christian life, the lure of distance has been something I have struggled with immensely for the last 5 years (and one my husband still continues to point out I struggle with) and I concur with the thoughts of de Botton. The conclusion I came to (and still struggle with) after much prayer and reading bible is a similar conclusion that we travel for the sublime, the exotic, the art-driven, the nature, the lonliness, part of the lure of distance is our discontent at home and discontent with what God has given and not seeing the beauty in what is around us.

Those in Sydney (like me) should be quite ashamed - particularly on this beautiful sunny day with the harbour glistening alluringly.

And reading your tips (like the not writing to make envy) does point out that the lure of distance is also about our vanity and pride.

Thanks for your great blog! I will hopefully get to a Thursday talk soon.