Mark Twain on Travel

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.” (American author Mark Twain, The Innocents Abroad).

Have you had the opportunity to travel (extensively, within your country, or even once abroad)? Can you relate to Twain’s sentiments? How does travel enrich us? Any thoughts on The Innocents Abroad? I’d be curious to read it!

6 thoughts on “Mark Twain on Travel

  1. Grazyna, you make a great point. Travel not only introduces us to new places, food, art, but it also enables us to meet new people. I cannot agree more when you say, “what seemed strange and foreign will help you see it as simply…different and enriching.” As Twain insinuated without travel (or at least taking the time to read and learn), people can fall into the trap of narrow-mindedness.

  2. Ohhhh, ohhhhh, ohhhhh Mr. Twain! One cannot but love you! And I do. As many of us know, Mark Twain did not suffer fools gladly, never shied away from expressing his opinions and had unparalled skils of social observation. All this plus his quick wit, auto irony and humor makes him unique and a joy to read.
    Talking about reading, I agree with Nicolette that it opens the world of experience to you even if you cannot, or are not inclined to travel. For me reading was a prelude to the future travels as I grew up in the times of socialism in Poland. Our passports were locked up at the police station, and only happy few were allowed to leave the country (under a scrutiny of secret service). Many years later, having lived in three different countries and cultures, and having had opportunity to travel for business and pleasure extensively, I can honestly say that I will continue to travel as long as I can. It simply became a way of life for me.
    It’s not so much (or only) about the new sights, smells, food and art – it’s about people. The length of my comment gives me away! Yes, words do come easy to me! But the most intense and thrilling moments during my travels are contacts with others on the road and the locals.
    No book knowledge will ever substitute deeper understanding of their ways than that gained in face to face conversations. And believe me, when you learn how to listen, people will tell you interesting stories. Suddenly what seemed strange and foreign will help you see it as simply….different and enriching.
    So, fellow travelers, both – you with a luggage and tickets, and those who read, understand and travel in your dreams, UNITE!

  3. Oh, I can certainly relate to keeping to your own daily rituals, and not wanting to deal with jet lag! Reading about travel, or keeping updated on news, allows us to expand our horizons even more. If travel itself isn’t an option, reading has a wonderful quality of transporting you somewhere without physically removing you from your current location.

  4. I haven’t traveled much and now that I’m older, resist the idea because, you know, you have your little rituals and traveling interferes with them (plus the discomfort of the biological clock out of whack and jet lag). I can see though how those rituals make me rigid. Traveling would help to unlock those chains.

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