Ever since my first flight at seven years old, I’ve been addicted to take-offs. I still feel childish excitement while browsing the first signs written with unknown characters and inhaling the smells of the new country. Alain de Botton examines these feelings with a philosophical framework in his book “The Art of Travel”. In the end, all travelers are artists, right?

I’m obsessed with the enhanced sensations that traveling creates. I might spend hours on a porch just gazing the nature around me, listening carefully the whistles of exotic birds and how the wind blows through the trees. Chocolate bar munched in Machu Picchu becomes a divine treat, brushing teeth in a fancy outdoor bathroom in Indonesia remains a memorable event, and watching a sunset on a tropical beach makes me concentrate on every shift in the sky. For me, the main draw in traveling is alienation: in faraway places, I’m able to see ordinary life as something weird – and thus enchanting.

These enhanced experiences are close to mindfulness or meditating, but they happen naturally without any conscious effort. While traveling, ordinary things become interesting: I take pictures of street signs, menus, and inscriptions on walls; little things that might not catch my attention in more familiar environment. I feel alive and alert, every second.

How to Enhance Your Senses on the Road ­– or Back Home

“The Art of Travel” will surely deepen your perception on the act of traveling. To get most out of it, read it while on the road in the similar situations which Botton describes: at airports, on a plane, at the arrival to a new destination. Botton analyses the reasons why we travel and offers insights into how we could do it happier. The book is divided in five parts: Departure, Motives, Landscape, Art, and Return. And yes – it could be possible to enjoy the same excitement of enhanced observation at home. I’ve tried it also, but for me the thrill just isn’t the same. There seems to be no cure for my travel addiction.

Highlights of “The Art of Travel” include satisfyingly long excerpts from literary super stars, such as Baudelaire and Flaubert, along with some travel inspired paintings and photographs. While it’s not the normal beach read, you definitely don’t have to be a bookworm to enjoy it. The book is entertaining and occasionally even funny. Maybe it will even make you see traveling in a new perspective. If that’s what has happened, I’m eager to hear about it!

To sum up the mood, I’ll end with one of my favorite quotes from Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road”:

“I was surprised, as always, by how easy the act of leaving was, and how good it felt. The world was suddenly rich with possibility.”

Profound travels!

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