Cover Image: How to Travel

How to Travel

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How to Travel by The School of Life consists of short essays about traveling. The School of Life is an organization which is devoted to show people how to lead a more fulfilling life.

This is the first “School of Life” book I have read, I figured I’d get some insights since I really enjoy traveling, as oppose to just “going places”. The difference, for me, is that traveling involves meeting people, experiencing food, and different culture. Going places is basically checking off places from a list.

How to Travel by The School of Life is sometimes interesting, somewhat enlightening but mostly pretentious. It is not the travelogue we think of when we see the “Travel” tag.  There were several essays I enjoyed “What is Exotic”, “Small Pleasures”, and “Water Towers”, to name a few.

Other essays however seem to be written as an intellectual exercise, with a self-centered perspective. There are thousands of resources from many “experts” about the joys and benefits of traveling. This book is more concerned with interaction with where you go, as oppose to simply going places.
Which, as I mentioned, is traveling.

I disagree with several of the suggestions in the book, but that’s objective. For example, I don’t think it’s necessary to travel to poor and disadvantaged countries to realize how lucky you are. Just by being able to afford to travel, or someone else to cook for you (“going out”) you’re better off than the majority of the people in the world.

This book does, however, opens one’s eyes to what traveling is all about. Not just a destination, but the way one interacts with places and people they encounter.
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This is a fabulous travel companion. Having not stepped on a plane for almost twenty-four months, I felt compelled to read something about travel, hoping to spark some inspiration, so I decided on this one (thanks to NetGalley and School of Life for the copy).

How to Travel opens on an essay titled 'How to Choose a Destination.' This essay resonated with me a lot actually, because it led me to question why I, and others, make decisions about where to spend vacations. Depending on who you are, your idea of a vacation might be two weeks at a five star resort with access to an all-inclusive bar and a private beach. Or, perhaps you'd rather check into an old cottage in the Lake District and spend the week exploring craft stores, attending gin tastings, and eating at little restaurants. The School of Life states in the book, "the destination we find ourselves drawn to reflects an underlying sense of what is currently missing or under-supported in our lives."

It made a lot of sense to me.

This little book clocks in at only 132 pages, but those pages are filled with so much knowledge. I only covered a few of the essays in my review, but there's 30 in total, with room for notes and observations. Others include The Little Restaurant, Drawing Rather than Taking Photographs, and The Advantages of Staying at Home, to name a few.

I absolutely adored this little one, and it fired up the travel bug in me even more. I also found it deeply thought-provoking and I was relaying much of what I read to my partner Charlie as we starting to talk about our next trip together. We chatted mostly about our newfound appreciations of our home city and the advantages of staying home since COVID-19 hit, but we also talked in depth about choosing a destination, and many of the other things that came up for me in this book.

How to Travel is the perfect size to slip into your backpack for your next trip. It'll look lovely next to your passport, and boarding pass. This book is also an awesome gift for those in your life, whether they travel or not, since there's a lot of information about what staying at home can look like, and how that in itself is a form of travel.

Absolutely loved this and definitely recommend!
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Not what I expected it to be.
It's more like random tiny essays and thoughts than deep questions about the future of travel, economic and ecological issues. 
I'm usually a fan of the School of Life books and essays, but this was way too shallow a view about the complex topic of travelling.
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An interesting little book with short, thought-provoking chapters on many aspects of travel.

I expected it to all be about the joys of travel, and there are some chapters covering that: but this book is so much more:  encouraging you consider what travel is, why we travel, what we should do when we travel, whether we should travel.....and much more.

It's the sort of book you can read through the first time in an hour or so, but be tempted to go back and dip in to different chapters again and again.

This the first book I've had from The School of Life, and now I'd like to read more!
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A book for travellers not tourists, little stories of places, people, experiences and peace to feed the soul. Travelling is a journey and every part of the journey needs to be enjoyed, even the airport. Can imagine the author writing beautiful journals to extract just a few of these musings to put into this book. Absolutely loved it and have read it twice. Thank you #NetGalley and #TheSchoolOfLife for the copy to review.
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How To Travel is a series of mini-chapters, each flagging up typical moments of pleasure often experienced but too soon passed over. Focusing on how we chose our travel destinations, what we do when we get there and how to process the trip, become a series of attention-forming techniques, aiming to exercise our ‘best self’ so it can rise above the daily round of concern, distraction and busy-ness. The writing is elegantly precise, the tone is sympathetic and reassuringly optimistic. 

The School of Life specialise in producing books that deal with everyday activities in  just this consoling manner. They reassure us that to err is human and even in erring we are probably not very far from the path to a richer experience of life. It’s all very kindly, even courteous and elegant. The writing evokes a world where polite concern and attentive perceptiveness are always at hand. Like a supportive teacher suggesting if we just try it like ‘this’ then you will find your natural talent is set free.

Attention lies at the heart of it. Sherlock Holmes challenged Dr Watson to say how many steps there were to their front door. Like us, Watson never noticed such trivial things and lived a life of baffled inattention. F.R. Leavis’ entire school of criticism boils down to pay attention (or better yet, to attend to how we apply our attention). 

Don’t expect to learn new facts or holiday hacks. It’s not about new information or skills, just pointing up the habits and activities you will already do and encouraging you to repeat and cultivate them with a bit more attention - allow yourself to be happy in doing so. This is learning to be more like your ‘best self’ (a Matthew Arnold bit of phrasing that is much-repeated). On this level, and its a pretty good level to be at, this is a great book to which I will happily return.
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I love this book on the philosophy of traveling alone.  I was absolutely riveting by the essays.  I highly recommend this book.
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