We are inundated with advice on where to travel to, but we hear little of why and how we should go, even though the art of travel seems naturally to sustain a number of questions neither so simple nor so trivial, and whose study might in modest ways contribute to an understanding of what the Greek philosophers beautifully termed eudaimonia, or ‘human flourishing’.”― Alain de Botton, The Art of Travel
Travel and Exploration.
When we began homeschooling the kids
ten fourteen years ago, I bought a book called the How To Be An Explorer of the World: A Portable Life Museum by Keri Smith.
Here is an excerpt:
How To Be An Explorer Of The World
- Always Be LOOKING (notice the ground beneath your feet.)
- Consider Everything Alive & Animate
- EVERYTHING Is Interesting. Look Closer.
- Alter Your Course Often.
- Observe For Long Durations (and short ones).
- Notice The Stories Going On Around You.
- Notice PATTERNS. Make CONNECTIONS.
- DOCUMENT Your Findings (field notes) In A VAriety Of Ways.
- Incorporate Indeterminacy.
- Observe Movement.
- Create a Personal DIALOGUE With Your Environment. Talk to it.
- Trace Things Back to Their ORIGINS.
- Use ALL of the Senses In Your Investigations.
― Keri Smith, How to Be an Explorer of the World: Portable Life Museum
I always knew that my children would grow up and travel the world as soon as they were able to. My oldest has traveled to almost thirty countries. She will be moving to Europe with her two other sisters in the Fall. My fourth has traveled back and forth from Canada, to the US, to Costa Rica – sometimes on her own. My fifth seems to always be on trips without me to places within the country with family friends, his volleyball team, and class trips.
They feel comfortable out in the world and have mastered the art of customs, security, gates, and baggage claim (best to only have a carry on). They know how to pack and how to solve problems when abroad as flights get cancelled, rerouted, and they need to adapt.
My third child is leaving home this weekend. She flies first to Austin, Texas, to participate in a pre-university Intellectual Foundations course and meets her sister (the second born) there so she isn’t alone on her birthday while travelling.
This gives me comfort. The siblings make plans to travel together, to meet up, to keep in touch. As they explore the world, they remember how to keep connected to us and to each other.
- Copy poem below (or any portion).
- Copy any of Keri Smith’s advice to explorers. (My daughter’s fave is #3.)
- Draw a map of places in your home, your neighbourhood, your country, or the world, or the known universe that one day you would like to explore closer.
From Little Gidding (No. 4 of the Four Quartets) by T.S. Eliot:
We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
Through the unknown, remembered gate
When the last of earth left to discover
Is that which was the beginning;
At the source of the longest river
The voice of the hidden waterfall
And the children in the apple-tree
Not known, because not looked for
But heard, half-heard, in the stillness
Between two waves of the sea.
Quick now, here, now, always—
A condition of complete simplicity
(Costing not less than everything)
And all shall be well and
All manner of thing shall be well
When the tongues of flame are in-folded
Into the crowned knot of fire
And the fire and the rose are one.