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Is the Journey Still More Important Than the Destination?


Planes, trains and automobiles. There are so many methods of travel, and many of us love to hate them.

Whether it be the long lines for TSA at airports, the tiny seats you have to squeeze into on the plane, or the simple anxiety of traveling with hundreds of other people who are likely just as anxious as you are, the act of getting where you’re going these days is likely to incite more headaches than a sense of adventure.

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Yet that old adage still rings out in homes across the world: that the journey is more important than the destination. The source of the phrase comes from American essayist and literary great Ralph Waldo Emerson.

But is it really true, at least in the sense of travel?

Before modern technology, centuries and millennia ago, the world seemed larger, at the very least because it took longer for travelers to get to where they needed to go. For example, someone sailing from Jerusalem to Rome during the centuries after Christ would spend about two to three weeks during the sailing season to arrive in Rome via the Mediterranean, while during the winter, when shipping stalled, they would travel on land, a journey of about two months.

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Two months. For a trip that now takes just under four hours on a non-stop flight. And we complain about long travel times!

Travel, throughout history, was also most likely a source of discomfort, anxiety and fear for the average traveler, as it much is today. Yet they had to brave the elements, rely upon the kindness of strangers, watch out for raiders and thieves and, of course, spend weeks to months simply traveling to their destination, not to mention the time spent after having arrived at their destination.

Yet often travelers also saw their travels as a means of adventure, and grew to enjoy their struggles and the experiences they couldn’t have predicted when they planned their trip. Travelers would bring along journals, especially as literacy grew around the world, to chronicle everything that happened.

Today, as we enter into what is expected to be a busy holiday season for travel around the world, consider embracing the journey, as much as you want to get to your destination as fast as possible.

It’s often during the moments when we are most uncomfortable when our true character shows itself: in how we speak and how we act towards one another. So when your flight is delayed a few hours or a snowstorm threatens a road trip, consider what your ancestors faced during their travels for perspective, and remember that your journey, however long it takes, should be just as important as your destination.


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