Apps, state-of-the-art gadgetry and online travel-planning tools galore — we moderns think we have the monopoly on travel savvy. Tech may have a hand in guiding us through our wanderings, but the ancients have much to teach us about enjoying our vacations to the max.
What: “Wherever you go, go with all your heart.”
Who: Chinese teacher, politician, and philosopher Confucius
About Confucius: Born into the shi class (between commoners and aristocracy) in 551 BC, Confucius rose to the position of Minister of Crime in the Lu bureaucracy. Eventually going into self-imposed exile, he spent 12 years journeying around the principality states of northeast and central China, spreading his political beliefs.
Also said: “It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.”
What: “Men who wish to know about the world must learn about it in its particular details.”
Who: Greek philosopher Heraclitus.
About Heraclitus: Best known for his insistence on continual change as the essence of the universe, the philosopher was born circa 535 B.C. in Ephesus (modern-day Turkey) but according to the biographer Diogenes ended his days “wandering the mountains … making his diet of grass and herbs.”
Also said: “If you do not expect the unexpected you will not find it, for it is not to be reached by search or trail.”
What: “A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.”
Who: Taoism founder Lao Tzu (Laozi).
About Lao Tzu: Generally thought to have lived in the 6th-century B.C., this Chinese philosopher and writer — considered a deity by some and a figure of pure legend by others — has numerous stories attached to his name. In one, he left the kingdom of Chengzhou to live as a hermit in an unsettled frontier, in another he traveled a vast distance to India, where he taught the Buddha.
Also said: “A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving.”
What: “It is better to travel well than to arrive.”
Who: Siddhārtha Gautama, the Buddha
About Buddha: The ascetic and sage whose teachings form the basis of Buddhism, the Buddha is believed to have lived in the eastern region of ancient India at some point between the 6th and 4th centuries B.C. After his awakening and training, he traveled the Gangetic Plain for 45 years, teaching everyone from nobles and servants to murderers and cannibals.
Also said: “You cannot travel the path until you have become the path itself.”
What: “The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.”
Who: Early-Christian theologian and philosopher St. Augustine of Hippo
About St. Augustine: Born in A.D. 354 to a Berber family, Augustine became bishop of Hippo Regius in North Africa and one of Western Christianity’s most significant Church Fathers. His career took him to Carthage, and from there to Roman and then Milan.
Also said: “Men go abroad to wonder at the heights of mountains, at the huge waves of the sea, at the long courses of the rivers, at the vast compass of the ocean, at the circular motions of the stars, and they pass by themselves without wondering.”
What: “The journey is the thing.”
Who: Ancient Greek poet Homer
About Homer: With a biography shrouded in mystery and speculation, Homer is best known as the author of the epic poem The Odyssey, which describes the decade-long homeward journey of Odysseus, king of Ithaca, after the fall of Troy. The events his crew encounter en route include being captured by the Cyclops Polyphemus and being ambushed by the six-headed monster Scylla.
Also said: “A man who has been through bitter experiences and travelled far enjoys even his sufferings after a time.”
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Story by Rhonda Carrier.
One of the UK’s leading family travel experts, Rhonda regularly writes on travel for publications and brands around the world.