The Art of Travel Book Summary - The Art of Travel Book explained in key points
Listen to the Intro

The Art of Travel summary

Learn how to get the most out of your next travel adventure

4.1 (121 ratings)
22 mins

Brief summary

The Art of Travel by Alain De Botton is a philosophical exploration of why we travel and what we hope to gain from it. The book encourages us to look at travel as a means of self-discovery and personal growth.

Table of Contents

    The Art of Travel
    Summary of 8 key ideas

    Audio & text in the Blinkist app
    Key idea 1 of 8

    Dreams of travel are often quite different from actual trips, in part because you can't travel away from yourself.

    Human life is often one long quest for happiness, and the means to this often elusive end are myriad. Some turn to money; others, to love. Still others seek happiness and meaning in travel.

    But the reality of travel often has little in common with the vague fantasies that first inspire one to hit the road, a disparity that’s nicely captured in A Rebours, a French novel written by Joris-Karl Huysmans in 1884.

    The book’s protagonist, the Duke of Esseintes, is a recluse and a misanthrope; he despises the society of his local village and spends his days holed up in his room, reading classic literature.

    But his reading inspires him to reenter the world. The duke reads Charles Dickens, whose vivid descriptions of foggy London fill him with a longing to see the famous city. Soon, he packs his bags and sets forth.

    While still in Paris, to kill time before his train leaves for the first leg of the trip to London, the protagonist enters an English bookstore and purchases a London guidebook. Still full of his London enthusiasm, he then goes to an English tavern, teeming with swarthy British maids and smelling of beer and meat.  

    But all this premature Britishness takes the wind out of the duke’s sails. When the time comes to board the train to London, he is utterly worn out. So, instead of facing the inconveniences of train travel – dashing to the station, finding a porter, sleeping in a compartment, standing in lines – he returns home, never to embark on another journey again for the rest of his days.

    The disappointments of travel certainly aren’t limited to fiction, and they affect people in the twenty-first century as much as they did those in the nineteenth.

    For starters, travel isn’t the best way to escape from your problems, because wherever you go – well, there you’ll be.

    The author once went to Barbados. He’d been looking forward to an escape from his day-to-day routine, some time to relax and release. But when he got there, he couldn’t simply relax and enjoy the gorgeous scenery or the scrumptious fresh fruit; rather, he felt melancholic and anxious, just as he had back home in London.

    Actual travel is usually far less glamorous than the dreams one has of it. But traveling still has a world of wonders to reveal – it’s just about adjusting our modern approach to it.

    Want to see all full key ideas from The Art of Travel?

    Key ideas in The Art of Travel

    More knowledge in less time
    Read or listen
    Read or listen
    Get the key ideas from nonfiction bestsellers in minutes, not hours.
    Find your next read
    Find your next read
    Get book lists curated by experts and personalized recommendations.
    Shortcasts New
    We’ve teamed up with podcast creators to bring you key insights from podcasts.

    What is The Art of Travel about?

    The Art of Travel (2002) is an unorthodox guide to traveling. Unlike conventional travel guides, Alain de Botton’s book is more of a philosophical globe-trotter’s handbook, exploring the reasons behind our urge to discover new places and offering some general tips for making travel more enjoyable.

    The Art of Travel Review

    The Art of Travel (2002) by Alain De Botton offers insightful reflections on the nature of travel and why we embark on journeys. Here's why this book is definitely worth reading:

    • It explores the powerful connection between travel and self-discovery, revealing how our inner thoughts and emotions shape our experiences in unfamiliar places.
    • Taking inspiration from history, art, and literature, the book provides a fresh perspective on famous landmarks and encourages readers to see beyond the surface of tourist attractions.
    • With its thought-provoking ideas and unique blend of philosophy and travel narratives, the book captivates readers, making the exploration of new destinations anything but boring.

    Best quote from The Art of Travel

    It seems we may best be able to inhabit a place when we are not faced with the additional challenge of having to be there.

    —Alain De Botton
    example alt text

    Who should read The Art of Travel?

    • Avid travelers
    • Culture vultures
    • Aspiring authors and freelance journalists eager to work while on the move

    About the Author

    Alain de Botton is a philosopher of the everyday. The author of numerous best-selling books, he’s tackled subjects from love to architecture, and from Proust to travel. He is also a cofounder of The School of Life, a London-based institution that strives to develop new forms of education.

    Categories with The Art of Travel

    Book summaries like The Art of Travel

    People ❤️ Blinkist 
    Sven O.

    It's highly addictive to get core insights on personally relevant topics without repetition or triviality. Added to that the apps ability to suggest kindred interests opens up a foundation of knowledge.

    Thi Viet Quynh N.

    Great app. Good selection of book summaries you can read or listen to while commuting. Instead of scrolling through your social media news feed, this is a much better way to spend your spare time in my opinion.

    Jonathan A.

    Life changing. The concept of being able to grasp a book's main point in such a short time truly opens multiple opportunities to grow every area of your life at a faster rate.

    Renee D.

    Great app. Addicting. Perfect for wait times, morning coffee, evening before bed. Extremely well written, thorough, easy to use.

    People also liked these summaries

    4.7 Stars
    Average ratings on iOS and Google Play
    32 Million
    Downloads on all platforms
    10+ years
    Experience igniting personal growth
    Powerful ideas from top nonfiction

    Try Blinkist to get the key ideas from 7,500+ bestselling nonfiction titles and podcasts. Listen or read in just 15 minutes.

    Start your free trial

    The Art of Travel FAQs 

    What is the main message of The Art of Travel?

    The main message of The Art of Travel is to find beauty and meaning in our journeys, both physical and mental.

    How long does it take to read The Art of Travel?

    The reading time for The Art of Travel varies depending on the reader's speed, but it typically takes several hours. The Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is The Art of Travel a good book? Is it worth reading?

    The Art of Travel is worth reading because it offers insightful reflections on travel and our perception of the world.

    Who is the author of The Art of Travel?

    The author of The Art of Travel is Alain de Botton.

    What to read after The Art of Travel?

    If you're wondering what to read next after The Art of Travel, here are some recommendations we suggest:
    • How to Travel the World on $50 a Day by Matt Kepnes
    • The Architecture of Happiness by Alain de Botton
    • How Proust Can Change Your Life by Alain de Botton
    • Vagabonding by Rolf Potts
    • The School of Life by Alain de Botton and The School of Life
    • The 3-Minute Rule by Brant Pinvidic
    • The Humor Habit by Paul Osincup
    • How to Be Alone by Sara Maitland
    • Forgiving What You Can't Forget by Lysa TerKeurst
    • The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck by Sarah Knight