Why We Travel: Patricia Schultz Answers

The Camino de Compostela, Spain. Suzanne Kremer/Huber photo
The Camino de Compostela, Spain. Suzanne Kremer/Huber photo

Why We Travel Gives Us 100 Great Answers

Patricia Schultz is famous for her book, 1000 Places to See Before You Die.  Her newest travel book answers the question of why we go to the bother of traveling, and she came up with just 100 excellent answers.book cover

Why We Travel  is filled with personal stories and anecdotes, quotes that inspire, and reasons to motivate–plus images so lush you can’t wait to be there.

For years Patricia Schultz has been telling us where to travel, and we love listening.

Now, in telling us why to travel, she reveals what makes her such a compelling guide and what makes travel such a richly rewarding experience.

There’s the time she was on safari in Zambia yet found her most lasting memory in a classroom of five-year-olds.

The comedy of mishaps that she and friends endured on a canal trip through southern France—and how it brought them together in an unexpected way.

She quotes favorite authors and luminaries on the importance of travel and, in a series of memorable aphorisms, gets to the essence of why to travel. And gives us a few travel hacks, too.

Travel is, as the writer Pico Iyer says, the thing that causes us to “stay up late, follow impulse, and find ourselves as wide open as when we are in love.”

Why We Travel is all about rekindling that feeling. Just book a ticket, pack a bag, and dive headlong into an adventure.

Excerpt from Why We Travel:  Hiking to Compostela

“For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.”—Robert Louis Stevenson, about Northern Spain.

It’s better to travel than to arrive.I had never attempted a long-distance, multi-day hike before, but the thought of escaping the demands of my day-to-day world and having time to reflect and connect with nature appealed to me.

After months of training to be ready for what lay ahead, I set off on El Camino de Santiago (Way of St. James),the thousand-year-old pilgrimage trail that traces its way over the Pyrenees mountains in France tonorthwestern Spain.

Not having the five weeks needed to complete the full five-hundred-mile route, I started out one hundred miles from the final destination: the city of Santiago de Compostela.

Each day was spent walking through rich farmland, undulating vineyards, and medieval towns and across ancient stone bridges, often with modern-day pilgrims who had come from all corners of the globe.

There was a Dutch mother and her twelve-year-old son; a Moroccan professor from Rabat; a priest from Lourdes, returning for his eighth Camino. We exchanged recommendations for inns, remedies for sore feet, and the stories behind our decisions to follow this sacred trail.

I welcomed the company but also each opportunity to walk alone, grateful for the chance to pause and think about what matters most—and least. I felt both elated and a little sad as we approached the final stretch.

The Camino was the journey I didn’t know I needed, where a map and a destination were all that I required—in a corner of the world where not much has changed in one thousand years.

Machu Picchu Skouatroulio/iStock

Excerpt: Machu Picchu Altitude

“Every now and then a man’s mind is stretched by a new idea or sensation, and never shrinks back to its former dimensions.”—Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr, Machu Picchu, Peru

Do the difficult things first. I thought I could handle being eleven thousand feet above sea level, but my achy head was telling me otherwise. The next day I was to visit legendary Machu Picchu, the “Lost City of the Incas,” and I needed to acclimate.

Sitting in the lobby of my hotel in Cusco, on my third cup of coca-leaf tea (a traditional treatment for high-altitude symptoms), I met Edith from Atlanta, who, at age ninety, was on her first international trip.

Machu Picchu. Skouatroulio/iStock photo
Machu Picchu. Skouatroulio/iStock photo

She was soon recounting how family hardships as a young girl had forced her to dropout of school early and take the only work she could find, as a washerwoman.

Marriage and a growing family had filled her days, then decades, until recently, when, to celebrate her birthday, her five children had chipped in to send her and her husband of seventy years to a place they had always dreamed about.

Now here she was, the proud owner of a passport, and Peru was her inaugural stamp. “You’ve got to do the demanding places first,” she confided with a smile. “Your knees have expiration dates.”


patricia schultz

Patricia Schultz is the author of the #1 New York Times bestsellers 1,000 Places to See Before You Die and 1,000 Places to See in the United States and Canada Before You Die. A veteran travel journalist with over 30 years of experience, she’s written for Frommer’s, Berlitz, and Access travel guides, as well as the Wall Street Journal, Condé Nast Traveler, and Travel Weekly, where she is a contributing editor.  Her home base is in New York City, but good luck finding her there!

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