The world is still deceived with ornament.
william shakespeare, the merchant of venice (1605)
We are creatures in motion, of motion. George Santayana, in The
Philosophy of Travel, called it the “privilege of animals”; the ca-
pacity to wander in search of better prospects is the key to our
intelligence and imagination, unlike the plants that are “fatally
rooted to the ground.” The human story is, above all, an itinerary
of endless departures and returns, advances and retreats, incur-
sions and displacements.
This book ponders two simple—seemingly simplistic—ques-
tions: why we travel and how we travel. And, along the way, it
tackles a third one: Is there a difference between travel and tour-
ism? The answers are extraordinarily complex. We travel, in part,
because we are restless. The word “restlessness” can describe so
many things, at so many registers of emotional intensity, from
passing boredom to the deepest existential angst. The restlessness
we speak of here is something like what Bruce Chatwin, one of the
twentieth century’s most exemplary travelers, in an unfinished
manuscript, called “the nomadic alternative.” The yearning to ex-
plore our surroundings and understand our context is natural to
I n t r o d u C t I o n
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