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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 6 February 2011
If you have purchased this book with the intention of becoming a better traveller, you are likely to turn away disappointed. Where the author does score admirably, though, is in examining some of our motivations for travelling, and preparing us for the eventual disappointments ahead.

This is not to say that the book takes a negative view of travel - just a slightly more balanced one than what most people start out with. The author then attempts to guide us through the travel experience via five chapters - Departure, Motives, Landscape, Art, Return - all intertwined with travel experiences of famous artists and explorers of the past. This certainly provides a good background story and if you are not turned off by de Botton's often verbose and somewhat too complicated way of expressing himself there is enjoyment to be had.

His conclusion (derived from some of the characters he uses to illustrate the story) that the mindset is more important than the destination is certainly something I can identify with. It also allows you - in case you use this mindset when planning your travels - to at least moderate the possibility of eventual disappointment that most places are bound to throw up at some point.

Not having read the author's other works yet I cannot judge where this one fits in quality wise but it is certainly a useful tool for reflection and might provide you with a more realistic mindset for travelling, even if it will not furnish you with specific tools. Just make sure you do not take some chapters too seriously, or you will never expand your travels beyond the bedroom, or travel shows on the TV.
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