The Institute of Lifelong Learning
Institute of Lifelong Learning, Belfast

Early in 2004 I was about to start my first blog. I had already been on the road for a few years and was trying come up with an appropriate title. It had to describe quite closely what travelling really meant to me. I knew that I was getting from it much more than just visiting places, seeing things or meeting people. At the time I was practising a “work your way around the world”-style of backpacking, which meant that I was prepared to do virtually any type of work in order to get to almost any destination, as long as it was away from home and it would lead to more destinations – an approach very far removed from a city-break, a 10-day tour, or a three-week seaside vacation. “Work-your-way” is also not quite the same as doing projects or youth programs such as a gap year or volunteering. Neither is it pure economic migration or permanent immigration. It’s ongoing long-term travelling which might over time incorporate many, if not all of the above, as the hybrid process of extending the journey systematically continues.

I was starting to think of myself as a “modern-day gypsy”. Something had happened along the way which provided me with a deeper purpose, but trying to define exactly what that was remained elusive. After brainstorming word combinations for a few weeks, I came up with “travelosophy”, which was original and with an obvious meaning – the combination of travel and philosophy – but there was some flexibility. It could be interpreted either as the philosophy of the inner journey, or of the outer journey, or a combination thereof A few months later I posted “Practising Travelosophy” on the old blog. I would now like to expand more on that theme here.

Nomadic tendencies are usually instinctive and have been around for as long as humanity itself. Travelosophy has been around for as long as people have been thinking about nomadic tendencies. After all, for some, to travel is to be. The word travelosophy is not in the dictionary. Should it be? What is a synonym for Travelosophy?

What is Travelosophy?
The search for balance and understanding through movement and knowledge.
The quest for wisdom through the process of travel.
The art of long term travel and reflection.
Insight gained through extensive travel and applied in understanding everyday life and the world we live in.
A physical journey lived as an essential part of an individual’s life journey and spiritual journey.

Practicing Travelosophy
Travelosophy is an educational approach to travel through immersion. A travelosopher experiences a destination by spending an extended period of time there. He or she lives among and work with the local people. They remain informed about current affairs and have a keen eye for observing all aspects of the culture they temporarily reside in. They possesses a natural balance of respect, tact and sensitivity towards local customs and practices. They are stereo-type-breaking investigative reporters of sorts who explore beyond the obvious, to break the mould of common knowledge. They are independent and are usually not affiliated with any ideology, group or cause. They work for themselves and therefore take the time to observe, to understand and to reflect. Travelosophy is an art form which will often leave the artist broke and exhausted, but always fulfilled. It is usually an incurable addiction. True travelosophers are a rare breed.

Is there a spiritual side to Travelosophy?
The process of moving and having to constantly adapt and learn leads to a higher sense of self and world awareness. This may promote an appreciation of the mundane, the norm and the usual, on a higher level, which culminates in a fundamental understanding of how the process of growth is facilitated by energy, exposure, survival, experience and motion. In essence, a state of enlightenment can be achieved, through the gritty struggles and knocks of live, multiplied and enhanced by the process of continuously changing physical and social environments. By displacing the self from comfort zones, fixed abodes and the hoarding of material possessions the travelosopher is freed from excess baggage.

Question to readers: What is your Travelosophy?
(Related Post) Who may become Travelosophers?

Text and image by Jean-Jacques Montagnier

© 2008


Explorer, Philosopher, Photographer


  1. Jean-Jacques

    Thanks for sharing, mate! Yours are short & powerful (almost like an espresso in the morning) 🙂
    Your link: “The wind, as I walk, is cool and humid” – Great Piece!

  2. Michelle

    Excellent piece, Jacques.

    What is my travelosophy? I have an answer, but need to write it! 🙂 I’ll be back with the link when i’m done.

  3. Don Barone

    Hi Jean-Jaques.

    First thanks for visitng my site and although I am not a travelosopher I appreciated your stories especially your German escapade.

    Don Barone

  4. Jean-Jacques

    Thanks Don! Glad to see you here. You have a very interesting web page – (followed the link from your name) – will be spending some time there.

  5. yana

    Hallo, Wow jy kan maar skryf – een gawe wat ek nou nie het nie. Wel,lewe oop cruise ship is ook nie net maanskyn en rose nie, maar ‘n wonderlike manier om te travel en nog betaal te word daar voor. Dit sal help as jy se in watter tipe werk jy belangstel en kan dan dalk help om met die regte mense te kontak. Praat weer

  6. Alicia

    Wow, thank you! What a compliment! I really enjoyed reading this piece, too, and will be coming back often. It is a joy to see travel, philosophy and the art of the written word woven together so skillfully.

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