Samuel Langhorne Clemens, better known as Mark Twain, was one of America's most beloved humorists and writers. While he is best known for his two books, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, I always loved the tales he told in The Innocents Abroad.
In 1867, Twain embarked on a tour of Europe and the Middle East with some other American travelers. The trip was funded by a newspaper where Twain was on retainer. While the trip was primarily about visiting the Holy Land, Twain wrote about the entire journey through Europe and then onto the Middle East. The book has varying sentiments including Twain's hallmark humor but also some scathing criticism of things that he saw along the way. There are many notable witticisms in the book including this gem: "She kept up her compliments, and I kept up my determination to deserve them or die.”
The quote that meant the most to me, both when I read it as a teenager and even today is something Twain wrote at his home in San Francisco upon his return. He summarized his experiences as follows:
Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things can not be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime.
Traveling is a truly wonderful thing and if this is the byproduct, everyone needs to leave home - at least once.
By the way, if you have a Kindle, you can get a copy of the book for 99¢ using the link below.