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Traveling: Tolkien and a Dangerous Business

It is a dangerous business, going out of your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there is no knowing where you might be swept off to.

– J.R.R. Tolkien

Oh yes, it is a dangerous business leaving behind the comfort and security of home. But the reward is enormous. Many travelers seek the comfort of home when away – they eat the same food they would eat at home, they even have their newspaper sent to their hotels or rented apartments or read them via electronic devices. They cannot leave their everyday live behind and therefore, are not really traveling. They leave their home just for a change of place but not to open their minds for new experiences.

A friend of mine told me this: She once traveled Tunisia, long before the Arab Spring and lived with a friend of hers in a hotel complex in a beach town. The hotel offered guided trips to Tunis, you would go there in buses loaded with tourists, be carried to the tourist areas and tourist gift shops. You would not be allowed to get away from the group for the sake of security. There would be limited time to look at the sights and take photos. She refused to go with that bus. Instead, she and her friend organized themselves a return taxi to the city and they were dropped of in the middle of Tunis. Hotel staff had told them they must be mad and that it was too dangerous for women to wander the streets of Tunis alone. But neither she nor the other girl were mad. They were curious. They had a wonderful day in the capital city. They talked to complete strangers to get to know about their life styles. They went into shops that no European woman had visited before and were greeted with kindness and a cup of tea everywhere they went. One of the guys they had talked to invited them to get to know his family. They accepted the invitation and delved deeply into another culture.

The conventions of his community make Bilbo Baggins, hero of Tolkien’s “The Hobbit” hesitate when first offered to go on his epic voyage. Leaving behind his security to hurl himself into an adventure helter-skelter does not sound like a deal to him. Later on, especially when in danger, he repeatedly regrets his decision to go with Gandalf and the dwarfs. When he returns home he has changed a lot and is suspiciously eyed by his fellow hobbits. He now knows wanderlust and adventure and rejoices in the memory of his journey. Still, he warns his nephew Bilbo that traveling is a dangerous business. Because once you leave your security, you’ll never be the same again.

Believe in the words of a wise man, John Ronald Reuel Tolkien: Traveling means taking risks. Taking risks means to grow a strong personality. Travel for travel’s sake. Let the road take you wherever is leads, and do not be afraid of anything they tell you could be too dangerous to risk.

About the Author

Anna loves travel, photography, and writing. All at once, everyday. She collects entrance cards, plane tickets, and old atlases and has been searching for the perfect globe for some years. Follow Anna on Facebook or Twitter!

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