6 Things the Lord of the Rings Teaches Us About Travel
Pick your travel partners wisely.
There are a finite number of traveler types. Lord of the Rings gives us a neat primer on all of them:
The Party Guys (Merry and Pippin): They’re fun, but they’re also useless.
The Show-Off (Legolas): Yes, he’s gonna be invaluable, but you’re gonna fucking hate him by the end. THERE WAS A MORE EFFICIENT WAY TO KILL THAT OLIPHAUNT, LEGOLAS.
The Douchebag (Boromir): He’s only gonna stick around for part of the time, but you’ll still be happy to see him go.
The Pro (Gandalf): If he decides to break off from the rest of the group, things are going to fall to shit.
The Seeker (Aragorn): The brooding and soul-searching shows that he’s thoughtful, but he’s eventually gonna start harshing your mellow.
The Wild Card (Smeagol): He’s super useful, but he’s probably gonna get you killed.
The Loyal Friend (Samwise): He’ll help get you through the trip no matter how much of a dick you’re being, but things are gonna be strained when you get home.
The Whiner (Frodo): Yes, your burden is so heavy. Yes, you’re such a trouper. Yes, we’re all so impressed… Yes you’re… ah fuck this, I’m gonna go find the party guys instead. Good luck, bro.
No one cares about all the good times you had.
Travel stories are only particularly interesting or enlightening when there’s some form of catastrophe behind them. Take, for example, Tom Bombadil, the jolly master of the wood in The Fellowship of the Ring. It was only the book’s megafans that were upset when Peter Jackson’s adaptations left out the scenes with Tom Bombadil, because those scenes in the book are boring as hell: everyone’s just hanging out with a happy man and his lovely wife. Who cares? Get on to the part with the Balrog. Good times are only useful to those who had them. Bad times are instructive to everyone.
Shortcuts have a price.
Wanna cross the mountain super fast? You’re gonna have to head through the firedemon caves. Wanna get into Mordor without being seen? You’re gonna have to go through the Land of Giant Spiders (or, as we call in the real world, “Australia”). If you want to get somewhere quicker, it’s gonna cost you.
Slow travel is overrated.
Sure, it’s more environmentally friendly, sure, you see a lot more, sure, you meet more people, but to be honest, it would’ve been much more pleasant if you’d just flown there and back.
Some places aren’t worth visiting.
Emyn Muil. Fangorn. Moria. The Dead Marshes. Mordor. Sure, it’s nice to be able to say you’ve been everywhere, but some places suck so hard that they do not belong on the bucket list at all.
Leave your valuables at home.
Bringing valuable jewelry is basically begging for unwanted attention.