Anthony Bourdain taught us how to see the world. When Bourdain travelled, he didn’t shy away from the unfamiliar — he ran towards it. He showed us the common humanity we share with others and made us all better for it.
We will miss him, but we won’t forget what he has taught us — to travel with open minds and hearts, to travel fearlessly. As we remember Anthony Bourdain, we share with you some of his best pieces of travel wisdom.
On having an open mind
1. “If you’re twenty-two, physically fit, hungry to learn and be better, I urge you to travel — as far and as widely as possible. Sleep on floors if you have to. Find out how other people live and eat and cook. Learn from them — wherever you go.”
2. “Do we really want to travel in hermetically sealed popemobiles through the rural provinces of France, Mexico and the Far East, eating only in Hard Rock Cafes and McDonald’s? Or do we want to eat without fear, tearing into the local stew, the humble taqueria’s mystery meat, the sincerely offered gift of a lightly grilled fish head? I know what I want. I want it all. I want to try everything once.”
3. “If I’m an advocate for anything, it’s to move. As far as you can, as much as you can. Across the ocean, or simply across the river. The extent to which you can walk in someone else’s shoes or at least eat their food, it’s a plus for everybody. Open your mind, get up off the couch, move.”
4. “Nothing unexpected and wonderful is going to happen if you have an itinerary in Paris filled with the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower.”
5. “I learned a long time ago that trying to micromanage the perfect vacation is always a disaster. That leads to terrible times.”
6. “I’m a big believer in winging it. I’m a big believer that you’re never going to find perfect city travel experience or the perfect meal without a constant willingness to experience a bad one. Letting the happy accident happen is what a lot of vacation itineraries miss, I think, and I’m always trying to push people to allow those things to happen rather than stick to some rigid itinerary.”
7. “When dealing with complex transportation issues, the best thing to do is pull up with a cold beer and let somebody else figure it out.”
On the world
8. “It’s an irritating reality that many places and events defy description. Angkor Wat and Machu Picchu, for instance, seem to demand silence, like a love affair you can never talk about. For a while after, you fumble for words, trying vainly to assemble a private narrative, an explanation, a comfortable way to frame where you’ve been and what’s happened. In the end, you’re just happy you were there — with your eyes open — and lived to see it.”
9. “It seems that the more places I see and experience, the bigger I realize the world to be. The more I become aware of, the more I realize how relatively little I know of it, how many places I still have to go, the more there is to learn. Maybe that’s enlightenment enough; to know that there is no final resting place of the mind; no smug clarity. Perhaps wisdom…is realizing how small I am, and unwise, and how far I have yet to go.
10. It’s those little human moments that stick with you forever, the random acts of kindness.”
11. “To be treated well in places where you don’t expect to be treated well, to find things in common with people you thought previously you had very, very little in common with, well that can’t be a bad thing.”
On the journey
12. “As you move through this life and this world you change things slightly, you leave marks behind, however small. And in return, life — and travel — leaves marks on you. Most of the time, those marks — on your body or on your heart — are beautiful. Often, though, they hurt.”
13. “Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you; it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind.”