Two Anthony Bourdain quotations to guide your 2019 plans

In a word: travel, whether near or far

I must admit it took me a while to warm up to Anthony Bourdain after one of the first excerpts I read of his writing was a brutal, seemingly unnecessary takedown of vegetarians. But I got over these thoughts quickly as I began to watch Parts Unknown. The searingly honest travel hero (or anti-hero, depending on your perspective) made an outsized impact wherever he went. And where he went (and the people, places, and meals he highlighted while there) inspired many people to travel, or to travel with a deeper interest or awareness. After the tragedy of his death in 2018, I’m left reflecting on some of his advice.

“If I am an advocate for anything, it is to move. As far as you can, as much as you can. Across the ocean, or simply across the river. Walk in someone else’s shoes or at least eat their food.”

(This quotation appears in various essays on Bourdain in Vanity Fair, Inc., and elsewhere.)

There’s much to gain by experiencing the world from another way of life, either at home or abroad. Routines and traditions are comforting and can be meaningful, but we’ve found that magic can happen when you break away from them.

I remember how excited Sean and I were when we made the decision to put our belongings in storage and begin traveling with our daughter. We daydreamed about where we’d visit, what we’d eat, and who we’d get to see. But weeks later, while packing up nearly a decade of life in New York and staring at the empty walls and floors we lived in while getting engaged, married, and having Eliza, we were both overcome with sadness about leaving. We started asking ourselves if we’d made the right choice.

Around a month after setting off on our travels, I remember us sitting at our rental in Paris sharing a buttery croissant, overlooking a quintessential Parisian street with Eliza napping nearby. I was overcome with such a deep sense of contentment and knew we were doing what was right for us.

Pastry with a view in Paris

From homemade pierogi shared with family in Poland to countless bibimbap in South Korea, we’ve eaten our way around the world while striving to understand its inhabitants a bit more through it. The joy we’ve found and the life we’ve continued to make together in all kinds of environments has been worth giving up our routines (and great bagels), at least temporarily.

“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.”

(This quotation appears in essays on Bourdain in Forbes, The Cut, and more.)

In terms of marks left behind, by now I’m sure there are other babies around the world finding single blocks Eliza dropped or hid while there. And socks, so many baby socks lost in dryers, on the street, and who even knows where else.

But yes, sometimes it can hurt. We often reflect on the fun we’ve had while traveling but don’t always share the times where it’s been hard, uncomfortable, or worse. For example, my finger started swelling unexpectedly a few days into our travels and sent me on a tour of the Parisian health care system (which is worthy of its own blog post), and then a few more months of doctor’s visits and tests before getting to the bottom of the issue.

It was tough to be on the go around the world with a finger that hurt, didn’t work correctly, and had no straightforward explanation. The experience reinforced the importance of getting aches and pains checked out sooner rather than later. (It also introduced me to several countries’ approaches to health care, which is a blessing in disguise, but you’d probably prefer to skip that discovery if you can avoid it!) But honestly, I can laugh about it now, knowing that one of my fingers has a story behind it that brings me back to some worrisome moments, but it also reminds me of all the fun we were havingso much that I worked through the pain.

Counting down to eat pierogi in Warsaw. If you look closely, you’ll see the finger in question.

Mostly, the marks left by travel aren’t visible. They’re moments and memories, like Eliza smiling at strangers and appearing to be at ease in most every situation (except for eating leafy greens, which is an ongoing battle). Or our comfort speaking Spanish with native speakers that, while still intermediate, has come a long way in helping us communicate with 400 million possible new friends. The challenge with any of these is to keep it going when we’re not far from home, whether that means making efforts to step outside of our usual spots, keeping up with new languages, or talking with strangers in our own city or town.

If you’re considering taking a trip with family, friends, or solo, and you’re looking for a sign, maybe this is it?! Personally, I can’t think of any regrets I’ve had about money spent on travels but can think of many times I’ve personally regretted something I bought. (I’m looking at you, orange lipstick that I still can’t pull off, no matter the lighting). As we start the new year, here’s to keeping this spirit of discovery alive.

11 Comments Add yours

  1. lahale1915 says:

    I must admit I was not. A huge Houses in fan, but I really appreciate these two quotes. The second one reminds me of ripples on the water. We are changed by travel even as we leave ripples on those places we visit. We, too, hope that our children have the best memories from our family’s travels.

  2. Loved Bourdain … his wit, honest observation, ability to showcase the best in any location, along with its warts. His overarching message in life was, just travel, experience life, drink it in wherever you go. Share of yourself and immerse yourself in learningn about others. I will miss him, but his words and lessons live on.

  3. Omg i loveed Anthony Bourdain ! i miss him!! i enjoyed this post too

  4. Curious And Geeks says:

    It’s so great to see how kids are during trips, how easily they can bond with local kids even when they do no speak a common language.

  5. nitnatshredder says:

    Sometimes the ripple of change is so subtle that it goes unnoticed until you return to your previous “normal” life and realise you aren’t the same person anymore. And I believe that even the smallest of gestures. like a friendly smile or interchange, leaves something of you behind as you travel the world.

  6. Yukti says:

    This post totally reflects me as I too believe the person gets a true knowledge of the place, culture, and living while traveling. And I agree that sometimes I have learned many new concepts and perspective on life. BTW I loved your pastry with a view of the Parisian street.

  7. Candy & Crystal says:

    Although it isn’t fun having a finger that is hurting during your travels, it definitely gives you a glimpse into the different health care systems around the world.

  8. sunsetsandrollercoasters says:

    The first time I saw Anthony Bourdain on television was during a cooking competition. I really liked his style even then. Afterwards I started watching Parts Unknown. He visited places we had been and places we were travelling to. His comments were always on point. I will really miss his knowledge of local foods. Its so true that like and travel makes marks on you.

  9. Your story was such a joy to read! I loved how you shared your experience and made it so personal. Much luck going into 2019. Keep on doing what you love. 😉

  10. I love Travel, Motivational & Inspiration Quotes – Not only do they keep you on track with your goals but that keep you grounded. I dont ever feel guilty for what I spend on travel as we all need time out, but I plan for new places to tick off my bucket list!

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