Last Updated on October 28, 2020
Often on this blog, I talk about the mundane travel practicalities; like how to pack a suitcase, the various TSA rules and regulations, all that boring but useful stuff!
But travel can be magical and otherworldly. I don’t think anyone captures that spirit better than J.R.R. Tolkien who I have loved ever since I was a little boy reading The Hobbit under the covers with a flashlight.
Things wouldn’t have been the same if JetBlue flew direct from The Shire to Mordor so the Tolkien quotations are not always relevant to modern globe-trotting.
Our airports are bland and sanitized and online trolls don’t turn to stone if they are still up tweeting at dawn. More’s the pity.
But there is something to discover in middle earth for every courageous traveler. So here’s a collection of advice gleaned from my favorite Tolkien quotes to inspire your next adventure!
Some of the best quotes are from the songs and poems of Tolkien so I have included videos of the songs where I could.
Lord Of The Rings Quotes About Travel & Adventure
“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”Bilbo by J.R.R. Tolkien
One of the most popular LOTR quotes. This was a line said by Frodo, who quoting Bilbo at the time. So it was Bilbo that originally said it.
Hopefully, you won’t face the same level of danger that Bilbo or Frodo faced on your next vacation. Last time I checked there were no ringwraiths in Bangkok.
The danger that Tolkien speaks about is that your life could be changed forever. When you set off on an adventure you never know where you are going to end up!
Isn’t that thrilling?
Use Your Time Wisely
“All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us”Gandalf
J.R.R. Tolkien lived through some grim times. He served in the British Army during World War I and participated in The Battle of the Somme.
He didn’t have a choice in that, all he had to decide was what to do with the time he was given. Tolkien had to choose how to live his life in the time and place in which he lived.
In The Lord Of The Rings, Frodo had to decide what to do with his life. He chooses to travel to Mordor alone. Thankfully his buddy Sam wouldn’t let him take a solo trip.
You can relive that scene in this short video below.
What do you want to do with the time that you have been given? Do you want to wander the world? If so, why? Check out my post on positive travel if you are unsure how to answer.
Don’t Be Afraid To Get Lost
“Not all those who wander are lost”J.R.R. Tolkien
This is probably one of the most famous Tolkien quotes. “Not all those who wander are lost” is actually said by Gandalf in a letter to Frodo. But it’s a line that is part of a poem that Bilbo later reveals he wrote about Strider (Aragorn).
It’s short and to the point. That makes it catchy, but what exactly does it mean?
To wander is to move around aimlessly. If you move around without a clear aim people might assume that you are lost or disoriented.
But if the very reason for you traveling is to get lost, then you’re not really lost, you’re exactly where you wanted to be. Even if you are not entirely sure where that is.
One of my favorite things to do in a new city is to wander around going wherever my feet or my nose take me.
I don’t follow a map.
From a birds-eye view, I may look lost as I take an inefficient route through the city, but I’m not lost. It’s exactly these types of random routes that make for the most serendipitous discoveries.
What about you? Do you like to wander around a bit lost or do you prefer to have a tight itinerary when you’re on a trip?
The World Is Not As Scary As It Sometimes Seems
“The world is indeed full of peril, and in it there are many dark places; but still there is much that is fair, and though in all lands love is now mingled with grief, it grows perhaps the greater.”Haldir to Merry
Things have changed a lot since Tolkien’s days. Now we are all connected and information flows quickly. If “bad news travels fast” was true in Tolkien’s day how fast does bad news get around now! It’s everywhere!
“The News” should really be called “The Bad News”. Since good news stories are so very rarely encountered.
And so it can seem that the world is full of danger and darkness. This impression could lead us to lock the doors and stay home since the world outside seems like such a dangerous place.
But let me play the role of Haldir here…
As you journey around the world you’ll mostly find good people. The world isn’t as scary as “The Bad News” would make us think.
There are still many fair places out there for you to discover. There is more love in the world than darkness.
So get out there and switch off “The News”!
Stay True To Your Travel Companions
“Faithless is he that says farewell when the road darkens”Gimli
If you are traveling, and times get tough, you should stick together. Don’t leave your buddies when they need you.
If you’ve read the book or seen the movies you’ll know that Tolkien’s works are all about fellowship and sticking together to overcome darkness.
That sounds like not a bad travel philosophy too.
Your Destiny Awaits
“The Road goes ever on and on down from the door where it began. Now far ahead the Road has gone, and I must follow, if I can”J.R.R. Tolkien
I think Tolkien is talking about destiny here.
Wherever you are right now you are traveling down a road, the road of life.
Maybe you’ll get to explore new places and take some detours as your travel. But you must follow your path if you can.
Adventures Never Have An End
“Don’t adventures ever have an end? I suppose not. Someone else always has to carry on the story”Bilbo Baggins, The Fellowship of the Ring
The drama of life is played by an ensemble cast. It’s more like an ongoing soap opera than a TV series or film.
Your storyline is just one part of the overall continuing drama.
Are your adventures over? They don’t need to be. Not yet.
I’ll say it again. Travel is a state of mind.
So long as your heart is beating, there is still time for your character to be involved in a dramatic twist.
It only takes a moment, and you don’t need to go anywhere.
You are always surrounded by the awe-inspiring spectacle of life and existence if you keep your heart and your mind open to seeing it.
Take The Hidden Paths
“Still round the corner there may wait a new road or a secret gate, and though I oft have passed them by, a day will come at last when I shall take the hidden paths that run west of the moon, east of the sun”Frodo
Curiosity. This, right here, is why we travel.
To see what is behind the secret gate.
To take the hidden path and discover what’s out there.
“Though here at journey’s end I lie in darkness buried deep, beyond all towers strong and high, beyond all mountains steep, above all shadows rides the sun and stars forever dwell: I will not say the day is done, nor bid the stars farewell”Samwise Gamgee
No matter how bleak Sam refuses to give up. He knows that the good times are out there, even if he’s in the shit right now.
So the end of the journey is never the end. Sam keeps his traveler’s mindset right to the very end. He can endure all because he knows somewhere out there is eternal peace.
Is this a travel quote? It’s about traveling through life that’s for sure.
Take Your Home With You In Your Heart
“I feel that as long as the Shire lies behind, safe and comfortable, I shall find wandering more bearable: I shall know that somewhere there is a firm foothold, even if my feet cannot stand there again”Frodo
This is similar to the last quote. Though this time it’s Frodo dreaming of home. Just knowing that The Shire is out there and safe gives Frodo an anchor.
As you go traveling, do you have somewhere anchoring you and keeping you grounded?
Always Be Ready For The Next Adventure
“I think i’m quite ready for another adventure”Bilbo
This cheeky little quote is from Bilbo before he sets off to leave middle earth. By this time he is getting old but he still has a bold and courageous spirit.
Face The Right Direction
“Home Is Behind, The World Ahead”A Walking Song
I love this simple quote that beautifully captures that feeling when you start a new trip.
As Lao Tsu says “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Once you take that step home is behind you and the rest of the world stretches out before you.
You Are Always Traveling
“The Wide World Is All About You: You Can Fence Yourselves In, But You Cannot For Ever Fence It Out”Gildor To Frodo
There is another travel quote that I like – “Travel Is A State Of Mind” by Paul Theroux. Is it possible to be mixed up in that sense of adventure even when you have not gone anywhere?
Maybe if you realize that you can’t escape the world.
You are surrounded by the world right now. So why not be a traveler at home too?
Take a staycation! Try to experience your home with this same sense of adventure that you do when you travel to foreign lands.
After all, your mundane neighborhood would feel exotic to someone from another culture. Can you capture that feeling yourself?
Put Down That Travel Guide!
“The World Is Not In Your Books And Maps, It Is Out There”Gandalf
Put down your travel guide. Leave your map at the hotel. Stop looking at your destination through a camera lens. Forget your Instagram feed.
Now get out there and look, listen, smell, taste, and touch your destination.
Travel planning and sightseeing are fine, but make time during your trip to just soak up the experience.
There And Back Again – Hobbit Quotes About Adventure
Even A Baggins Can Have An Adventure
“This is a story of how a Baggins had an adventure, and found himself doing and saying things altogether unexpected.”J.R.R. Tolkien
Did you ever find yourself doing things altogether unexpected?
If you travel to a new place and you might just meet a new version of yourself when you get there!
Don’t Worry About Being Late For Dinner
“I am looking for someone to share in an adventure that I am arranging, and it’s very difficult to find anyone.Gandalf & Bilbo in The Hobbit
I should think so — in these parts! We are plain quiet folk and have no use for adventures. Nasty disturbing uncomfortable things! Make you late for dinner!”
You’ll never have an adventure if you can’t be late for dinner.
Someone said, “life begins at the edge of your comfort zone”, Bilbo had to get out of his comfort zone for his life to really begin.
It would have been a boring book and movies if Bilbo never left Bag End that’s for sure!
Your Nest Waits At The End Of Your Journey
“Farewell,” they cried, “Wherever you fare till your eyries receive you at the journey’s end!” That is the polite thing to say among eagles. “May the wind under your wings bear you where the sun sails and the moon walks,” answered Gandalf, who knew the correct reply.”J.R.R. Tolkien
Farewell in this sense means, Travelwell.
Your nest as somewhere you go to at the end of your journey.
In the meantime, keep on traveling, and may the wind carry you far!
Don’t Take Your Sword As Carry-On Luggage
“Then Something Tookish Woke Up Inside Him, And He Wished To Go And See The Great Mountains, And Hear The Pine-Trees And The Waterfalls, And Explore The Caves, And Wear A Sword Instead Of A Walking-Stick”J.R.R. Tolkien
Is there something Tookish inside you?
Did you see your great mountains yet?
Did you listen to the trees and the waterfalls?
Did you explore the caves?
What are you waiting for!
But leave your sword behind! You won’t be able to take that in your carry on luggage!
J.R.R. Tolkien is buried in Oxford, England. His grave is in the photo at the start of this post. He was a wonderful man who took his horrific experiences war and processed and repackaged them into thrilling and delightful stories about adventure and fellowship that brought great pleasure to millions of people. Not bad for a life’s work.
Bilbo once asked “Don’t adventures ever have an end? I suppose not. Someone else always has to carry on the story”.
Tolkien’s adventure is over but it’s your job to carry on the story and have your own adventure. I think I know what Tolkien would have suggested!