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We all need beautiful travel poems.
Why? To inspire us to travel, embrace our inner bravery, and explore the world.
Take myself for instance. I love poetry. I also love travel. So it’s natural I’d write an entire post on poems that will inspire you to travel! But before I get too gushy, I have a confession to make:
It’s ironic that I love poetry so much.
When I attended college and decided to major in English, I enrolled in a poetry course for beginners, but dropped out once I learned the professor had rules against leaving the lecture to use the bathroom. (Ew).
I’ve also taken classes where poetry wasn’t open for student interpretation. Nope.
If you disagreed with the professor’s perspective, you were Dead Wrong and ought to feel sorry for bastardizing literature. So usually I’d zone out and think about my next meal, likely Wendys or a Fat Sandwich. Ahhh, memories.
Now, though, poetry inspires me. I know I probably sound like a huge nerd, but whatever, it’s the truth. I have a long list of favorite poems including travel-related ones. And what better place to share my love of travel poetry than on my blog?
Tuck in, readers! You’re in for a fun ride!
Now I hope these poems will inspire you to travel too!
Even if you hate poetry (I see you), still give these texts a fair chance. I know when I let these words flow through my mind I feel an urge to throw caution to the winds, step onto a plane, and enjoy the unknown.
Travel Poem 1: “I Wandered Lonely As A Cloud” – William Wordsworth
I’m a solo female traveler. Sure, I’ll join friends and family on trips, but I’ve visited a lot of new places alone. Just me and my backpack. I don’t mind solo travel.
If anything, exploring the world on your own terms is very, very, very liberating. You meet new people, choose your own activities, wake up whenever you want, the whole nine yards.
Besides I looooooove when no one else is around to tell me what to do. I’m an independent boss like that.
In the travel poem “I Wandered Lonely As a Cloud,” the speaker reflects on a beautiful daffodil field and all alone, he remembers their vibrant colors.
As a solo female traveler, I have a lot of memories that only I share. And yeah, I definitely reflect on those incredible times on miserable rainy NJ commutes.
Romanticism is a movement filled with travel poems of all shapes and sizes. Trust me, this isn’t the only travel poem of the era either.
Furthermore, Wordsworth wrote some of his finest poetry in the Lake District of England. I haven’t had the chance to visit (yet), but the pictures are spectacular, depicting green rolling hills and scenic lakes. No wonder he was so inspired.
Travel Poem 2. “Ulysses” – Alfred, Lord Tennyson
This travel poem is told from the perspective of Ulysses, the great ancient Greek hero of Odyssey fame. I wasn’t the biggest fan of the character when I read The Odyssey (cheater!), but I felt some sympathy for him in this poem.
In Tennyson’s work, we’ve presented with an aging and utterly bored king. Even though he’s reached old age, Ulysses decides to leave his kingdom and make new discoveries.
He simply can’t stand sitting on the throne for the rest of his life. Ulysses vows to “never yield” or give up on his journey, meaning it’s likely that he won’t return home ever again.
As you already know, I angsted a lot about turning 30. Probably too much. I worry sometimes that I’m too “old” to daydream about future trips – international and domestic – and I should just focus on, uh, more “normal” goals. Like buying a house, finding a husband, and having kids. Yawn.
But, you know what, if an adventurous life is good enough for Ulysses, then it’s good enough for me.
Ulysses is a fine piece of travel poetry even if it’s a little depressing. The lines allude Ulysses will never return to this kingdom again.
Travel Poem 3. “Song of Myself” – Walt Whitman
“Song of Myself” is a celebration of oneself. The theme absolutely shows in the title. And, as someone who practices self-love, I appreciate a travel poem that cheers on the self.
We’re often told to act humble. Not brag. To let others enjoy the spotlight. To give to charity. To remember family and friends.
Okay, I understand the importance of giving. I’ve been told I’m quite generous with my time and money, and I believe this is a positive trait of mine.
So while you don’t want to turn into an arrogant sack of awfulness, too much humbleness leads to weaker self-esteem which then leads to undermining one’s own special accomplishments.
So drop the excessive humbleness. Drop it now!
Travel requires confidence. Many people decide to travel for personal reasons such as healing a broken heart, re-discovering themselves, uncovering their family’s history, restarting their lives, etc. etc, but regardless, you need confidence to break outside your comfort zone.
“Song of Myself” is motivational and definitely can be considered a travel poem. Why? Well. This poem makes you feel as if you can do anything even travel the world.
Travel Poem 4. “The Road Not Taken” – Robert Frost
Okay, I’m entering into “cliche territory” now, but I had to include Frost’s famous travel poem on this list. It just felt incomplete without it.
In Frost’s poem, the speaker comes across two diverging paths in the woods. S/he decides to take the path not trodden by millions of others. The lesser traveled path is scarier, but the speaker treks onwards and claims the decision made a meaningful difference.
As you can see, the poem is a gigantic metaphor for making unconventional choices to benefit your life.
Solo travel especially is seen as an unusual choice but my trips have definitely molded me into the person who I am now, a stronger and more assured person. I don’t shudder at the idea of driving to new places, for example. I used to worry about getting lost all the time, but now I shrug, use my Waze app, and not worry too much.
Embark on the road not taken! You’d be surprised at what you discover on your journey.
Travel Poem 5. “Uphill” – Christina Rossetti
Eeeee, Christina Rossetti is one of my favorite Victorian poets! I’ll always hold a special place in my heart for “The Goblin Market.”
Meanwhile “Uphill” embodies all that is amazing and difficult about traveling.
The journey uphill takes the speaker the entire day, morning through night. Travel requires sleepless nights (argh, damn you, international flights), uncomfortable bus rides, and canceled train departures. I can’t count the number of times my transportation plans fell flat on its face.
Ultimately, the speaker is nervous about making it to the top of the hill. Understandable.
However, the inn at the top of the hill promises company and warm beds for all travelers. No one is ever turned away.
So, even if it’s physically and emotionally exhausting, travel also heals you beyond your wildest dreams. And the goodness of people? Wow. It still blows my mind. Both my lunch in Nazare and canceled Stockholm train prove kindness exists everywhere.
Travel Poem 6. “In a Station of the Metro” – Ezra Pound
This is one example of short travel poems. Actually, Pound’s “In a Station of the Metro” is very, very, very short. My students were shocked it even counted as a poem!
This poem gives the reader an image of nameless faces at a metro station. As travelers, we all spend time using public transportation, such as buses or trains, and watch the people around us.
Come on. Who doesn’t do this? I’m at the point where I automatically connect a subway station to traveling in a brand new city, haha.
Travel Poem 7. “The Lake Isle of Innisfree” – W. B. Yeats
W. B. Yeats might have had a bit of a creepy personal life, but his travel poem “The Lake Isle of Innisfree” deeply speaks to me.
For instance, I love huge international cities, but it’s not exactly a secret that I’m not a fan of hustle and bustle. Which is why I wonder if New Jersey is a true “fit” for my lifestyle but that’s a whole other post.
Unlike my hurried daily life, travel forces me to slow down and soak up every single experience, however small and discreet.
In Yeats’s poem, the speaker mentally returns to a beautiful lake as he stares at a road on a regular ol’ day. This poem reminds us that our journeys aren’t finished when they come to an end.
Yeats certainly knew how to write a true traveling poem.
Travel Poem 8. “The Unexplorer” – Edna St. Vincent Millay
Okay, this travel poem is totally “tongue-in-cheek,” which is exactly why I love it so very much!
The speaker is a young girl who wishes to see the end of a lovely road outside her house. Her mother tells her that the road leads to the milkman’s door, and this boooooring revelation stops the girl from traveling at all. Sad, huh?
Now I’m a traveler and proudly identify as such, but I also love staying in my apartment and watching hours of television. Sometimes I can’t even be bothered to stroll five minutes down the street to buy a carton of milk.
Millay’s poem helps me feel less guilty if I have those lazy or disappointed moments at home or abroad. Score!
Travel Poem 9. “Hearthside” – Dorothy Parker
A vivid poem that describes a speaker poking at the flames, while thinking about all the beautiful places s/he will not see.
This is one of many poems that will inspire you to travel, because do you truly want to only imagine places and never see them?
Sure, “now” is never the best time to travel, but if you wait for the perfect opportunity, while twiddling your thumbs in the safety of your room, perhaps your time will never, ever come. Better to impulsively book that low cost flight to Milan than wait and regret it.
Travel Poem 10. “Travel” – Robert Louis Stevenson
We’re all familiar with Robert Louis Stevenson, especially us literary nerds with a particular fondness for the Victorian Era. I mean, I read The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde when I was only sixteen and loved the creepy tale.
And now you’re telling me he wrote travel poems, too? How amazing is that?
Robert Louis Stevenson’s travel poem, simply called “Travel,” is packed with imagery of the Middle East, China, and Africa, making me want to push my comfort zone aside and branch out with my own adventures.
Why Should We Read Travel Poems?
A lot of people have a hard time grasping why poetry is valuable. And, okay, I understand their reluctance. Although I am a proud literary traveler, poetry isn’t always easy to fully comprehend especially a poem heavy in devices such as irony and allusion.
But poetry is written specifically to convey emotion. We are unable to see and touch emotion.
Read travel poem to feel the words, to dig deep and think about your upcoming journeys. Use the time for peaceful reflection, even. We don’t get enough quiet moments in our busy world.
So curl up with a pile of travel poems and read. Read til your heart is content. Much love to you.
Tell me your favorite poems – especially poems that will inspire you to travel. And remember to subscribe everywhere! Haha. I’m off to read some touching travel poems now. Be still my heart.