Why every traveler should read the hobbit

There can be no better book to read on your travels than a timeless adventure involving a little hobbit from Middle Earth. A tale of something unexpected and perhaps even unwanted. Something that leaves him (and you) changed just as any adventure into the unknown would. My first real adventure began when I stepped out my door six years ago. I left South Africa and traveled some 11 000 kilometers across hemispheres to spend six months in The Netherlands. Sure, I was afraid as hell (perhaps more excited than afraid) but I knew it was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. I had never before been to Europe and I had never lived on my own. Would I be able to afford it? Would I be able to find my way?  What if I got sick? What if I got lost? Travel can be a scary thing. The thought of leaving familiar surroundings and venturing into the big unknown world is pretty frightening but the truth is, if you don’t go, then how will you ever know what you could have seen or done and who you could have become?

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Bilbo Baggins is one of the biggest homebodies you could possibly find on Middle Earth. Naturally when first given the chance to take up an adventure that goes beyond the Shire, he refuses and ushers away his wizardly friend. After some convincing, he reluctantly agrees. At first, like any introvert, he is particularly grumpy on the road as he misses the warm homely comforts of the well-known Shire. Despite longing for the warmth of home, he soon finds himself learning more about the lessons of life and his own personal strengths that require him to make some pretty big decisions.

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I guess that’s one of the biggest questions any traveler asks: do we stay back and give up the opportunity of adventure just because we might fail and are a little (or perhaps a lot) scared? Do we leave behind those well-known securities and take a chance on something different, something that may allow us to see the world beyond our nicely painted white picket fences. Sure there were many times along the journey that Bilbo Baggins regretted his choice to leave the Shire but in the end, he came back a different hobbit that had experienced an adventure filled with risks, hardships, friendships, perseverance and decision making that wasn’t always easy. He had learnt a great deal about life and even more about his own character. Sure, he was still a hobbit but he wasn’t so little inside anymore.

 

Have you read The Hobbit by J.R.R Tolkein? Do you think this is a great travel read? Share your thoughts below!

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Hi World! I'm Shal - an environmental microbiologist, writer, teacher and artist from Durban, South Africa. I've spent the last two years traveling and teaching Chemistry and English to young kids in Asia. Life of Shal was founded as a way to share travel experiences, tips and other worldly magic with you! Join me on my journey!

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