I recently found myself rereading parts of Alain de Botton’s book The Art of Travelwhere he described French aristocrat Xavier de Maistre’s Journey Around My Bedroom,first published in 1794. Spending 42 days under house arrest for dueling, de Maistre passed the time by “room traveling,” deliberately—dare I say, mindfully—moving about his quarters in Turin reacquainting himself with the mantel, chest of drawers, chair, and other objects he had long taken for granted. Each becomes a stop on his grand tour of the mundane space.
We have much in common with de Maistre now as we find ourselves with time on our hands to explore, examine, and engage in a dialogue with our own rooms. We think we know everything until we discover something, even if it is a familiar object just seen in a new way—as de Botton so aptly puts it, “to notice what we have already seen.”
While we can continue to hold treasured travel memories in our heads, our hearts, and our journals, now room travel is de rigueur. No lines at security, no flight delays, no annoying loud-talking passengers, no waiting for the luggage that doesn’t arrive. Room traveling—or, somewhat less poetically, plain old-fashioned puttering—has just been legitimized by our current state of affairs.