But I've also learned that I am never so much myself as when I'm somewhere I've never been before. So much of our lives is necessarily spent in the habitual, the familiar: wake, work, eat, sleep. Wash the dishes. Laugh with friends. Worry about money or a wayward child. When I'm somewhere new, somewhere else, habits necessarily fall away -- I'm still eating but it's different foods, sleeping, but in strange beds -- and eventually the stresses and worries do as well. (Brooding about something my boss said becomes much less urgent when I'm in an Italian train station wrestling with a ticket machine that has apparently decided I won't be on the next train to Rome after all.)
Without the pinch of routine, you not only recognize what's really you, you expand to be even more of yourself. Strange places, strange people, the challenges of navigation, all push at you. And you push back.
Journeys are the midwives of thought. Few places are more conducive to internal conversations than a moving plane, ship or train. There is an almost quaint correlation between what is in front of our eyes and the thoughts we are able to have in our heads: large thoughts at times requiring large views, new thoughts new places. Introspective reflections which are liable to stall are helped along by the flow of the landscape. The mind may be reluctant to think properly when thinking is all it is supposed to do.
At the end of hours of train-dreaming, we may feel we have been returned to ourselves - that is, brought back into contact with emotions and ideas of importance to us. It is not necessarily at home that we best encounter our true selves. The furniture insists that we cannot change because it does not; the domestic setting keeps us tethered to the person we are in ordinary life, but who may not be who we essentially are.
--Alain de Botton, The Art of Travel