AskDefine | Define itinerary

Dictionary Definition



1 an established line of travel or access [syn: path, route]
2 a guidebook for travelers [syn: travel guidebook]
3 a proposed route of travel [syn: travel plan]

User Contributed Dictionary




  1. A route or proposed route of a journey.
  2. An account or record of a journey.
  3. A guidebook for travellers.


A route or proposed route of a journey
An account or record of a journey
A guidebook for travellers

Extensive Definition

Travel literature is travel writing considered to have value as literature. Travel literature typically records the people, events, sights and feelings of an author who is touring a foreign place for the pleasure of travel. An individual work is sometimes called a travelogue or itinerary.
To be called literature the work must have a coherent narrative, or insights and value, beyond a mere logging of dates and events, such as diary or ship's log. Literature that recounts adventure, exploration and conquest is often grouped under travel literature, but it also has its own genre outdoor literature; these genres will often overlap with no definite boundaries. This article focuses on literature that is more akin to tourism.


One of the earliest known records of taking pleasure in travel, of travelling for the sake of travel and writing about it, is Petrarch's (13041374) ascent of Mount Ventoux in 1336. He states that he went to the mountaintop for the pleasure of seeing the top of the famous height. His companions who stayed at the bottom he called frigida incuriositas ("a cold lack of curiosity"). He then wrote about his climb, making allegorical comparisons between climbing the mountain and his own moral progress in life.
Michault Taillement, a poet for the Duke of Burgundy, travelled through the Jura Mountains in 1430 and left us with his personal reflections, his horrified reaction to the sheer rock faces, and the terrifying thunderous cascades of mountain streams. Antoine de la Sale (c. 1388–c. 1462), author of Petit Jehan de Saintre, climbed to the crater of a volcano in the Lipari Islands in 1407, leaving us with his impressions. "Councils of mad youth" were his stated reasons for going. In the mid 15th century, Gilles le Bouvier, in his Livre de la description des pays, gave us his reason to travel and write:
Because many people of diverse nations and countries delight and take pleasure, as I have done in times past, in seeing the world and things therein, and also because many wish to know without going there, and others wish to see, go, and travel, I have begun this little book.
In 1589, Richard Hakluyt (c. 15521616) published Voyages, a foundational text of the travel literature genre.
Other later examples of travel literature include accounts of the Grand Tour. Aristocrats, clergy, and others with money and leisure time travelled Europe to learn about the art and architecture of its past. One tourism literature pioneer was Robert Louis Stevenson (18501894).
Travel literature also became popular during the Song Dynasty (9601279) of medieval China. The genre was called 'travel record literature' (youji wenxue), and was often written in narrative, prose, essay and diary style. Travel literature authors such as Fan Chengda (11261193) and Xu Xiake (15871641) incorporated a wealth of geographical and topographical information into their writing, while the 'daytrip essay' Record of Stone Bell Mountain by the noted poet and statesman Su Shi (10371101) presented a philosophical and moral argument as its central purpose.
In the 18th century, travel literature was commonly known as the book of travels, which mainly consisted of maritime diaries. In 18th century England, almost every famous writer worked in the travel literature form. Captain James Cook's diaries (1784) were the equivalent of today's best sellers.

Travel guides

Travel literature is not to be confused with travel guides, usually a series put out by a publisher, each dealing with a particular country, city or region. These are useful for travellers, as they provide a wealth of information on hotels, restaurants, major sights, travel tips etc. The writers are often specialists who travel and write these books for a living.

Types of travelogues

Some travel writers are people who travel and make their livings by writing about it. The Americans William Least Heat-Moon (b. 1940) and Paul Theroux (b. 1941), the Welsh author Jan Morris (b. 1926) and the Englishman Eric Newby (19192006) come to mind, although Morris is also known as an historian and Theroux as a novelist.
There is a point, too, in which travel literature intersects with essay writing, as in V. S. Naipaul's India: A Wounded Civilization (1977), where a trip becomes the occasion for extended observations on a nation and people. Rebecca West's (18921983) work on Yugoslavia, Black Lamb and Grey Falcon (1941) is another example.
Travel and nature writing merge in many of the works of Sally Carrighar (18951985), Ivan T. Sanderson (19111973) and Gerald Durrell (19251995). These authors are naturalists who write to support their great passion. Both Durrell and Sanderson can be quite funny. Charles Darwin (18091882) wrote his famous account of the journey of HMS Beagle at the intersection of science, natural history and travel.
Literary travel writing also occurs when an author, famous in another field, travels and writes about his or her experiences. Examples of such writers are Samuel Johnson (17091784), Charles Dickens (18121870), Robert Louis Stevenson (18501894), Hilaire Belloc (18701953), D. H. Lawrence (18851930), Rebecca West (18921983), John Steinbeck (19021968) and Evelyn Waugh (19031966).
Travel literature may be cross-cultural or transnational in focus, or it may involve travel to different regions within the same country. Accounts of spaceflight may also be considered as travel literature.
Fictional travelogues make up a large proportion of travel literature. Although it may be desirable in some contexts to distinguish fictional from non-fictional works, such distinctions have proved notoriously difficult to make in practice, as in the famous instance of the travel writings of Marco Polo or John Mandeville. Many "fictional" works of travel literature are based on factual journeys – Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness), presumably Homer's Odyssey (c. 8th cent. BCE) – while other works, though based on imaginary and even highly fantastic journeys – Dante's Divine Comedy (1321), Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels (1726), or Voltaire's Candide (1759), Samuel Johnson's Rasselas (1759) – nevertheless contain factual elements.

Notable travel writers and travel literature

See outdoor literature for adventure/exploration/nature literature.
The Royal Road to Romance, The Flying Carpet, New Worlds to Conquer, The Glorious Adventure, Seven League Boots


  • Batten, Charles Lynn, Pleasurable Instruction: Form and Convention in Eighteenth Century Travel Literature (1978)
  • Speake, Jennifer (2003), ed. Literature of Travel and Exploration: An Encyclopedia. 3 vol. [N.p.]: Routledge. ISBN 1-57958-247-8.
  • Stolley, Karen. El lazarillo de ciegos caminantes: un itinerario crítico. Ediciones del Norte. (1992)
  • Fussell, Paul Jr. "Patrick Brydone: The Eighteenth-Century Traveler as Representative Man." Literature as a Mode of Travel. New York Public Library Bulletin. (1963)
itinerary in Czech: Dobrodružná literatura

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Baedeker, Yellow Pages, air lane, beat, bibliography, business directory, catalog, checklist, circuit, city directory, classified directory, course, directory, finding list, flight path, guidebook, handbook, handlist, index, line, orbit, path, phone book, primrose path, reference book, road, road map, roadbook, round, route, run, sea lane, shortcut, telephone book, telephone directory, tour, track, trade route, traject, trajectory, trajet, walk
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