Does travel narrow the mind?
First consider Emerson:
Our first journeys discover to us the indifference of places. At home I dream that at Naples, at Rome, I can be intoxicated with beauty, and lose my sadness. I pack my trunk, embrace my friends, embark on the sea, and at last wake up in Naples, and there beside me is the stern fact, the sad self, unrelenting, identical, that I fled from. I seek the Vatican, and the palaces. I affect to be intoxicated with sights and suggestions, but I am not intoxicated. My giant goes with me wherever I go.
But the rage of travelling is a symptom of a deeper unsoundness affecting the whole intellectual action. The intellect is vagabond, and our system of education fosters restlessness. Our minds travel when our bodies are forced to stay at home.
Andrew Sullivan summarizes:
I find the above ideas fascinating but unpersuasive. As one of Sullivan's readers writes, "Inward and outward journeys are simply not opposed, and to pretend that they are in order to adhere stuffily to the superior excellence of the inward journey is just irritating."
I've found that travel can awaken the inner journey. Some of my most contemplative thoughts have come while sitting on a bench in a foreign land, looking around and recognizing nothing, and retreating inward like one runs inside from a cold day for a cup of hot chocolate.
For a final, different take on the value of travel, here's a unique David Foster Wallace footnote from his Gourmet magazine piece on lobsters:
My personal experience has not been that traveling around the country is broadening or relaxing, or that radical changes in place and context have a salutary effect, but rather that intranational tourism is radically constricting, and humbling in the hardest way—hostile to my fantasy of being a real individual, of living somehow outside and above it all.
As a tourist, you become economically significant but existentially loathsome, an insect on a dead thing.