I’d imagine that any long term travel you did in the company of someone like Miss South Carolina could be considered slow travel. This is not what I mean. What I mean by slow travel, is the process of taking the time to enjoy the ride; it’s going that little bit further down the rabbit hole, diving in and really experiencing a culture, a destination and it’s people before moving on.
When I travel slowly I generally try to eat local foods, stay with local people if possible and take the time to explore a destination and learn about the tiny nuances that separate it from it’s neighbors. For me it could mean getting off the beaten track a bit more or articipating somehow in the lives of the people around you and generally just immersing myself in the travel experience at a deeper level than simply tourism.
I know many people who love to travel slowly and would agree that it makes for a richer experience, but I also know plenty of people who love to zip from pace to place like a hummingbird on crack and have a fantastic time. It’s sometimes tough to travel slowly, especially when given only a limited amount of time at a destination (vacations/holidays for example, that’s why I quit my job to travel the world). As a rule I prefer to travel slowly where possible and really ‘soak’ up a destination before moving on. For me this could take only a few days, a week or even a month or more depending on the destination. Personally my preference would be get to know one place intimately rather than four destinations on only a superficial level but that’s just me.
Are you a slow traveler? Here’s 5 reasons you might be
1) Modern life’s too fast
We get hit by around 5,000 advertising messages each day. That’s a whole bunch of people trying to get your attention, combined with the uber connectivity of modern life, smart phones, tablets, WiFi, Social Media, email it’s a constant blur of information buzzing like an angry insect around our heads. If you ever feel overwhelmed with the pace and level of constant interaction in your day to day life, why not change the tempo? If this sounds pretty good the use slow travel as the perfect opportunity to unplug and smell the roses for a while, learn a local skill or just generally chill and enjoy the experience.
2) Vacations seem superficial
I used to get really frustrated with the amount of time I had to spend at a destination since I had to be back at work in 2 weeks. A acation is all about forgetting your ‘real’ life for a small time, it’s the pause button on the remote control of your mind. It’s only a temporary solution to a long term problem and so in the past these tastes of real travel have only seemed to make me more anxious to really experience a place and have left me more frustrated than satisfied. Sound familiar? Try spending the whole time you have in one place, instead of three and see how much deeper you can go in the same amount of time, as a bonus side note, slow travel makes for a more cost effective way to see a country instead of zipping around every few days.
3) Tourists give you the shits
I remember almost losing a leg to a rampaging pack of tourists in Kyoto who emerged from a bus like a herd of buffalo. Armed with ameras and ice creams they plodded towards me led by a tour guide holding a flag yelling something in what might have been English. They reminded me so much of a herd of cattle that words like stampede and crush blundered through my mind only moments before I was nearly trampled to death by a family of cow people from Scotland (no offence Scotland but I think the average weight of your population halved when these guys left).
Each and every major tourism site has them, and if you want to see the ‘sites’ you will just have to put up with lots of people but if you did spend the time and got to know the local area a little better you’re very likely to find alternative or very similar sites that have hardly been touched by the clumsy hooves of tourists. For example a fantastic alternative to Machu Picchu is the lesser known
Choquequirao, same thing way less people.
4) You prefer not to fly
While flying is the fastest (and sometimes also the cheapest) way to get from one place to another it’s usually also the least rewarding (apart from Virgin’s air hostesses!). There’s something far more romantic and adventurous about slowly travelling from place to place by train, ferry or road. You get to enjoy the sights, the people and the scenery at your own pace, it’s as much about the journey as it is about the destination. So next time you have the time to experience a land journey, opt for slower transport than planes, it’s often far more rewarding.
5) You like to meet new people
What’s life without our relationships? The people we spend our time with are what make life really worth living. Whether it’s our family, friends, partners or strangers we share our lives and our time with others, and in doing so genuinely enrich our own and other peoples experiences throughout life. Extend this to long term travel, how boring would a trip be if you never met anyone new, if you never spoke to a stranger or spent the whole time holed up in a private room? Slow travel gives you the time to meet new people and allows time for new relationships to blossom and develop in a way that a vacation or a fast paced trip never could.
I’ve had great experiences covering lots of ground when I travel but I think i’ve had more lasting and memorable experiences taking my time moving from place to place. Can you relate to any of these points? Maybe you should consider just cruising through your next trip, try halving the number of sites you want to see or spending a longer amount of time in each place, just remember to give it time and that slow travel only works if you really immerse yourself in the local culture.