6 Reasons to Try Slow Travel

Last week, my family and I headed off to Canada for a long-awaited and much needed holiday.

Truth is, the last few months of 2014 have been intense and I’m feeling more than a little burnt out. I had great intentions of pre-scheduling posts over the Christmas period, but at some point I had to decide between sleep and work, and sleep won. Besides, running myself in to the ground is pretty much the opposite of slow living isn’t it? So I thought I’d better walk the walk and not just talk the talk.

After over a week offline and without so much as a word written, I’m feeling good. In fact I’m feeling more positive than I have in months – the passion, the excitement and the drive are back and I’m excited to see what the New Year brings. I guess sometimes all we need is to take a few steps back in order to see the bigger picture.

So while my family and I are still on holidays and will be until late January (and I will be mostly offline for that time – checking in very sporadically) I have some new posts scheduled between now and January 1. After that I have a 26-part series due to go out once a day until I return on January 28.

I hope you and your loved ones had a wonderful Christmas, and enjoy a safe and happy New Year.

For us, this trip is all about slow.

Slow travel – to us, at least – is simply saying no. No to rushing. No to cramming. No to endless touring. No to nameless museums and galleries that are simply an item on a to-do list, a photo on a memory card, a thing we can say, “Yep, did that. What’s next?”

We’ve been looking forward to this trip for over a year, and will be away from home for just over a month. And what’s been interesting is the number of people who have asked if we’ll be touring around a lot, considering the length of our holiday. Aside from a detour to Disneyland on the way home (I know, I know, it’s the antithesis of simple living, but our kids are 4 and 5 – what are you gonna do?) we’re staying in one place the entire time.

And while it’s occasionally tempting to try and cram as many destinations, tours, sights, museums and galleries into our time, it’s really not appealing to us. Instead, we prefer to view our holidays through the lens of slow: quality over quantity and depth over breadth.

I know many people see that as a lost opportunity but we don’t see travel as a reason to be on the move constantly. Rather it’s an opportunity to reconnect, relax and spend time together as a family – time that doesn’t involve endless early mornings, transfers and airports. Neither Sparky nor I find that in the slightest bit relaxing, so it was a no-brainer to stay in the one place.

Besides, spending a month in the gorgeous Canadian Rockies is hardly a chore, you know?

I also think the desire to cram as much as possible in to a holiday has something to do with fear – fear that we will miss out on Something Amazing. Fear that we won’t get to see all the sights we want to see. Fear that we won’t get the chance to tick off every bucket list item. Fear that someone else’s experiences might be more impressive.

And I get that. I really do. But the reality is none of us will see every sight, every wonder, every monument, every ocean, every pyramid, every festival, every tribe, every mountain, every village, every church. Even if you started travelling now and didn’t stop until the day you died, you wouldn’t see it all.

So isn’t it better to see – and I mean really see – one or two places? To get amongst locals? To play where they play? To eat where they eat? To gain a better understanding of different people, places and cultures?

Slow travel helps us have:

  • deeper experiences
  • a better understanding of the places we visit
  • a less touristy experience
  • a more restful holiday
  • more time for experiences
  • less time travelling

Take today for example. I’ve spent the morning writing in the library and am about to walk in to town and have a coffee and some lunch. I might take the long way back, through the woods (although I might not, considering it’s -10C) and when I get back to our apartment we will probably watch a movie together.

To some this probably sounds like a wasted opportunity (think of the sights we could have been seeing! the tours we could have been doing!) but to us it’s what makes a trip worthwhile. I feel part of a community when we travel like this. I’m more prone to talking to strangers. More likely to discover a little hole-in-the-wall restaurant. More inclined to have an afternoon nap and a glass of wine before dinner.

It’s more of the good stuff and less of the stress. Life, but simpler.

8 Responses to 6 Reasons to Try Slow Travel

  1. I am with you 100%. When our kids were small (4 years old), we took them on a whirlwind tour of Europe. I’d never been and let their dad plan it all with little input from me. (I had 4 year-old twins and a full-time job outside our home. The antithesis of slow.) When we went back 3 years later, I insisted that we stay each place at least a week–for just the reasons you mention. It still wasn’t slow enough for me, but it was so much better. My best memories of that time are of my children playing with other kids while we lingered over a simple meal in small restaurants that didn’t cater to tourists. My worst are of standing in long lines at some must-see destination. Hope you enjoy your time away. It sounds lovely.

  2. You are very right about slow traveling. I tend to get carried away when I travel: I want to see everything, do everything, meet everyone. However, slowing down and really enjoying the moment makes for a much richer experience. Thank you for reminding us of it!

  3. Wishing you a wonderful ‘slow’ holiday!!!
    When our daughter was 3 1/2 yrs we went to Europe to stay with family living and working in Belgium. We planned 2 weeks in Italy and the rest with no plans. We flew into Italy and drove straight out of the city and into the country, one week in Tuscany and one week in Umbria. No itinerary, just a car and a desire to explore. People we knew didn’t understand why we weren’t going to Rome and Florence and looking at the leaning tower of Pisa. Yes, one day I’d love to. But the idea of doing all that rushing and being in a tourist trap just hasn’t go appeal to us. We prefer to be travellers rather than tourist. It leaves you open to really see a place as the locals do…you are so in for a treat :D
    Warm regards,

  4. Slow travel also means you’re much more likely to remember your experiences than if you cram every moment with things to see and do!

  5. I totally agree with you in regards to slow travel.
    We travel by train once or twice a year to visit our daughter and family in New Mexico, (We live in Michigan). We sit and visit with so many different people on the way and we are relaxed when we arrive.
    We also have a son who has lived in Florence Italy for 17 years, and when we go to visit there we rent a flat and live like natives. it gives you a real feeling for a country you are in.

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