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SLOW TRAVEL (OR HOW TO SPEND OUR TIME MORE WISELY)

We have lost our sense of time. We believe that we can add meaning to life by making things go faster. We have an idea that life is short - and that we must go fast to fit everything in. But life is long. The problem is that we don’t know how to spend our time wisely. 

Carlo Petrini, Founder of the Slow Food Movement

Beware The Cult Of Busy. 

It’s hard to get away from always being busy. We each have responsibilities to attend to, things we want to accomplish, content we hope to consume, dreams we wish to realize and a never ending list of practical tasks to get done. We get so used to feeling overwhelmed, the habit becomes hard to break.

Many of us travel to escape our every day, but end up carrying the same frantic energy along with us. This tendency to believe that more is more manifests itself in tourism practices like manic sightseeing, whirlwind itineraries, competitive country counting, and the persistent anxiety of fear-of-missing-out. Being continually busy steals away what makes travel so potentially transformative: connecting with others, developing greater understanding and reflecting on who we are.

An Opportunity To Slow Down.

One of the reasons that travel can be such a powerful lever in terms of personal growth is because it is a great excuse to let the distractions fall away and actually focus our attention. Finally, we can Be. Here. Now.

The philosophy of leading your journey with this intention is often described as slow travel. This approach prioritizes the depth of an experience over the breadth. It is not about an amount of time a trip should take or the pace at which things happens, but a mindset. 

Instead of arriving with a bloated agenda, let us slip into the rhythm of local life. We choose to allow time to wander about, make connections and contemplate a new environment. Slow travel is rooted in the idea that travel is for learning; about ourselves, about others and about the world around us.

The Method Of Slow Travel

Slow travel can be practiced whether you are taking a weekend getaway or a sabbatical abroad. Whenever you are following your deep curiosity, you are traveling slow. 

Understand The Environment. Before you depart or even during your journey, research the culture (including religion, art, politics, language, economy, customs, history and geography) of your destination. Seek out stories beyond the dominant narrative and you will enrich the context of your experience. 

Meet The People. Leave the path beaten down by tourists and find out what the residents love about their place in the world. Choose accommodations, restaurants and activities that encourage you to develop relationships with the people who live there. Engage in conversations. Ask questions. Listen. 

Be Open To Learning. Every community has brilliance to share. Find the experts, masters and leaders who are willing to teach and spend some time with them. These lessons could come as organized workshops you can look forward to in advance or could appear as informal encounters with an accidental armchair philosopher at a random cafe. Create space for both. 

Schedule Some Free Time. It is exciting to make some plans, but avoid too much of a good thing. Oftentimes the greatest delights are the unexpected ones. Indulge in the luxury of uncommitted hours and be open to whatever adventure awaits.

When we commit to slow travel we accept that we will not see or do everything (as if that were even possible). Instead, we trust that what we do experience will matter. Perhaps if we can learn to travel slow enough, we can begin to travel profoundly. 

Image by Capturing The Human Heart