What Slow Travel means for us
A game my husband and I love to play whenever we travel is spotting (obvious) tourists. We like to sit in a public place, people watch and focus on finding tourists and seeing how they behave.
Truth is there are as many ways to be a tourist as there are people. We all like to travel differently at our own pace. This is partly due to tourism becoming more accessible over time. No longer is travelling reserved for a few fortunate, even more so with the arrival of services such as Airbnb or Couchsurfing. One of the result of accessible travelling that has now surfaced is that travelling has become just another product people “consume”. People seem to not attach the same meaning to travelling as they once did when it was a rarity.
During our first travels together, my husband and I used to line up a bunch of activities and schedule arrivals and departure times so we race from one to the other and “maximize” our vacation time. We had to make sure we didn’t miss anything and got the most out of everything. But did we really? We could barely explain anything about what we’ve seen and where we had been unless we could show a series of Instagram shots.
We couldn’t tell you anything real about the city we’ve seen, about their monuments, its people, how they life, how they see life. We hadn’t really taken the time to create a deeper connection with our destination. Over time, we changed our views of travelling in that we valued travelling’s enriching side. We had to then embrace the unknown that comes with language barrier, cultural differences, and learned to appreciate the unexpected.
In many aspects of modern life, a return to basics is balancing the pendulum and travelling is no exception to that. Inspired by the “slow travel” movement, Rove also rejects what tourism has become in the 21st century. We favour a way of travelling that opens itself to local culture, new experiences and take it all in rather than to accumulate checklists.
We enjoy strolling around in a new city rather than rushing from point A to point B. We’ll enquire about how life is lived in a certain city even if that means asking a local and sounding weird. For us, that’s what travelling is all about. It’s simply another way to approach travelling and we find it much more interesting and fulfilling. That’s why we ended up staying 15 months in Spain or 2 months in Lisbon.
We realize that not everyone can travel for long periods of time but that’s not to say to can slow your roll during a short stay. Here are some ideas as to how you can easily include slow travelling in any trip:
+ Visit the same coffee shop every morning – get to know the owners, observe locals in their daily lives. Take that time to read about their culture.
+ Shop at local boutiques and farmers markets – talk with the locals, ask them their favourite spot or what their favourite recipes are.
+ Attend a language exchange – you’ll be certain to meet locals, expats and like-minded travellers. Travelling is about seeing how life is in other parts of the world and feeling enriched by it.
We tend to forget that often, the simplest things really are the most enriching.