There are hundreds and hundreds of must-see spots in the world; a truthful travelers’ bucket list would be bottomless. And so, a lot of travelers are hell bent on checking off the 100 great sites in the world and go rushing from the Colloseum to the Eiffel Tower to the Great Wall to the Pyramids.
But here’s another idea: Slow Travel.
The concept was first inspired by 19th century European travel writers, who were alarmed at the gathering speed of society (imagine if they saw us now!). The modern Slow Movement began as a contrarian reaction to increasing ubiquity of fast food – called Slow Food, which seeks to preserve traditional, regional cuisine based upon local farming and the local ecosystem.
Slow travel is about truly investigating a destination so that you gain an understanding of its sense of place. It’s about “living” in a spot for a week or so to get a flavor of how the locals live. It’s about gaining an appreciation for the deeper character of a place. It’s about forgetting the checklist and wandering down to the street corner café for an afternoon.
This approach is considered a complement to eco-travel – slow travelers are interested in connecting with a community while traveling; green travelers are interested in connecting with – and preserving – the community in a different way. But both are about creating deeper connections. Both usually focus on unhurried, low-impact visits to destinations.
A couple of years ago, Nicky Gardner wrote A Manifesto For Slow Travel:
“Slow travel is not about money or privilege. Slow travel is a state of mind. It is about having the courage not to go the way of the crowd. Popular wisdom may suggest that a first visit to Italy must necessarily include Venice, Florence and other ‘must-see’ spots. But in fact there are no ‘must-see’ destinations.”
I’d dispute the idea that there are no must-see attractions, but the point is clear – an unhurried week in Venice or Rome or Florence or wherever is very likely to be more rewarding than a checklist-driven romp that leaves you exhausted when you return from a week or two away.
After all, if your goal is to escape the rat race for a fortnight and reconnect with the rest of your life, going slow might be just the ticket.
Photo by StoryTravelers.