Give slow travel a chance

logo-3.3-with-bgOnce you are back from a two-week trip to Europe, it feels good to tell people back home you saw six countries, doesn’t it?

But the part about the trip you’d rather not dwell on is that you could not spend more than an hour at the Louvre because you still had to see Eiffel Tower, the Montmartre and five other places by the end of the day. You also tend to skip the part about visiting St. Peter’s Basilica but not finding enough time to go to the Vatican Museum to see Sistine Chapel.

In fact, you realise later that you spent more time travelling from one place to another than taking in a particular place, especially if you were doing the trip with a tour company that promised you the “highlights” of Europe.

A sightseeing bus in Paris

A sightseeing bus in Paris

For many of us, travel is checking items off a list. I will speak for myself and there was a time when it was true for me.

Before my first trip to Europe, which was going to be a five-week backpacking through the western part of the continent, I was considering visiting a lot more than the six countries I eventually went to. During my research for the trip, I came across a sentence somewhere that went something like “Europe is not a place you want to run through.”

I took the advice seriously and have applied it in all my travel since them. It’s never about the number of places you touch, it’s about having the best possible experience of the place and the only way to do that is spending some time there.

Yes, at times, I do feel I’m missing out when too many people tell me to go somewhere or do something at a place and I am unable to. For example, a number of people had told me to check out the catacombs in Paris and I had not been able to do that. But I did experience the city in my own way — walked around for hours, sat by the Siene, ate my sandwich lunch sitting in a little park with no tourists near the Eiffel Tower, learnt to make quiche Lorraine from a friend, took the metro and got wet in the rain. That was my Paris.

Consider sitting by a river and doing nothing but watching boats pass by one evening

Consider sitting by a river and doing nothing but watching boats pass by one evening

Of course, I do not want to be judgmental and preachy because there is no one-style-fits-all when it comes to travel. Everyone has their own style, preferences and reasons for the way they travel.

For someone going to, say Greece, who think they might never have the chance to return, may want to rush through the country touching all the places they think they ought to see in their short time there. This is just the style of travel that suits them.

All I’m saying is, if you’ve never tried slow travel, consider it.

If you have a week in Italy, spend your days in Rome and a couple of places in Toscana. Yes, you will be leaving Venice, Naples, Florence and all those other places for the next time, but trust me, you will make as many memories, if not more, from that one slow week.

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