You Need to Slow Down
Slowing down, getting to know the culture, and taking your time is wonderful advice that travel writers and, yes, even travel advisors give to clients. We sometimes have the benefit of being able to spend more time in one place and have a flexibility that others may not. But, to me, "slow travel" isn't about moving at a snail's pace or spending weeks in one destination. It is simply avoiding the urge to cram in as much as possible into a short period of time...and eliminating the possibility for one of those happy "accidents" of travel.
So many people want to "do" Venice, Rome, Florence, and Tuscany in a 7-day Italian vacation. Or all four major Hawaiian Islands in 8 or 9 days. Or join one of the "If it's Tuesday it must be Belgium" whirlwind escorted tours of Europe...8 countries in 14 days! I understand why people feel like they have to squeeze so much into a visit (I'm guilty of this myself), but let's really think about this:
Every time you move locations, you have to get up, pack, grab breakfast, transfer to the airport or train station, go through security, wait for your flight or train, fly or rail to the next destination, possibly fight immigration & customs, wait for your luggage, transfer to the next hotel, check-in, find your room, and throw your suitcase on the bed. All you really want to do at that point is take a nap! But you can't...you have to hurry out the door to see everything that awaits in your new location...because you only have 2 days here! (Also, a major reason why I'm a big advocate of cruising--you eliminate all that daily hustle and bustle.)
Figure that each move also has a price tag attached for transfers, checked luggage fees, the cost of your train ticket or flight, taxis and expensive junk food you pick up in the airport or train station. It can add up quickly...and not just in your wallet.
You WILL burn out...even if you are on a cruise, you still need to give yourself downtime between more active excursions. You will be exhausted with no memories of your vacation except for the photos on your phone, and your desire to sleep in. The faster you go and the more you do, the less you EXPERIENCE. The less you relish in your experiences and gosh darn it...hard-earned dollars got you there!
Slowing down and enjoying your surroundings also opens you up to the possibility of experiencing one of those "happy accidents" of travel. Like the time you start talking to a cafe owner and end up sharing a bottle of wine and laughing the afternoon away. Or take a left turn off the hiking path because that mountain looks like one that needs to be climbed. I'll never forget the happy accident that happened to some of my best friends and I in Tunisia, as we were leaving the hotel where their wedding would be. My friend's soon-to-be husband cranked up the music in the car, and we all danced around in the parking lot. THOSE are the memories that stick, and that you will always treasure!
So slam on those brakes-- so-to-speak! Spend less time repacking and more time in the cafe getting to know the local people. Duck into that book store that looks fascinating. Destinations are more than check marks on a "bucket list". Instead of seeing things quickly...why not experience them DEEPLY?
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