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Slow travel connects you more

Many people dream of traveling and going places. Having dreams and setting goals is invigorating. Pursuing them with focus and determination is crucial, but becoming too absorbed in these pursuits can lead us to miss the present and lose opportunities to connect with people and their communities. Here are ten tips to travel slow.

I live on a sailboat. It takes me places. Before the sailboat, I used a bike a lot to cover distances. Funnily enough, they are about the same speed. I also have traveled by plane, train, and automobile. But I prefer slower modes of travel. If I could, I would take a slow boat anywhere. There's a sense of being stationary yet still moving through time and space. Slow travel is an act of being in the present. Fast travel is an exercise that requires endurance and efficiency to get there.

That is why I prefer being in a place rather than the process of going to a place. The experience `in` the moment is important. It’s the people, the senses, the absorption of nuance in verbal and body language. It’s about getting to know and becoming part of a community.

Sure, there is a cadence, a forward momentum on a bicycle and boat, and a sense of being present, part of a community or place, even if for a short time. Traveling by train, plane, or automobile is more like being in a capsule, a controlled environment, measured to help you endure going somewhere.

My NGO work involved working with rural communities. I am deeply interested in how communities work, behave, survive, and look forward. I guess that is why I prefer going slowly. A favorite Japanese theologian, Kosuke Koyama, wrote a book called The 3 MPH God. Walking speed is the speed of love, he said. I read his book on a 3000 km multi-week bike ride in Japan. While in the mountains of northern Japan, tendonitis in both knees forced me off the bike and to walking speed. It helped me slow down even more and be aware of the world.

With slow travel, you have already arrived. You are there, moment by moment. There is a transition of view and perspective, but it is almost indiscernible, unpainfully so. That is why I like being someplace rather than going someplace.


Tips for Amplifying Your Slow Travel Experience

  1. Plan Flexible Itineraries: Allow room for spontaneity. Avoid rigid schedules and be open to detours and unexpected stops. This flexibility can lead to surprising and enriching experiences.

  2. Anchor in Local Spots: When sailing, find local harbors or anchorages where you can stay for a while. On a bicycle, choose small towns or villages for your stops. These places offer a more intimate glimpse into local life.

  3. Engage with fellow travelers:  Whether on the water or on the road, take the time to connect with other slow travelers. Share stories, tips, and experiences. These interactions can provide new perspectives and enhance your journey.

  4. Connect with the community: While hanging out with fellow travelers can be fun and informative, nothing beats making local friends and supporting local communities.  Buy local, and be sure to bear gifts of appreciation.  

  5. Explore on Foot: Once you’ve anchored or parked, explore the area on foot. Walking allows you to engage with the environment, notice small details, and interact more easily with locals.

  6. Document Your Journey: Keep a journal, photograph or sketch scenes from your travels. Documenting your experiences helps you savor each moment and allows you to reflect on your journey later.

  7. Learn Local Skills: Take the opportunity to learn a new skill relevant to the area, such as local sailing techniques, traditional crafts, or regional cooking. This will deepen your connection to the place and its culture.

  8. Stay Eco-Conscious: Respect the environment as you travel. Slow travel often brings you closer to nature, so be mindful of your impact. Practice sustainable habits to preserve the beauty and health of the places you visit.

  9. Immerse in Local Events: Look out for local festivals, markets, or cultural events. Participating in these can provide a rich, immersive experience and a chance to interact with the community.

  10. Create a Routine: Establishing a small routine, like a morning walk or a daily visit to a local café, can help you feel more settled and integrated into the local life, even if you’re passing through.

By integrating these tips into your slow travel, you can amplify your experience of being in a place, even if it is gently floating by walking through. . Embrace the journey and immerse yourself in the moment to create lasting memories and connections.


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