The pot boils away, its bubbles popping as the week’s memories play through your mind. They’re not a freight train of flickering clips, but a gentle wave of blending scenes. You stir through the fresh ingredients you picked up at the market you found on your wanderings, the one you’ve gone back to everyday to pour over its treasure-trove of delicacies.
You smile remembering how you stumbled through your conversations with the friendly foreign shopkeepers you got to know in your daily quests to try something new, something local, something they personally recommended to you.
That something new you got today, the best of its kind in the world they assured you, is now rising in a mouthwatering aroma. It’s part of a local dish you’ve never cooked before, but feeling inspired by the surroundings you’ve been soaking in you couldn’t wait to give it a shot. Your stomach is rumbling, but you’re not eating to nourish an exhausted body, you’re just hungry to savour the results of an experience you never could’ve gotten before you jetted off from home.
This slow food, slow thoughts and slow days have all been possible because of one thing. Slow travel.
What is slow travel?
If you’ve ever come back from a trip feeling like you needed a holiday from your holiday then you’ve probably been travelling fast. Sweeping through Europe in a couple of weeks, ticking off England, Spain, France, Germany and Italy, a day in each city, two for the big ones.
Some quick selfies at the Eiffel Tower and the Colosseum, tick and tick, but barely enough time to find your own favourite pizza or pastry before you’re up at the crack of dawn racing again to somewhere new. It’s a whirlwind of excitement but for most there’s only so long they can keep up the pace.
Slow travel on the other hand is more like a breeze, where you linger somewhere for days, weeks or months at a time. Unlike the fast-travelling whirlwind darting from here to there, you’re more in harmony with the locals. You circulate through a bookshop unhurried, you criss cross from parks to ports without rush, you amble through a neighbouring suburb or town which you had no idea existed before you came.
Soon you start getting a feel for the people and their way of life. Sure, you’re not about to he mistaken for a Margaux or a Fabrizio as best you might try and rock that scarf or pronounce Sauvingon Blanc, but isn’t it fun to at least pretend for a moment that you’re living the life of somebody else.
Stress less with slow travel
Swamped with work and in a rut of routine is when daydreams inevitably turn to packing your bags and jumping on a plane to somewhere new. Time is something we’re always short of while stress is in abundance. So why not reverse that equation with slow travel, giving yourself more time and less stress. Taking the time to immerse yourself in a foreign culture is a reminder that travel is the ultimate luxury.
It’s important to know just what you’re travelling for – is it about the places you visit, or is it about how the journey makes you feel as well? If you’re wanting to relax then constantly travelling, checking in and getting the lay of the land can be exhausting – something which is often forgotten in the excitement of planning. You’ve heard the expression “Rome wasn’t built in a day”, it means great things take time.
A holiday is no different, and it’s a good way to remember there’s no way you’re going to truly see all that it has to offer in a day either.
See more with slow travel
With a quick glance you can gaze up at the Empire State Building, but it’s only with time that you discover the nooks and crannies of Manhattan down below. If ever there was somewhere to slow travel, New York is it. A few days in the Big Apple and you wouldn’t even come close to peeling away the surface.
There are the big name broadway shows, but there are small jazz clubs too. There are the endless pathways through Central Park, but there are the streets of Brooklyn and Harlem as well. There are the bright lights of Times Square, but there are the dim lights of a dusty blue-collar sports bar with the baseball playing also. There’s the Statue of Liberty, but there’s the endless wonder of the American Museum of National History on top of that.
There’s the big picture, then there are the little details. Time lets you focus on the nuances of a place and not just what stands out the most. Wherever in the world you are you can take the time to enjoy the local nature, architecture, music, art, food and sport of everyday people’s lives. The more time you spend immersed in these daily pursuits outside of the tourist traps, the more you will truly see of somewhere.
How to slow travel
The most famous stretch of highway in the USA isn’t the fastest. In some places it’s beaten up, cracked, unpaved and pretty much impassable. But the Historic Route 66 isn’t about getting from one place to the other in the quickest time possible, that’s what the Interstate Highway System which bypassed it long ago is for.
This old highway snaking past ghost towns and faded gas stations and motels through the country’s heart is a journey into its past. It’s a slice of Americana which you just can’t get rocketing down the concrete tentacles of the Interstate. It’s slower, and that’s the point.
Taking the road less travelled is one of the best ways to get the most out of slow travel. Because as much as slow travel is a mindset, it’s also about the method. It’s why if you have the time then walk somewhere instead of taking a taxi. Instead of flying between cities jump on a train or a bus to see the the world in between. And while there’s nothing wrong with slow travelling from a hotel room, you could also rent out a local’s room, apartment or house.
That way you can get busy in the kitchen and when it’s time to finally take that pot off the boil and tuck into your shot at the local cuisine you can call yourself something like a local, if just until whenever it is you decide to leave. You are leaving, right?