Some of you might be familiar with the concept of slow travel as it has become quite a popular trend in the online travel communities lately.
More and more people are giving up traditional tourism and engaging in this old-new way of discovering the world.
Is this about moving forward physically using a slow vehicle instead of a fast one? Not exactly, although this is undeniably part of the concept. Being a slow traveller is much more of a mindset than the actual way of moving towards our destinations: instead of rushing through cities/countries checking must-see sights off our lists, spending more time discovering a smaller region, really getting close to the local culture and actually noticing the people of the land.
This can mean renting a cottage somewhere for a week or two and riding around the surroundings by bike or taking a walking tour. However, this can be as simple as using the train instead of an airplane to cover longer distances and getting familiar with the landscape. But whatever we do, slowing down and staying present moment by moment is an essential part of the slow travel experience.
It must have happened to all of you that you came home from your holidays more exhausted than you had been before you set off. This experience is completely normal as during the holidays we are constantly exposed to new impressions which need to be “digested” before we are putting ourselves out there for more. The problem with traditional holiday-making is that we usually do not have the time for this process as we try to stuff as many programs into our travel schedule as possible. We want to see and try everything, and even more.
Is it worth it?
I asked myself this question for the first time in the summer of 2014, while backpacking in South-East Asia. There was a period of several weeks, even months during which we hardly spent 2 consecutive nights in the same bed and more than a week in a country. New impressions were bombarding us day by day which we could not take in anymore after a couple of weeks. We literally fell into our beds at night and woke up still feeling exhausted in the morning.
Did we see lots of beautiful places?
Did we get enriched with invaluable experiences?
However, we had no time and energy to really fee and to get intimate with the countries, not to mention really connect with its people.
No wonder that we had a motorbike accident at the end of this crazy trip in the Philippines, which had a clear message to us: STOP.
And we understood the signal.
This incident completely changed our mindset. This was the day when we turned into slow travelers.
In the summer of 2014 on a tiny island in the Philippines with our limbs covered with bandages we decided to – instead of crossing Thailand 5 times and checking everything off our bucket list – settle on one Thai island for at least a month or two, which in the end became three. This three month on Koh Pangan became one of the most life-changing experiences of our lives, so much so that if we had stuck to our bucket list that summer, we would definitely not be in South-India now.
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