« QUIZ: Where Did These Invasive Species Come From? | Main | Microplastics: What are they and why are they a problem? »
Thursday
Feb222018

The Advantages Of Slow  Travelling

Flickr | Iñaki Pérez de AlbénizIf you want to make the most of your holidays, meet a new culture and collect remarkable stories, you might find interesting the concept of slow travelling. It’s less comfortable, it takes more time and you won’t take as many sightseeing pics for Instagram as mainstream tourists. It can be even dangerous and annoying sometimes. So why does this concept attract an increasing number of travellers around the world?

A new perception of space and time

It’s obvious from the name that slow travelling takes lots of time. Slow travellers usually avoid planes and prefer to take an annoying and uncomfortable night ride in a bus. This aspect, though, is very important. In his book, “The Idle Traveller”, Dan Kieran explains that by going by a plane, we lose our connection to space and we don’t feel like we travelled to a remote destination. When we move from one airport to another with identical design, we miss the experience of gradual changes in a landscape. For slow travellers, the journey is the goal.

Pixabay | Hermann

Slow travelling might seem to be time-consuming if we look at it from the perspective of Chronos. This ancient Greek god of quantitative time is well-known to West culture. Thanks to him, we tell our stories chronologically and measure the time in seconds, minutes and hours. A less known fact is, that Greek mythology talks also about Kairos, the god of qualitative time that makes us enjoy the present moment. During rushed and meticulously-planned holidays, one can hardly reach the moments of perfection. Meeting with Kairos can be very short, but the experience will stay with you for years.

Healthy body and mind

A slow traveller’s basic way of transportation is walking. Some pilgrims walk miles through foreign countries to their desired destination. If you want to start less radically, don’t worry to take a bus to go abroad. It’s always possible to walk in parks, beaches or captivating streets of cities at night. Walking’s healthier for a body, no need to mention the environmental reasons. Moreover, there’s a whole philosophy constructed around walking. Open any page of Henry D. Thoureau’s “Walking” and you will find out how mystical and poetic the simple walk can be. Slow travelling doesn’t only change the way of spending holidays, it’s a part of the whole attitude to living. “I had crossed some kind of portal and my frame of mind and perspective had changed,” wrote Dan Kieran during his walk in neighbourhoods.

Pixabay | cocoparisienne

Get free and collect outstanding stories

Imagine the situation. You’re standing on a road, no car passed you for endless minutes. The sun’s going down and it’s starting gradually raining. You’re cold and annoyed and desperate, wishing for a pair of warm socks, a cup of tea and one kind car driver that would give you a ride to the nearest campsite. No one would want to appear in this situation, however, it’s exactly the time when you can meet Kairos. Also, once you really make it to a warm cabin with a cosy fireplace, you’ll have a great story to tell.

Now you probably expect that for slow travellers, travel guides are very limiting. Don’t be obliged to sightsee. Get free and allow yourself to get lost. Kieran advices to switch from travel guides to books by native authors. Fiction literature captures a lot of the county’s culture and tradition. Moreover, reading on the places, where the story is set, deepens the impression of both the book and the destination.

Meet locals (despite you don’t want to)

It’s hard to meet the culture in a closed hotel room. When you let a travel agency look after you on every step, you probably won’t need to talk to locals.  But once you start travelling slowly, you become dependent on their help. That might be terrifying, annoying and frustrating but talking to strangers will surely make you stronger.

Pixabay | inproperstyleAlso, culture isn’t contained only in monuments and museums, rather people are its bearers.  Instead of avoiding them, you can try to live with them and imitate their lifestyle. Shop in local stores, cook local food and experience some local activities. By doing this, you’ll also support the local community. It’s hard to meet residents when you rush from one tourist attraction to another. Sightseeing isn’t the place where locals would enjoy gathering, so find a nice café out of the city centre and enjoy some real unique atmosphere.

Eco-friendly travelling with purpose

Once you decide to slower your travel pace, you might find it difficult and also unnecessary to travel too far away. That opens new great opportunities to get to know your local environment and experience your hometown from a new tourist perspective. On a routine way to school or work, one can easily overlook exciting old buildings or varieties of flora in a park.

For Europeans, travelling to foreign countries is quite easy. You can choose from a variety of more eco-friendly alternatives. There are buses and trains, more adventurous souls can also hitch-hike through the continent. Although it sounds impossible, one determined traveller went on a journey from the Czech Republic to Japan avoiding a plane. She hitchhiked to Lithuania, took a bus to Moscow, spent eight days on Trans-Siberian Railway and arrived to Japan on a ferry. All of that in two weeks!

Pixabay | StockSnapEven if you desire to explore other continents, don’t feel guilty about flying. Especially when you travel with purpose. Many environmental documentarists, who fight against climate change, travel the world to make their movies and share the knowledge of remote communities that aren’t often heard. The resources used for their travels aren’t lost if their activity is meaningful. Projects focusing on conservation and community development are worthy as well!

By Eliška Olšáková - Online Journalism Intern

Frontier runs conservationdevelopmentteaching and adventure travel projects in over 50 countries worldwide - so join us and explore the world!

Get more from us on social media with FacebookTwitter, Instagram and YouTube.