This article is being re-posted from FLiP Magazine February 2016. FLiP Magazine is a great publication with insight into pop-culture for both men and women! Aeri Rose is a regular contributor to FLiP W, the female focused half of the magazine. You should definitely check it out, and subscribe for the free digital editions! Even if I’m quiet here…I’ll always find something to say there!
“Slow Travel: Be In The Journey”
Did you know that the average airplane travels approximately 550 miles per hour at a cruising altitude of 36,000 feet above sea level? Thats pretty high and pretty fast. But here’s a question: on your next trip, while traveling 550 mph, 36,000 feet above sea level, how many new experiences will you have? If you are an avid traveler and a frequent flyer probably not many. How many new people will you meet? Maybe two if you’re the type to strike up a conversation with your seat mates. Put that way, the fast and efficient travel by air doesn’t seem very great at expanding your life experiences does it? Not particularly. Thats why this month’s article is all about slow travel, and enjoying the act of traveling as much as the destinations themselves. Don’t believe me? Here are five reasons why you should try to incorporate slow travel into your next adventure.
Delighting the Senses
First off, what IS slow travel? Slow travel is seeing more by seeing less. It does away with the tours that offer a mad dash overview of a place; of stopping just long enough at each site to snap a photo in front of this famous building or that ancient sculpture before rushing off to the next attraction. No, slow travel moves at a relaxed pace. It is walking or biking in a city, it is taking the train or the boat to the next destination, and it is quietly observing and absorbing the beauty that surrounds you. How often have you traveled the same routes at home, barely registering the changing scenery on your daily routine? With fast travel it is easy to pack that ambivalence and take it along with you. With slow travel, you can leave those blinders at home. Open your senses to your surroundings. Explore the plants on your trip. What colors are they? How do they smell? Listen. Is this city full of street performers? Are the bird songs different from park to park? Has the enticing scent of a corner bakery attracted your nose? Go in and have a snack. Taste something new and decadent. With slow travel, your trip will be a delight for all your senses.
Meeting New Friends and Travel Angels
As mentioned above, slow travel is about exploring all modes of transportation, and taking roads less taken. Sometimes that means you’ll get lost. It does. Trust me. But thats OK! Because with slow travel you don’t have to have a schedule. So you’re never lost, you’re never running late, you’re just taking a different route. And despite what language or alphabet you’re trying to decipher, the expression for “bemused confusion” is pretty universal. So if you’re feeling uncertain, don’t be afraid to ask for help! Ask for directions. Ask for advice when ordering a meal or planning a day trip. The kindness of strangers is a real and wonderful thing, and often locals will happily offer advice, directions, or recommendations. I have lost count of the number of times travel angels have come to my assistance when alone and lost. They have hailed me cabs, driven me across town to catch ferries, helped me order, and protected my luggage. Some I met only once, and some I’m friends with to this day.
Immersing Yourself in New Cultures
Did you know that in China some travelers pay for a train ticket with no seat. They stand in the isles, or sit on a stool they bring along with them. Often travelers with seats will take turns in the isle, offering their seats to these other travelers.
Did you know that on the days long train journey across the Russian Siberia you can always find someone in the meal car willing to play cards. Or that at every stop there are old ladies selling delicious fresh piroshki and smoked fish?
Did you know that in Morocco it is common to share a cab with strangers if you are both going in the same general direction?
Travel is an important part of any culture. So to truly immerse yourself in a new country, you should make every attempt to try to travel like the locals do. You are really denying yourself a gratifying and enlightening experience if your only travel experience is the flight in and the cab to your resort.
Bolstering Your Self-Confidence
While living in Hangzhou, China, I discovered that the most difficult thing to master was the public bus system. Bus stops had giant maps with complex bus routes smeared with Chinese characters. Even the numbers were written in Hanzi, rather than Arabic numbers. It took weeks of riding busses just to see where they led, getting unbelievably lost, and eventually hailing a cab home in exasperation, until I finally got a halfway reasonable understanding of the system. It was an incredible victory the day that I finally rode the bus from my apartment across town to the imports grocery store without getting lost. That french cheese was victory cheese. I was powerful, clever, and self-reliant. I had conquered that bus! Never mind that I got lost again the next day. Because I knew that I could figure it out eventually. And that is a great feeling.
Finding Hidden Gems and Surprise Discoveries
I know it is tempting to chase after each ancient tourist site, infamous restaurant, and trendy bar recommended by Lonely Planet, Trip Advisor, and WikiTravel. But do you know why those trendy places got discovered in the first place? Because some travel writer out there knows that the real secret to exploration is to wander the less beaten paths looking for the hidden gems. Be your own trip advisor! You go find those surprise discoveries, and then you can be the clever traveler that impresses all your friends with little known wonderful recommendations.
I hope I’ve convinced you. Slow travel is wonderful travel. It is delightful, relaxing, enlightening, and inspiring. But don’t take my word for it. On your next trip, try to slow it down a bit, and be amazed by all the incredible experiences you’ll have. I guarantee it.
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Have you ever had the urge to just drop what you were doing, pack a bag, and set out on an adventure? Seven years and over two dozen countries later, Aeri Rose is proof that excitement, independence, and discovery await those who are bold enough to say “yes” to life’s craziest choices. When not exploring the world with her little grey backpack, Aeri Rose an be found living a nomadic lifestyle traveling the United States as an artist and entrepreneur. To follow Aeri on all her adventures, check her out online at travelingwithaeri.com; or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/aerirose.