We all have our own style of traveling. Some like to explore and see as much as they can in the usually limited span of time they have. Others would rather sit back and slow down the pace of their otherwise hectic life when on holiday. For some, like me, it changes over time.
When I started traveling, I was initially plagued by the Fear of Missing Out or FOMO as it is famously abbreviated. I would want to see everything a place had to offer, checking off lists created by other travellers and marketers. Soon, though, I started realizing that while I was seeing a lot, I was experiencing very little. As Pico Iyer writes, “Visiting a new town is like having a conversation. The more you leave assumptions at home, I’ve found, the better you can hear whatever it is that the destination is trying to say to you”. I, too, wanted to make my own memories, my own trails and not just validate the opinion of others.
As I pondered over this, I also realized that the fondest memories from my travels were very rarely those where I checked ten sights off my list amidst a plethora of rushing tourists. In fact, they were almost always of moments when I decided to slow time down. Those unhurried conversations with strangers, those hours I spent soaking in the hues of the sunset by the sea, those impromptu plans with new wander mates, those authentic local culinary experiences… I realized that the real essence of travel lies in the connections we make along the way.
I spent a couple of weeks in Bhutan in the summer of 2015 and I believe that that was when the joy of slow travel truly sank in. It made me realize more than ever before that that was indeed the best way to travel. It gives you a chance to experience those serendipitous moments that truly inspire more travel.
Slow travel to me however doesn’t have to mean skipping popular sights altogether. After all, most of these attractions are popular for a reason. A few of my most special travel experiences are of the so called popular tourist destinations. The cruise to Halong Bay, breathing in history at Hagia Sophia and the Angkor Wat sunrise are some examples. It just means spending enough time to truly understand what I witness. Getting under the skin of the place I am visiting. Choosing quality over quantity. And choosing entire experiences over just sight seeing.
What are your views on the pace of travelling? How do you like to go about it?