Traveling slowly is a special pleasure – and you should do it. The next time you have to drive long distances, take two more days and slowly walk on the back roads. Or take a train across the country instead of taking the plane. Or better yet, spend a few weeks cycling or walking somewhere. The more you go slowly, the better.
I like to travel slowly. At least once a year for a few years, I started a deliberately slow journey. The type of trip where the essential is the journey and stops along the way, not the starting and ending points. I traveled 250 miles through rural Spain, traveled 700 miles along the European coast, spent three days on a 2250 mile train from Chicago to Portland, and traveled more miles than I can count on the roads. mountain and country towns.
Each of these trips has been incredible. I think of them much more often than during a luxurious beach holiday or a city vacation I visited. Here's why.
You see more
Traveling slowly gives you time to take action. If you cross the continent at 500 km / h, you do not see anything. Big cities and mountain ranges blink below. Even on a highway, you do not see much – driving at 100 km / h surrounded by 10 wheels requires concentration. You can not look around and enjoy what you are going through.
The great things you see when you arrive at your great destination are very good, but I found that the little random things I experienced along the way were much more memorable. Of course, getting up to the Empire State Building was cool, but nothing prevented it from surviving the storm of a hurricane in Mobile, Alabama, or the beer that I had drunk after traveling 20 miles in the fog through the Spanish passes.
Traveling slowly also allows you to go further. When a friend and I took his classic Mustang along the Wild Atlantic Way in Ireland, we traveled well under 100 miles a day. We stayed in small Irish towns and ate in rural pubs. By discovering five cities and twenty pubs for a few days, we could really get an idea of the west coast. If we had just stopped in Galway and said it was over, we would have missed so much.
You see the changes
And it's not just the things you live that are great. It's the transition between them.
In my train through America, I saw Louisiana swamps turn into Kentucky landscapes, and the land of Big Sky, Montana, slowly gave way to the mountains of the national park Glaciers. When traveling on the road in Ireland, we saw cow fields become peat bogs becoming a rugged, rocky and unworkable coast. In Spain, we traveled the Andalusian mountains of the Atlantic Ocean to the ancient pilgrimage site of Santiago de Compostela.
On every trip, seeing the ground change slowly under my feet was amazing. The mountains began like a dark haze on the horizon and, as the hours went on, grew bigger until we set their peaks, or even held on to them. It puts things in perspective.
You're in trouble
Trouble from time to time is a good thing. Constant stimulation is exhausted. The non-stop excitement leaves you craving for more. That's why games like Candy Crush and social media like Facebook create such an addiction.
Traveling slowly is a great way to get a little bored. The slowly changing landscape is amazing, but it's not exciting. Impressive views are interspersed with long periods of very little. In a time of constant entertainment, traveling slowly is a wonderful reset.
And when you get bored a bit, you start thinking. It's the perfect time to think about what you want in life and whether you're on the right track. You can not help but turn the big questions in your head.
That's unless you talk to your fellow travelers. When you have hours together, you really have the opportunity to talk. You go from jokes and generalizations to deep, uncomfortable and honest talks.
You appreciate the distance
For thousands of years, distance was one of the most important factors of human existence. Many people have never gone much further than a few hours of walking from home. Generations of Irish people have left the sea to travel to America, looking for a new life knowing that they could never come back. Now I can fly from Dublin to New York in six hours.
Slowly covering a long distance gives you a real idea of what a barrier distance was. On foot in Spain, we walked between 15 and 20 miles a day. On a highway, your car covers the journey in less than 15 minutes (a plane does it in less than two), but it took us six to eight hours.
Traveling slowly like this, you realize how important everything was, from the Roman Empire to the California Gold Rush. Cheap Ryanair flights to Rome do not have the same effect.
Everything is in the journey
It's a bit of an ordinary cliché to say that life is a matter of travel, no destination, but at least when it comes to slow travel, it's true. Where you go is much less important than the way you go there. It's the people and situations you encounter along the way that make the journey memorable, not your final destination.
You must not go long. Even a 200-mile loop over two days by car will leave you plenty of time to start seeing the places you cross. However, if you can go further, more slowly, it's even better. It took us three weeks to cover the 250 miles. It's an experience I would repeat tomorrow.