I feel like a kind of Father António Vieira preaching the advantages of traveling slowly. Phrases such as "I want to see as much as possible" because "I do not do another trip like this" are often used to argue in favor of traveling fast, stopping only a short time in each place, in a landscape of cars, buses, cities, airplanes and attractions tourist attractions.
How many times have you seen a group of tourists arriving by bus to a monument, visiting the monument in 30 or 45 minutes, before getting on the bus to the next attraction? Is that what you want for your travels? I do not.
Here comes the purpose of a e-mail which I received yesterday, asking:
I am planning a trip through Central America, between Mexico and Venezuela, at most 15 days. What do you think you should not miss in this area?
Either I misunderstood, or this friend of mine wanted to go from Venezuela to Mexico in two weeks. I replied: "15 days? My advice is do not do this "; and when he told me he would have to be in Venezuela, I suggested that he go to neighboring Colombia first and concentrate on one country.
Some time ago, in a conversation with a couple who was going to tour the world in 4 months with their daughter, I tried to make them see that it was better to reduce the number of destinations on the planned itinerary because they would spend a lot of time on airplanes and buses, from place to place instead of enjoying the trip. Unsuccessfully. A few days ago I saw this message on Facebook, written by them:
It is just a month ago that we began this enormous adventure around the world. A month in which we already did a lot of things, but that passed very quickly. Here are some statistics:
- 3 continents (Europe, Africa, Asia)
- 11 flights
- 10 countries (Mozambique, South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia, Thailand, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam)
- 18 hotels / guesthouses different
They read well: 10 countries in a month (which gives an average of 3 days per country), 18 different hotels (which implies changing of poiso more than day-yes-day-no), 11 flights! The opposite of traveling slowly.
It is logical that everyone knows about themselves - travel is a personal act and every traveler should take advantage of it in any way they prefer - but I personally do not understand this voracity. Jumping from monument to monument, from natural park to natural park, from capital to capital does not seem sensible to me. For my part, more than seeing places, I like living the places - meeting people, feeling the "good vibes" of villages and cities, simply being there. I like the concept slow travel. And that does not pander to great speeds.
Travel slowly: why?
Traveling has to be a pleasure, not a strain. A physical and emotional pleasure. I believe we should be available, open-minded and wide-awake, without looking too much at the clock.
Although he understands the contrary arguments, there are many advantages of slowing down the pace and traveling slowly, more slowly.
- Get to know the places you visit and not just the postcards associated with mass tourism. It's like getting to Porto and in a day and a half climb the Clérigos Tower, visit the Bolsa Palace, visit the Ribeira and a Port wine cellar on the banks of the Douro and go away.
- Take time to let time run sitting on a café terrace, on a bench in the garden or on the sandy beach. Try and see the good things that can happen by giving yourself the opportunity to be "in" a place.
- Opportunity to interact with the locals, talking, learning about their habits and culture. AND make new friends, although ephemeral. The people we know decisively influence the experience and memories of a trip. And it's amazing how good people are all over the world!
- Be available for the unforeseen, where the best moments of a trip often take place. That is, give yourself the opportunity to accept invitations to do things not foreseen in the initial plan of the trip, such as going to a wedding, having dinner at a local family's house or simply visiting some little known place that the host wants to show us .
- Use all the senses to get to know a city - feeling its smells, listening to the street sounds, proving the local gastronomy of the tasquinhas recommended by the inhabitants - as opposed to seeing the city through the lens of a camera.
- In short, "live" and not just "see."
- In addition, traveling slowly is cheaper. The high cost of transport is diluted in the daily budget, with time are known good and cheap restaurants, staying for several days in the same hotel is possible to get discounts, and many urban passes (which include transport or tourist attractions such as museums and monuments) become worthwhile.
See the article 15 Tips for traveling cheaper
The funny thing is that most people agree with the arguments for traveling slowly but when it comes to planning your trip you quickly ignore the advantages of slow travel.
Just because "we have to make the most of it", they prefer to visit 5 European capitals in a week instead of choosing one or two cities and get to know them in depth. Just because "I will never go back" to New Zealand, they want to see the North Island, the South Island and still do a cruise on the fjords in only 10 days. Or go from Venezuela to Mexico on 15 days. Or go through 10 countries in a single month.
Traveling like that is not for me. For the simple reason that the traveler takes a lot more from the trip, he knows a lot more people and assimilates better the cultures and traditions of the places that he visits if he walks slowly. This is what I try to explain over and over again to those who are looking for me.
Actually traveling slowly is the advice I most often give when they ask me for suggestions on travel itineraries.
I have seldom succeeded in influencing other travelers to slow down, but I will continue to "preach" this way of traveling slower and closer to people. At least until the day my friends and acquaintances stop visiting 10 countries in 30 only days.
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