Last week I wrote a post about how the most important and enjoyable part of travel for me is the ‘journey’ part, the ‘getting there’. There are so many aspects to travel, and what is en vogue these days is ‘slow travel’. That’s basically taking your time and staying long term in places. A month or two, maybe six to twelve months. Of course, if you have the time and opportunity, and most importantly the financial means, this sounds to me like a wonderful way to travel.
Have I ever done ‘Slow’ travel? Well, I guess I have. I was in Georgia for three months teaching English. You could call that a ‘working holiday’ I guess. It’s living in another country. But to do a few months here and then move on and do a few months there, and then move on again, that’s not something that I have done. The idea is appealing in many ways. You need to have a good base, an apartment or house to stay in.
With Air BnB now a popular thing, people often find a place to lay their head through this website. I know people who have found some great long-term stays with Air BnB and, also, had some horror experiences.
So anyways, to crux of today’s blog before I meander off to another topic as I often do – if this is ‘slow’ travel, what do I do? Because, in general, I can say that my experiences are far from ‘slow’ travel. In fact, I wonder – is the logical answer to that question ‘fast’ travel?
And I think it’s a reasonable label in many ways. And I think that one reason, amongst the more practical ones that I have, is that, and people do disagree with this assessment but I know it to be true, I am in fact an introvert. At times I guess, I appear to have a ‘big’ personality, but at the end of the day, I am much more comfortable in my own skin writing, watching, doing on my own or with just one or two others. Put me in a group of say more than four or five and I feel terribly lost.
To succeed in slow travel, you need to be able to rapidly make friends and I’m not sure I’d be any good at that. As I grow older, this becomes clearer to me. And also the effort involved I feel is more for me than a lot of people. And this is why I rarely go out and I certainly don’t go ‘clubbing’ or to pubs pretty much at all. I feel awkward, or left out (re: excluded) and bizarrely, I have severe FOMO. And I tell you what – the emergence of social media has actually made this worse in me.
Now I look at my travels since 2011. And I do love ‘long-term’ travel, I must state this. I am happy being on the road with no worry about it ending any time soon – that is when I really feel ‘in the moment’. But the practicalities of being able to do that these days, being married, having a permanent job, having plans beyond travel, means that I can’t see any trips that could six months or more on the horizon. In five years I’ll be due long service leave, and I might take the opportunity to travel for a couple of months then, but that’s as long as I’m likely to travel for a long time.
Maybe in the future, 15 or 20 years, maybe my wife and I may have the chance to live somewhere else for an extended period of time. I like that thought. But for now – ‘fast’ travel seems to be what I feel I’ve got to do. A short break here, a short break there. And this year – 7 weeks! But still moving at breakneck speed.
And to do 7 weeks I haven’t had a break of more than four days in over 18 months from work. And you know what – I can’t do that again. It’s simply been to allow myself to accumulate enough leave to take the seven weeks off and to have enough leave, or nearly enough leave to cover the time that I’m away.
Fast travel also means that I’m spending like it’s going out of fashion. I’m also finding myself liking nice hotels too, which before a point in 2011 I never bothered with. Honestly the thought of spending over $50 on accommodation used to really freak me out and I just wouldn’t. Although I like many aspects of staying at hostels, dorms wasn’t one of those aspects and at times I felt lost in the crowd. And now I’m in my forties so I would feel doubly lost.
I’m saddling the point in my life where I still want to pack as much in, but I also feel the need for a chance to rest and relax. To get to know a place. I still get frustrated when I learn about something I missed when I went to a city – ‘Oh I wish I’d gone there!’ but also philosophise that I would be just happy to go to a big city and soak it in without going to a gallery, museum or famous landmark.
And then some people who do the ‘slow’ travel think it’s the only way to travel. You know what? There is no right way to travel. It’s what ever you enjoy, whatever you get the most out of, what makes you happy. A short visit. A year-long backpacking adventure around the world, a foodie tour of Asia, a relaxing week-long vacation at a resort swimming and getting massages, or picking a spot in Thailand and resolving to spend a year there. And I caveat all I just wrote with ‘as long as you’re not hurting anyone’ and also add that you should be sensitive to the cultures that surround you and respectful to all.
The world is out there, and if you lucky and privileged enough, adventures and experiences await by the truckload, and I think if that inspires you do it and do it your way to best of your abilities and however your circumstances allow. Because we only have one life. Thanks for reading today – and May the Journey Never End!