How do you travel?
Book round trip air tickets, visit a zillion sites and scout for that one perfect room which meets all filters and boom - before you know you are already going places visiting all the major spots! Going live on Facebook, Whatsapp-ing photos, uploading albums loaded with #wanderlust hashtags on Instagram etc.
But really, has traveling boiled down to just striking off some countries from your bucket list?
Traveling for me is a slow process. It is an indulgent experience. It transforms you from within and refreshes your mind. Calms your tired nerves and boosts your energy levels. How do you expect to be refreshed when all you do is create an itinerary and hop from one place to another just so you cover most locations in a day?
Are you even absorbing the vibes of a place in the mad rush?
Ditch your camera and spend a moment with your eyes wide open to see where you are standing. Look at the water - it's not blue like your homeland; it's turquoise. Look at the birds - they have patches of different colors on their bodies. Smell the air. Listen to the myriad sounds. And accept the local meat here is not your favorite one.
Move over 'Been there, done that' mentality. Embrace the present. Live the experience. Immerse in the stories of the locals. Sure it won't leave you with brimming memory cards but will give you a plethora of stories back home!
Like a campsite? Pitch a tent right there. Shop some local veggies and lit up a bonfire by the river. Not every meal on vacation is meant to be at a high-end restaurant. Experiment with different Airbnbs & Couchsurfing !
Just last week in Goa our hostel was less than a minute from the beach, not once did I visit the shore? All I did was find myself a corner to curl around, savored my Cheese Omelette, reclined against the chair of the cafe pitched right above the beach where I could hear the roaring waves. Perfect, eh?
Chatted a bit with the manager. That's the best part about slow traveling - no half-baked conversations. I am listening to his stories (fish bans, fishermen's festivals due in the next few days, etc.) when I smell the aroma of oven-fresh apple pies pass by. At that moment with all my senses, I felt alive. Talking about Goa, with a Goan, right on a Goan beach. If this isn't the right kind of travel - what is?
Find out what your travel type is and you'll never want to go back to '5 cities in 5 days' schedules.
Not every sight deserves a selfie. Not every journey you take needs an air-conditioned cab. You'll have the most bizarre experiences in a local train. But it's okay!
Slow travel is not a procedure. It is a thought process. You need to come out of the 'strike off my bucket list' phase and clasp Instagram worthy landscapes in real life.
Embrace your initial blunders.
Whilst I urge you to try an unconventional way of traveling, remember to take care. Don't talk to any random stranger on the street. Remember to have the local cop's contact details on your speed dial. Carry a snack with you at all times and distribute cash in your luggage. Keep a family member updated about your whereabouts and share your location at all times.
So, will you consider going slow the next time you travel? Tell us about your own experiences!
Need travel inspiration for the new year? Click here to go around the world in 2020!