Have you ever felt that you are simply moving from one place to the next, taking one stunningly Instagrammable photo after another, and yet never truly connecting with the place you are in, the people around you, or even with yourself?
Welcome to the world of travel burnout.
The speed at which many of us travel and the increasing isolation that can occur as a result sets up a situation where what you need more than anything else is to slow down, take some time, and surround yourself with supportive people who can, to some, extent buffer you and help you get through it.
It is sad to say that in every aspect of life we can become overloaded, unless we give ourselves time to truly digest. Too much food? Take a break or feel sick. Too much beer? Take a break or feel awful. Not enough exercise? Get up and move or feel stiff and uncomfortable. Too much work? Do something for the soul or feel disconnected and depressed.
Too much or too little of anything, too much speed or not enough movement in our lives sends our system out of balance. Allowing ourselves to slow down when we travel ensures that we reap the rewards of being in the moment, of getting up close with our environment, of working to overcome the different cultural and linguistic barriers that you might initially encounter and ultimately gaining more for less anxious, frenetic, soul destroying, planet damaging rushing around.
Through being in motion, ongoing, moving travel, our sense of community interconnectivity has the potential to widen the intersections where we each traditionally meet and broaden our sense of who we, collectively and individually, are. This is essential at a time where there are many aspects of life in politics and the ever widening media, which can cause us to separate and revert to elevated levels of ‘fearing the other’.
Understanding and seeing each other through a wider, sometimes social lens gives us the time to see people and places as more than the sum of each discrete moment in their company or on particular soil. Abu Dhabi is more than the woman in a hijab you smiled at in the airport lounge. India is more than the tuk-tuk ride from the hotel to the Taj Mahal, before coming back to your single room to read your guide book and arrange your flight to the next stop on the Golden Triangle itinerary. The joy of ‘slow’ is finally pervading the travel as well as the food industry.
For Carl Honoré, “Slow travel now rivals the fly-to-Barcelona-for-lunch culture. Advocates savour the journey, travelling by train or boat or bicycle, or even on foot, rather than crammed into an airplane. They take time to plug into the local culture instead of racing through a list of tourist traps [it is] much better to do fewer things and have time to make the most of them.”
The integration of the self, the journey and the ‘other’ are only truly possible when we take more time to be open to the stimulus from each of these aspects, and spend more time developing our understanding of each other. And often what we need within this is a base, a community within which to share and discuss the things we have found. A way to collaboratively process our information and to pass on those gems of information, or hints and tips, for others to enjoy.
In our current technological climate, we are able to keep in touch more than ever before. Whilst there are aspects to this fast-paced tech that might appear to be the antithesis of what is being suggested here there is also the possibility to be part of different on and offline communities which are able to share information, receive pointers on slow travel, and discover opportunities for meeting up with people. People who feel part of your tribe. Who resonates with the same ideas as you. Individuals, couples or groups going your way, at your speed.
Finding your travel tribe is more than just finding people who have the same background or social demographics as you. It is about being part of a community that shares common values and is striving for similar experiences and outcomes. In essence, it is to be part of a living entity. The University of Deleware cites 4 ways that working together as an engaged community can benefit both the project and the individual. If by engaging together we can foster better outcomes, provide a 2 way flow of information, enhance the satisfaction of the members, and provide the support to overcome challenges in the arena of slow travel then we will truly be finding ways forward to support each other in developing a more effective, sustainable way to travel.
To be part of a process, a movement, an evolution, and, in the case of Snail Travel, a community, is a way to connect with people who are focused not just on the destination but on the multiplicity of ways to get there. Equally, by doing so, it is ensuring that those ways are undermining the current level of environmental destruction, through active steps. Coming together with like-minded people and finding ways to manage the current global situation and still meet our social and emotional needs for travel and exploration is essential. After all, supporting our environment is an aspect of life that is going to take time, invested energy, and a large collaborative effort to sort out. Far from the simple fact that it is a worthwhile cause to be involved with, we all know that it is essential to the ongoing future of our planet’s ecosystems as we know then.
So, jump on! Get involved! Distribute those hard won nuggets of slow travel information that you just know someone else will benefit from, and share the love! What you send out will come back to you, and who knows what new direction you will discover as part of a slow travel community.
Whether you wish to travel by train, ferry or coach, make sure to check out the Snail Travel Community Facebook Group and Snail Travel Instagram pages on social media to find all the links and info you need to make informed alternative travel plans, as well as a community of like-minded travellers to discuss them with.
The future is as exciting slow as it is fast, and this time you get to really savour it!
Article by WorkingAbroad Blog Writer Rae Hadley