Hi there, my name is Callahan and I am a traveling creative. I’m an essayist, photographer, printmaker, and creative coach inspiring fiercely mindful adventures. I believe that being able to travel the world is one of the greatest privileges of the modern era. Getting out there is important, but so is how you get there. For me, that means investing in slow travel.
1. What is slow travel?
Like “slow fashion” or “slow living,” slow travel aims to take the hustle and hyper-consumerism out of the travel experience. By choosing an itinerary that places higher value on cultural experiences and a sense of ease and presentness, we are able to spend our money wisely, create richly textured memories, and go home feeling revitalized.
2. Planning for slow travel has three essential parts:
- Start with why – WHY do you want to visit your dream destination? Is it because you saw a pretty picture of it? That’s ok! But go deeper – what is it about that landscape or culture, those textures, flavors, sensations that are calling out to you? Do some research that goes beyond Pinterest must-do lists and learn about the history, geography, and influences of your ideal locale. As you travel and once you arrive, use mindfulness techniques to ground down and stay present throughout your trip.
- Follow your wallet – Like choosing to save your money to buy an ethical, sustainable sweater instead of snagging one off a fast fashion sale rack, sometimes you have to wait a while to get the finest things you desire. The slow travel version of this would be choosing to “live like a local” rather than staying at an all-inclusive resort. Taking the slower option will usually mean a different level of financial investment, and that’s ok! Taking fewer, higher-quality trips that don’t put your financial health at risk are better for you and for the planet. Bonus: It is ALWAYS worth it to put in the extra effort to curate a trip that you will cherish for the rest of your life.
- Give yourself plenty of time – Nothing spoils a beautifully planned experience like watching the clock. Wherever you go, make sure that you give yourself plenty of time to settle in, to begin to understand the ebbs and flows of the place, to allow yourself to get really familiar with the environment.
3. Wisely choose your mode of transportation
All travel comes with an expense – whether that comes in the form of money, time, or carbon footprint. The “slow” in slow travel often speaks to the mode of transportation, and opting for train, boat, bus, or human-powered conveyance rather than airplanes or cars takes an enormous pressure off of the environment. No matter how you choose to get to your destination, I recommend investing in a carbon-offset program that will take measures to counterbalance your travel footprint by investing in sustainable energy infrastructures, carbon capture programs, or reforestation.
When you travel slowly, you may be soaking up the memories, but the place and its people are also imprinting on you. As you take the time to learn about the culture of a new place, you’re more likely to return home with a sense of the interconnectedness of our planet, compassion for your neighbors, and a deeper sense that we are all in this together. And now, more than ever, we need that reminder.