There is something meaningful about the saying, “It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey.” As a traveler, I am always happy to get to the next destination, but the I believe the true excitement happens in the act of getting to there. By traveling slowly we can experience the journey instead of just sightseeing.
When most people travel, they travel at a fast pace. Trying to see as much as possible in a short amount of time, because, let’s be honest, not many of us are lucky enough to travel for more than two weeks. So in this way, when given the opportunity to travel, we see a little bit of everything.
However, in this article, I hope to inspire people to travel slowly. By traveling slowly one can truly immerse themselves in a culture, like learning a little about the language, or how to make local dishes. Not to mention when we travel quickly we tend to see all the tourist spots, where lines are long, prices are high and everything is a bit superficial.
Being from the Bay Area, CA, I would hate for people all over the world to come to Pier 39, in San Francisco and think that this was the Californian, American lifestyle. While it’s important to see the greatest landmarks of the world – i.e. the Golden Gate Bridge, the Eiffel Tower, or Big Ben – these are really the tip of the ice burg. There is so much more to each of these cities that many travelers don’t get to experience.
For me, whenever I have traveled quickly, I felt a sense of loss, like I didn’t really get to experience things I was just walking by to check it out. The first time I went to Italy I was there for 14 days and while I was able to see about 10 cathedrals, visit Lake Como and check out a few of the surrounding towns, I felt like I was missing out on the real experience of the Italian-lifestyle. I wanted to walk down the medieval streets of a small town eating gelato and watching the kids play in the piazza. I wanted to make new friends and ride through the countryside on a Vespa, I wanted to sit on a patio looking out to the street and people-watch as I eat pizza and sip wine. Being a part of a guided tour my daily schedule was determined by the guide who constantly ushered us to the next location.
The second time I ventured to Europe, I stayed in each city or town for about a week. I got lost down different streets each day, learned how to say basic things in each language, learned where the best or cheapest places to eat, and most importantly made lots of friends in each country. I eventually found my way to Italy and lived all of the experiences I had dreamed of for so long. I finally felt I had experienced Italy.
There are those who just want to get away from it all. Escape the normal hum-drum of life that many of people have. They may not care about what they see or eat as long as there is a pool nearby and a little umbrella in every drink. If that’s what you want then definitely do whatever makes you happy, but I encourage those who have a gypsy soul like mine, travel slowly. Get to know the culture, the people, the food, the language; these things are the best part about traveling. And for me, this type of traveling is more valuable than anything else.