Melissa's Travels

Slow Travel

Thanks to the explosion of airline service it has become commonplace to travel across oceans for a weekend and half way around the world for a few days of work. We really have become a global village, which I often celebrate. But recently, when we were in London for three days, my daughter remarked that she had to come back to spend a few months. “You can only really get to know a place over time,” she said. And she is right. I have been lucky to know London over layers of dozens of visits, but it struck me how caught up we can get in fast travel. Like fast food, we appreciate the convenience and speed of jetting in for a quick fix, but we miss the most nutritious and rewarding benefits of exploring when we don’t take time to slow down and be in a place.

It doesn’t have to be for a month either. I think fast versus slow travel is a state of mind. Instead of having a hit list of sights to check off in a hurry, it involves building in time to wander. So, we did visit Hampton Court with an amazing guide who shared Tudor history with us, and we spent a morning strolling around Notting Hill and lingering at Daylesford Organic. We visited friends and ate at the new Oblix in the Shard, with incredible city views. Among the things we discussed was just how global London has become. So many wealthy French, Indian and Russian people have bought houses in central London that you can spend hours without hearing a British accent. The same could be said of Paris in summer or of Venice year round. Are these cities so international now that they are in danger of losing their unique characters?

In Elizabeth Becker’s book Overbooked: The Exploding Business of Travel and Tourism, she reflects on this phenomenon. She posits that governments, individuals and businesses have to consciously focus on “good travel”—low-volume and high-value to the local communities. This is the only way for our children to appreciate and enjoy travel the way we do now. A small example: supporting the local artisans like buying genuine Murano glass in Venice instead of cheap souvenirs or seeking out the few artisan leather makers or ateliers left in France and Italy. At Indagare, we are always searching for the residents who can share their food, their crafts, their stories and their ways of life with you on your trips—whether you go for a day or a month, because we know that traveling consciously is the most rewarding.

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