When I meet with a prospective client to discuss the vacation they're dreaming of, one of the things I ask about is their goal for the trip. That might sound like a weird question, at first; most people want to take a vacation to take a vacation...relax, chill, get away, enjoy and leave their daily world behind. But seriously, folks, I NEED to know their goals and I ask them to to take the time to think about them. Most people, know intuitively what they want, but until they make words out of that feeling they often aren't fully aware of those goals. If I am to plan this journey with them, I must know.
Although I specialize in customized, immersive travel, that's not everyone's cup of vacation tea. Goals revealed, one thing it's important to be mindful of: avoiding the urge to cram in as much as possible into a short period of time. "Slow down, get to know the culture, take your time" is wonderful (although sometimes condescending-sounding) advice that travel writers and, yes, even travel professionals give. But, to me, "slow travel" isn't about moving at a snail's pace or spending weeks in one destination.
Can you imagine trying to 'do' Venice, Rome, Florence and Tuscany in a 7-day Italian vacation? Or all four major Hawaiian Islands in 8 or 9 days? Or join one of the "If it's Tuesday it must be Belgium" whirlwind escorted tours of Europe...8 countries in 14 days? I understand why people feel like they have to squeeze so much into a visit, but let's really think about this:
- Every time you move locations, you have to get up, pack, grab breakfast, transfer to the airport or train station, go through security, wait for your flight or train, fly or rail to the next destination, possibly transit immigration & customs, wait for your luggage, transfer to the next hotel, check-in, find your room and throw your suitcase on the bed. All you really want to do at that point is take a nap! But you can't...you have to hurry out the door to see everything that awaits in your new location...because you only have 2 days here!
- Figure that each move also has a price tag attached for transfers, checked luggage fees, the cost of your train ticket or flight, taxis and expensive junk food you pick up in the airport or train station. It can add up quickly.
- Most importantly, you will burn out. You will be exhausted with no memories of your vacation except for the photos on your phone. The faster you go and the more you do, the less you EXPERIENCE.
Slowing down and enjoying your surroundings opens you up to the possibility of experiencing one of those "happy accidents" of travel. Like the time you start talking to a cafe owner and end up sharing a bottle of wine and laughing the afternoon away. Or take a left turn off the hiking path because that mountain looks like one that needs to be climbed. Or follow the sounds of some amazing music only to find the rehearsal spot of an incredible family of jazz musicians whose father used to play with Dizzy Gillespie and Louis Armstrong...and they invite you in to listen! (That one really happened to a friend of mine in Haleiwa town on the north shore of Oahu). THOSE are the memories you will always treasure!
So slow down! Unless you really have the time to visit multiple locations on your vacation, wouldn't you rather spend less time in train stations and more time in the café getting to know the local people, or duck into that fascinating-looking book store? Destinations are more than check marks on a "bucket list". Instead of seeing things quickly...why not experience them DEEPLY?
'til next week.
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Contact: GLOBAL EXOTIC ADVENTURES - Juliet Weller, Owner