Gentry, our niece and webmeister, was visiting with us in Las Vegas recently. She was extolling the virtues of the “slow travel movement”. I had to Google it before I understood that we've been part of the slow travel movement since we moved aboard Nine of Cups in 2000 and we didn't even know it. I think that's before they gave it a label.
After further research, I learned that the keys to slow travel revolve around interaction with the local community, people and culture. All the things we love about our liveaboard travel life. None of the “If it's Tuesday, it must be Belgium” packed itinerary nonsense. We stick around in one area and get to know a bit about it, experience our surroundings ... maybe have a few of those awesome 90-day rule events. We walk everywhere, go grocery shopping and have leisurely morning coffees at the local cafe, meet people, learn about them.
A few years back, I was asked by Women and Cruising what I liked best about the cruising life. Here was my response...
“Probably three things come to mind immediately...independence, adventure and travel.
Independence and self-reliance are key ingredients of the cruising life. Neither David nor I was brought up sailing...we learned it all from scratch in our 40's. We found a whole new life and a whole new way to look at our lives. Where endless meetings, product introductions and bottom lines once ruled, we're now concerned with weather windows, bottom paint and charting courses. We're constantly challenged to be innovative and imaginative.
I've always loved to travel, but cruising is beyond just traveling...it's cultural immersion.
Beyond visiting a port or country for the usual two week vacation, we “live” in the country...sometimes for months. We learn the language, the shortcuts, the times for the fresh markets and the names of the vendors who give us the best deals. We celebrate local holidays, make local friends and share family outings and celebrations. Each new port, each new country, each new experience in our cruising lives is a new adventure.
To me...this is what life is all about.”
I believe I was describing the slow travel movement and independent travel. The slow traveler doesn't necessarily rely on tour companies or travel agents. They read, do their research and figure out their options. They thrive on learning about the places they intend to visit and they celebrate the differences in culture. They move slowly from place to place, taking in the experience rather than treating each destination as a box to be ticked off on a checklist. Let's see … that's us, us and us. We're already signed up.
In fact, there's an entire “slow” movement brewing up … everything is slow … cities, books, food, even slow money. Finally, the world is spinning at our speed.