September 8th, 2011

Travel Inspiration #1: The Art of Slow Travel

Travel Inspiration #1: The Art of Slow Travel

Recently, I’ve downshifted my life in an effort to reconnect with friends, family and even myself. I’m starting to change how I move through the world, both near and far. Like opting for bicycle commuting when possible as a way of slowing down and engaging in my surroundings. I tend to frequent local farmers markets or grow my own veggies and fruit as much as I can. Do-it-yourself projects have become a bigger interest, like making peach ice cream from scratch, or jam. I’ve even recently signed up for a bee keeping class, all as a way of learning to appreciate process and reconnect with my roots.

This slowed-down attitude toward life has affected to everything I do, including how I travel. My thirst for discovery and the excitement I feel for a new place hasn’t left. I still love going to new destinations, but now have more of a desire to be present in a city, getting a better taste of culture and its people. For instance, on a recent trip to Buenos Aires, I found myself foregoing an itinerary filled with side trips and settling into the city for a longer stint. I rented a room in an apartment, ate at the same restaurant on the corner that I loved many times over, cooked with local ingredients and brought in the New Year in the home of our neighbors. I took yoga classes with a friend and we laughed our way through attempting to translate instructions for each other. I got to know shopkeepers, walked down forgotten streets and celebrated that with travel, as with life, is as much about the journey as it is the destination.

I’ve come to realize this kind of slow travel is more of a mindset than a particular pace or even way of transporting. For me, it’s been about digging my nails into the dirt as I attempt to move through a place rather than over, it wanting to experience the simple and beautiful subtleties my destination has to offer.  Slow travel has allowed me to be more present with my experience. I find I’m not time-poor and therefore can spend an entire afternoon talking to a local merchant, taking a cooking course, volunteering with a local organization or sitting in a café reading and drinking a glass of vino.

As a result, I’ve tried to take out phrases like, “I’ve done Buenos Aires” from my mouth in an effort to put distance between myself and my old habits when traveling. I feel free from the old pressures of standard tourism. I’ve also humorously realized this has the potential to shorten dinner conversations and my ability to gain status from my travels.  For example, I find myself saying, “no, I didn’t see that” more and more frequently to fellow travelers or those interested in discussing various must-sees of the world.

My last night in Buenos Aires, my travel companion and I found ourselves back in our rented apartment with our new flatmates, swapping stories under the stars from hammocks on our balcony. We talk about jobs, dreams, friends and family until the early morning, when we packed up our bags and headed to the airport to go back home. This was my first of many slow travel experiences that have allowed me to feel so immersed in a place that I truly get a taste of local life.  And maybe for the first time, I understand what it is to take a real vacation.

- Stasia Raines, Creeker and Slow Traveler

At Eagle Creek, we believe travel is an inspiring endeavor, which is why we do what we do. There's something about packing a bag, leaving the comforts of home and journeying forth that creates new possibilities for a person. If we let it, these experiences can change us for the better. In that spirit, we're starting a series of posts to highlight various aspects of travel that inspire and affect us. We'll share our experiences in the hope that you too will share perspectives and insights.

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