While we are on the road, with our Snail, slowly, to meet, to discover alternatives, we thimk on our way of traveling: we say we are slow, but can we say that we are in the movement of Slow Travel. From a certain point of view, yes, we travel at our own pace, we arrange ourselves to the maximum of being in the philosophy of the 3R: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, we promote walking times to discover places, landscapes and all what surrounds us. Then from another point of view, no, our Snail consumes a lot of gallons to the hundred, not ideal from the ecological point of view and I will say even economic. But that’s not the subject of this article, so, do you know “slow travel”?
“Slow travel” or literally slow travel is part of the “slow” movement of appreciating what we do, eat, or the way we travel in a less rapid and consumeristic way. This goes against mass tourism.
Slow travel is a way of responsible travel and learning to take your time. This is a great opportunity to facilitate new encounters and share unforgettable moments, but also to reduce its ecological footprint daily by taking for example less polluting transport.
Hitchhiking, have you thought about it? Economic way, promoting unexpected meetings, patience and good humor, are put. I let you discover the testimony of Yves, one of our friends who have traveled this way for several years!
For me, travel is a way to return to a normal rhythm, to take the time to enjoy this, enjoy her banality just like its faithfull moments. This is contrary to the fats pace of life that we live all in a way or another with the work, social media or instant communication. It’s spend much of your time outside, meet people, get up in the morning without know exactly what life we occur for this wonderful new day. It’s all for these reasons and several others than I prefer to travel by hitchhiking.
But it will further. That’s also a way for me to create the world which I want to live, a world which I can trust in a foreign and who can also trust me. We go beyond the simple tourist and cultural consumption to go deeply in single reality of the person stopping on the road. But do not believe that it’s still idyllic haha! It requests a lot of energy to create this connection and the reality of travel (tired, too meeting at the same time, etc.) makes this connection rarest.
Here are some articles from a blogger making the hitchhiking for women her favorite transport. You can search her blog for more information, but here is an article for beginners, an article on techniques and an article on male’ hitchhiking. And it’s not to mention the basic tool that I use to leave a city that I don’t know at all.
How about a non-polluting, sporty and healthy way of transportation! Cycling is becoming more and more popular and it is not unusual to see cyclists with luggage racks on the roads. It is more developed in Europe but it is easier now to find road bikes, maps for cyclists.Go, Bike, a pedal stroke and go!
Discover the testimony of Alexandre, a friend who is passionate about cycling, involved in various community projects in Quebec City, he gives us his good advice! Go, on the way!
Cycling travel : freedom and discovery on two wheels
I bicycle touring since I have a 17 or 18. For me, this way to explore the world has many advantages: little pollution (I breathe, so I emit co2 … I joke!), expenses and stress. I feel more in relation with people of communities that I visit and beautiful meetings are frequently. If I wish, I can explore a region thoroughly. Or go mode sports, without too visit. That’s my way, I am free. Moreover, the cyclotourism make me aware of comfort in which I live in the dailylife: heating, hot water, fridge, etc. And it reconnects me to the rhythm of nature.
If you want to do as well, here are some advices :
1- Sign up on the website warmshowers.org. It’s a site of hospitality exchange between touring cyclists. You can search accommodation offers in the country (ies) you want to visit. In exchange, it is asking to host occasionally other travelers. It’s great useful and inspiring!
2- Go gradually, to your pace! Adapt your trip to your fitness. For some, it will be like to start with a weekend going camp in the basement of a friend who lives a few dozen of kilometers from your home. For 2 or 3 first days, plan few kilometers and a lot of breaks to recover, make luggage adjustments or mechanical focus.
3- Plan, but not too much! Sometimes you want to control everything when planning a trip. Cycling, full of unforeseen events may require you to change your plans : mechanical glitch (s), change of itinerary suggested by another cyclist, etc. So, a general planning of the trip = ok. It is even better to detail it for the first 3 or 4 days. But if you leave for more than 2 weeks, in general, it is useless to predict everything: you will probably have to change a lot of your plans. Just book a few hours, once a week, to plan the next week, call or send emails to book accommodations or activities, etc.
4- The last advice … but not the least: get started! Too many people procrastinate so much that they end up not leaving. They miss out on fantastic, unusual, and sometimes crazy adventures! Be part of the daring, bold adventurers (some crazy, say some!) And try the trip on two wheels!
And one mile on foot!
Even slower, with the passage of time, thanks to our natural means of locomotion, the legs, it is possible to leave on the roads on foot. Gabriel, a friend of France, passionate about walking, gives us his testimony. It reminded me that our legs are the least polluting means of transport in the world, walking strengthens our muscles and preserves our health. It is a simple activity within the reach of all that we learned from an early age. Then, with a lot of cars we tend to forget that short trips can be made on foot, yet it is a very effective alternative to sport and forget the plans. And health, it is essential for the biological rhythm, the quality of sleep and one of the best way to eliminate stress and feel good about yourself to explore nature outdoors. So, your walking shoes are ready for departure?
Mine ? Yes!!
After the amputation of my right leg in 2008 … ..and yes “I’m still alive” Then nature comes back at a gallop. A dive in the Lavezzi islands in Corsica gives me a taste of travel despite my disability. Then Uzbekistan, Tanzania, Europe ….
Each time, I am enriched by new cultures, I discover incredible landscapes and I meet extraordinary people. I also learn a lot about myself and acquire new skills. I always have a backpack close to me, besides it is not alone because they are fifteen to reach me. On sunny days our desires to resume the direction of the mountain are felt: my proposals to Sonia my wife are quickly validated; Direction the Alps on a trail for a week in Vanoise, mountain refuge to mountain refuge. Before departure I book all nights, which guaranteed me to have a room, but with the disadvantage to require to walk in all weathers. Several days before departure the backpacks are prepared with special attention for mine because I want to take the minimum for this expedition remains a pleasure. In our heads we are already on the road.
After 217 miles we are on the starting point, from the first strides at the bottom of the mountains, our minds are disconnected from our active life. It is an immense pleasure that carries us in the middle of this nature. A day of climbing to reach the first refuge and discover our travelers. These meetings always take place spontaneously with simplicity and sharing. After the evening meal we take place in large dormitories, the nights are short because the snorers have given themselves the word. Every day we take the path of the mountain to discover the fauna and flora, waterfalls, outdoor life, happiness. Everyone has their own pace and in the evening at the shelter we meet new adventurers. Like every morning I will get up with the left foot and I will keep smiling by telling me that despite everything life is beautiful …
In animal company ?
By listing the list of possible terrestrial slow travel, I also thought about the first means of transport that our ancestors used, the horse. It is no longer common to see horses used as a means of transport, but it still exists in poorer countries or by some communities. Recently seen in Mexico, in front of a hypermarket, on a big boulevard.
In France, ecotourism is growing more and more, and in some areas it is possible to travel in the company of a donkey who carries your luggage during all the time of your tourist travel. Here is the testimony of my parents who had the chance to have a multi-day walking experience with a donkey a long time ago!
In the 2000s, we decided to go on a 3-day hike to the Anes de Vassivières in the region of Creuse, in France. We met the young owners of this place and met our traveling companion Domino, a very nice and docile donkey who would of course carry our luggage. No question of getting on it.
Some tips for getting started: Walk at your own pace and let it feed along the way. After our 9 to 12 miles a day, we were stopping in the evening around 17h in a bed and breakfats, and we had to take care of our donkey by bringing him food and drink and he found companions or was alone. This hike allowed us to take the time to appreciate the landscape and the calm. We had a break to picnic. We were lucky to have good weather except the last day the rain was here but our luggage was well protected in two large panniers. You must know that you must avoid leaving a donkey alone because you will have for your ears. His pleasure was, by removing our luggage, rolling in the grass. In the morning, we often heard his call to leave. But before the start, we had to brush and make his hooves to prevent them from being clogged and put him properly the packs. The last night we came back to the site and left Domino for another gateway the next day. Our accommodation was a big yurt where we had a good night in the quiet of the countryside and were able to dry the rain that did not stop until the return. In the evening, we were treated to an evening tale and nice meal.
Summary of this adventure: We are listening to our animal and we walk quietly with him even when we have good climbs. A rewarding and peaceful experience.
We will see to do again this approach in our region, because we found in the Loue other day getaways with a donkey.
There are many other types of land transport available: train, skating, scooter, skate, or skiing, snowshoeing for the Nordic countries. The possibilities are endless and it remains for you to innovate, invent, choose the way you travel, live at your own pace and break with this tendency to consume activities, modes of transport, food. ..to forget the very essence, the first taste of each moment.
Thanks to Yves, Alexandre, Gabriel and my parents for their time given to write their testimonial which embellishes and presents many different ways of traveling but united under the same values: pleasure, meetings, taking time, sharing.
Feel free to comment on this article, enrich your testimony, your experience and invite your friends, your family to travel slowly!