My Best Tip for the Trip of a Lifetime!
If there’s anything we’ve learned from being locked in our homes during the Coronavirus Pandemic, it might just be the importance of slowing down. I am a true believer that even in the worst of situations there is always something of good.
Through the numerous social media posts I’ve scrolled through and stories I’ve heard on TV I’ve had to smile at all the stories people have shared while on quarantine. Yes, there have certainly been a fare number of posts about the incredibly annoying spouse or the nightmare called homeschooling, but there have been so many other stories of good.
With restaurants closed and everyone staying home families have actually been cooking and eating together. They’ve even been doing the unthinkable, spending time together! Who thought we’d see a time again when parents and kids are outside playing together or actually gathered together in the living room all watching the same TV show?
Seeing this shift in society is what inspired me to share one of my most important tips for anyone ready to start planning their next vacation.
“Slow down, get to know the culture, take your time" is wonderful (although sometimes condescending) advice that travel writers and, yes, even travel advisors like myself give to clients. We sometimes have the benefit of being able to spend more time in one place and have a flexibility that others may not. But, to me, "slow travel" isn't about moving at a snail's pace or spending weeks in one destination. It is simply avoiding the urge to cram in as much as possible into a short period of time... going back to quality verses quantity.
I wish I had a dollar for every client who wants 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 one of those " whirlwind escorted tours of Europe...8 countries in 14 days! I understand why people feel like they have to squeeze so much into their vacation, 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 fight 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 iPhone. The faster you go and the more you do, the less you experience.
Slowing down and enjoying your surroundings also opens you up to the possibility of experiencing one of those "happy accidents" of travel. Like the time you started talking to the cafe owner and ended up sharing a bottle of wine and laughing the afternoon away. Or the time you took a “wrong” turn off the hiking path only to discover the most beautiful waterfall cascading down the mountain. Or how about that time you followed 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 invited you in to listen! (That one really happened to one of my fellow travel advisors and her kids in Haleiwa town, on the north shore of Oahu). Those are the types of magical things that happen when you allow yourself to slow down and just be present in the moment.
That’s why I’m encouraging you to slow down! Spend less time on the go and more time getting to know the destination. Strike up a conversation in the café with the locals. Duck into that cute little bookstore that keeps grabbing your attention. Allow your curiosity to lead you off the path and show you sites that you would have missed otherwise. Just remember, destinations are so much more than check marks on a "bucket list".