This is an article about Slow Travel, something I've been pondering since I set off in the van almost 4 weeks ago, as I wind my way up the UK from South to North.
A short list of things I have learnt & observed during long stints of Slow Travel:
1. Slow Travel requires a minimal mindset. Many everyday things—such as a shower, dry towel, fresh drinking water, and (yup, I'm going to say it) a toilet—become a luxury during Slow Travel life. These things are not to be taken for granted. They should be carefully rationed, strategically refilled, and timed to pit stop perfection. With this change in mindset comes an added appreciation for how lucky we are (and I am speaking for privileged people living in the UK) to have access to all of these things on a day-to-day basis.
2. Slow Travel warps time. During times of Slow Travel, time moves at a different pace. As routine makes way for spontaneity, everything seems to slow down. Last weeks sunrise feels like a month ago. Perhaps it's the breaking of routine. Perhaps it's the changes in location, landscape, activities or temperatures from day-to-day life. Either way, with new experiences, time moves slower—much slower—during periods of Slow Travel.
3. Slow Travel is about The Journey, not the destination. In today’s fast-paced world, travel is all about convenience. An international flight to anywhere in the world at the click of a button. The journey is reduced to check-in, boarding, and arrivals with a good in-flight movie in-between (if you're lucky). Of course, I'd like to think the pandemic has changed people's mindset (or those who are able to travel freely). Many people are starting to revert back to the old ways, where we can explore the wilderness on our doorstep. And with this slower, more localised travel comes the freedom to change minds, re-route, get lost, and discover the unexpected along the way.
4. Slow Travel is about the highs and the lows. Van roofs leak. Gas runs out. There's a 'petrol crisis'. But on the flip side... when things do go wrong, plans don't get cancelled, they get rewritten. Unexpected yet awesome people can be met. Relationships grow stronger (teamwork is essential).
5. Slow Travel brings you closer to the elements. Teeth are brushed under starlit skies. Armpits are washed against flowing rivers. Drifting to sleep to the sound of nature; waves, wind, rain, owls (or the occasional fighting cats).
One day I will take slow travel a step further and abandon the internal combustion engine of this van, to take another long, slow journey by foot or bike.
But for now, I am going to close my laptop, take in the sunset, and enjoy my journey in the slow lane.