The Art of Slow Travel
It takes approximately six hours to fly from New York to Ireland.
But seven days sounded more appealing.
Few societies move as quickly as Americans do. We have allowed ourselves to be bogged down by technology. Faster always somehow translates to better. Yet we are physically tired. Emotionally tired. Sleepy eyes staring at screens.
But there’s an interesting shift that has begun and continues to manifest within our communities. Many are seeking more alternative routes - turning towards yoga, meditation, and mindfulness in order to decompress and reduce the risk of burnout.
In a time when we are striving to be more mindful and deliberate, why should travel be an exception?
This idea of "slow" isn’t necessarily new. In 1986, Carlo Petrini protested the building of a McDonald's restaurant in Rome, arguing that food should not be made in haste but rather an emphasis should be placed on preserving traditional and regional cuisine. From a single protest, a Slow Food Movement was born, promoting the farming of plants, seeds, and livestock native to the local ecosystem.
A larger Slow Movement followed, spawning various subcultures, including slow travel. The movement embodies the desire to be connected. The desire to be connected to people, to food, to place, and to life. But our fast-paced lives have continually weakened these connections.
I am guilty of this too. I have driven many hours to visit a state only to decide to go to the neighboring state too while I was there. Unsurprisingly, I was left feeling that I did not get enough time in one place, almost begrudgingly dragging my bags to the next.
In our regular life we are over scheduled, stressed, and rush from one task to the next. It is natural that we carry this over to our recreation time too. Slow travel encourages one to really get to know the culture, to stay in one city as opposed to hopping around, to familiarize yourself with every street - ultimately emerging with a more wholesome understanding of where you have been. For me, the ship was my city and its wooden planked decks were my streets.
With the idea of slow travel embraced, enter the Queen Mary 2 – the last transatlantic passenger liner. The ship departed from New York and sailed across the Atlantic for seven days before arriving in Southampton, England.
When you hand over all control to none other than the captain and the sea, a strange new freedom ensues. During the voyage, I more often than not had no idea what time it was nor was I aware of the ship’s location in the seemingly endless sea. All of us aboard were cleared of our everyday lives. I read books that have long remained idle on my nightstand. I participated in high tea every day and questioned why I don’t do this at home. I sat and watched the sky change and let myself sway to the movement of the water.
There’s an unmistakable magic to slow travel. I can still smell the salt of the sea and hear the way my shoes sounded on the beautiful wooden decks. The cold air awakening hopes for the new year ahead. It reinstated the romance of ships.
There are many elements and layers to mindfulness that I am continuing to explore, but I’d like to think they all revolve around slowing down – and sometimes that means taking the scenic route.
In my continuous pursuit of change for the better, I so welcome this pace.
Malinda Meadows is an Ohio native who was letting grief blanket her life.
She found healing through traveling and nature. She discovered changes of location led to changes in her mindset. It helped her process grief and forge a new path with greater optimism and happiness. Realizing the benefit of deliberate change, she now leads a more balanced and mindful life inspired by simple changes.
She blogs regularly at malindainthesnow.com to help others find change, however small, outside their box in order to live a happier, healthier life.