CARL HONORÉ ON SLOW TRAVEL

Award winning writer Carl Honoré is often referred to as the Godfather of Slow, with his 2004 best-selling book In Praise of Slow introducing the world to the Slow Movement. He has recently turned his attention to Slow Travel, writing a wonderful children's book to open their eyes to the possibilities and adventures that can be had when you travel slow. We are honoured that Carl has written an article exclusively for us at Slow Travel.

A hammock on a beach at sunset

Bedtime stories are meant to be read at a gentle pace. But I was way too fast to slow

down with the Brothers Grimm.


So I zoomed through the classic fairy tales, skipping lines, paragraphs, entire pages. My

version of Snow White was so fast it had just three dwarves in it.


“What happened to Grumpy?” my son would ask.


My wake-up call came when I caught myself ogling a collection of 'one-minute bedtime

stories'. Think Snow White in 60 seconds.


Thankfully, I never bought the fast fables. I did the opposite:


Reader, I slowed down.


And I'm not alone.


Across the world, people are waking up to the folly of turning every moment into a race

against the clock. They're fed up with rushing through life instead of living it. And they find

that slowing down is the best way to do everything better and enjoy it more.


This is especially true for travel.


Too often, travel is ruined by the four horsemen of the modern apocalypse: Stress.

Impatience. Distraction. Busyness.

Crowds at a train station

When you move too fast through the world, you miss the small details and fine grain that

make each place thrilling and unique. You visit places without really experiencing them – and then return home more tired than when you left.


When you slow down, travel levels up. You start noticing things. You connect with people.


You experience the world in all its richness and wonder.


When you slow down, you create Proustian memories that last a lifetime.


That's why the Slow travel movement is growing…fast!


Let's get one thing clear up front, though: traveling Slow does not mean doing everything

at a snail's pace. That would be absurd. Sometimes a little speed and adrenaline are just

what the doctor ordered.

A Slow vacation can feature yoga on the beach or swinging in a hammock. But it can also

include bungee jumping and white-water rafting.


What matters is not how fast the activity is but how you approach it.


Because Slow travel is ultimately a mindset. It means being present, curious and alive to

the moment. Plugging into local culture. Treading lightly on the planet. Sometimes it just

means stopping and staring.


Slow Travel is a godsend for children. It opens the mind. Makes you stronger and happier.

Teaches you about the world and yourself. Brings you closer to other people.


Many of my fondest childhood memories come from the Slow traveling we did as a family:

Biting into a juicy peach plucked from a tree in the Okanagan Valley. Swimming in the

clear, warm waters of the Indian Ocean. Racing my little brother up the Eiffel Tower.

Book cover for Its the Journey not the Destination

I wrote It's The Journey not the Destination to introduce children and parents to the joys of

Slow travel. To inspire them to see the world as a giant playground to explore and savour

in your own time.


That's why the 40 voyages in the book are all on slower forms of transport: bike, boat,

train, your own two feet. When you stop dashing to your destination, getting there

becomes part of the fun.


Like walking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. Or gliding down the Mississippi River in a

steamboat. Or cycling round the Baltic Sea en route to regal Riga.


I hope It's The Journey will also show children that the best voyages often happen in your

imagination, that you can travel anywhere on a magic carpet of words and pictures.

Illustration of kids looking out of a train from Its the Journey not the Destination

Even if you never cycle the Silk Road or paddle round the Galápagos Islands, reading about such adventures can drop you right in the middle of them.


Slow travel can even ennoble the most humble journey. Starting with your local park or even your own garden.


Because when you travel 'Slow', when you show up with a calm and curious mind, any

journey can be a balm for the soul and a banquet for the senses.


In my own family, we are firm fans of Slow travel. So much of our highlight reel was minted by spending time together in new places.


And though I have done many memorable things with children all over the world, my

happiest memories are made up of simple, slow moments: lingering over a lazy meal,

playing in the pool, gazing up at the stars.


And don't worry about kids getting bored without a packed schedule. What bores children

is rushing around on someone else's timetable.


Mae West once said: "Anything worth doing is worth doing slowly."


This is true of bedtime stories: Trust me, Snow White is way better with all seven dwarves.


And it's definitely true of travel.

 

You can read more from Carl on his website


Read our review of It's the Journey not the Destination