And some time make the time to drive out west
Into County Clare, along the Flaggy Shore,
In September or October, when the wind
And the light are working off each other
So that the ocean on one side is wild
With foam and glitter, and inland among stones
The surface of a slate-grey lake is lit
By the earthed lightening of flock of swans,
Their feathers roughed and ruffling, white on white,
Their fully-grown headstrong-looking heads
Tucked or cresting or busy underwater.
Useless to think you’ll park or capture it
More thoroughly. You are neither here nor there,
A hurry through which known and strange things pass
As big soft buffetings come at the car sideways
And catch the heart off guard and blow it open.
- “Postscript” by Seamus Heaney
“Slow Travel” according to the Internet, is a movement that stems from the “Slow Food Movement” which was an answer to fast food in the 1980s (specifically a McDonald’s in Italy) and the utter deterioration of culture, time and the kind of joy that can only come from Nonna’s Special Ravioli Recipe.
But slow travel existed long before that. It has only become more precious to us in recent years as we struggle to disconnect from an increasingly connected world and be present in moments. Any moments. Anymore, we need a “vacation” to use as an excuse to do that. A transition to shift us into that mindset. And that is what “Slow Travel” is really all about, Charlie Brown: a mindset.
Think of it as the opposite of every traditional travel industry ad or brochure you have ever seen (and wonder why that is the case). “Take a Selfie with This Picturesque Thing!” “Let Us Tailor Your Custom Experience!” “Follow Us!” “Like Our Page for Live Updates!” “Eat This! Tag Us! #FoodWithUs” “GO TO HERE AND DO THIS STUFF!”
No. Some time, make the time...
Slow travel can happen anywhere, even among all the tourist traps and flashing updates, but it cannot be fast. And it cannot be viewed through the camera on your phone. And it cannot happen if you aren’t paying attention to your surroundings. You must make time to experience the world around you, which is one of the hardest things to do.
But beyond that, there are no real rules.
As AM Insights will explore in the coming weeks, slow travel can be about the journey, but it can also be about taking in a destination. It can be about the way in which you travel: by train, car, Mini, motorcycle or even on foot. It can be about watching a glittering ocean and a flock of swans, having a traditional dinner at a local’s house or jamming out to your memories as you drive down the road. It can be planned out with quaint diners dotted across a paper map and pre-purchased history books on tape or you can see where the wind takes you.
But our mission, should we choose to accept it, is to understand what we want from slow travel. How we can learn from it? What do we need that only slow travel can provide? Can we realistically expect the romance it promises? Knowing how slow travel impacts our lives can guide us to the tools and strategies we need to bring slow travel squarely into the narrative of mainstream tourism.