Too often, speed is prized above quality. We’re not focused on the moment anymore—we’re focused on the next moment. We no longer ask, “where am I?” Instead, we ask, “where am I going?” Free yourself from the need for a specific agenda, and you’ll find that you may be able to get below the surface. In the oft-quoted words of Anatole France, “Wandering re-establishes the original harmony which once existed between man and the universe.” Here are five ways to slow it down a little.
Our earliest ancestors set the course for human evolution by standing up and walking across the savannah. Physical exercise in the great outdoors helps us reconnect with our natural surroundings, as well as with ourselves. It’s also a great way to experience a city. You never know what you’re going to see just around that next corner while on a search for coffee, or simply a place to sit down for a while. Ask a local for advice on the best places for all of the above.
Whether it’s a luxury journey with a sleeper car and dinner service, or the Moscow metro, train travel is another way to get an authentic feel for a place and a culture. From sweeping vistas of the Swiss Alps to the manic nature of the daily commute, trains offer ways to connect, and time to tell stories, that faster forms of travel leave by the wayside.
Local markets offer a window into food, culture, and commerce. It could be an early morning visit to the Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo, an afternoon the bazaars of Istanbul, or a street food supper in Ho Chi Minh City—take in the sights and smells and come away with a deeper understanding of place.
Yes, sitting. While it might seem obvious, these days it feels necessary to call it out as a legitimate pursuit. Sitting in cafes, ideally without the crutch of electronic media, and watching the world go by is a very important component of any traveler’s arsenal. Put it to good use. Go ahead—order that second macchiato. Just don’t forget to tip.
Okay, not everyone is going to try this. But it’s worth suggesting—we are, after all, strong proponents of immersing yourself.
Title photo by Maeve Nolan/AFAR.com.