I recently heard a term that made a lot of sense to me, it was “slow travel”. I have been watching quite a few van lifers, who seem to typify this type a traveling where one is not in a rush to see everything all at once. This is something I have done for years without being able to put a phrase to it. I have always had the attitude of seeing fewer places and enjoying where you are that much longer.
I remember when I took my trip to Istanbul a few years ago, I told myself I wanted to thoroughly experience the city, like a local. I spent 7 nights in the same hotel, very close to the Blue Mosque and by the time my trip was over, I knew the area within about a five-mile walking distance very well. This was also a way for me to keep expenses down as I spent all that time walking and pretty much wearing out a pair of shoes by the end of my five-week trip which also included parts Amsterdam and my very first trip to Tanzania.
On a recent trip down south to California, I embraced this same idea and thought I had a few places on my list that were must-sees like Bombay Beach and Slab City, the rest of the trip was a plan as I go scenario. I had no idea where I was staying nor where I might end up each day. I wasn’t too worried about having space available in hotels because Covid had pretty much shut down everything and I knew there would be lots of rooms available pretty much everywhere.
The idea with slow travel is that you’re not really on a time schedule and should you see something of interest, you can stop and take the time to get those interesting photos and not be so focused on having to rush to a hotel or some other location that is pressing you for time because you made a reservation somewhere and you want to get into that hot shower and at least enjoy the time spent in the room that would likely only be yours till the next day.
I found so many interesting things on this last trip that I would not have likely seen had been rushing from place to place just to check things off of my “List” As a tour guide with my business Shutter Tours, in Seattle, in the past twelve years I have witnessed the fast travel idea with many of my guests. They like our tour because we offer a good overall look at the city and getting to the beautiful waterfall of Snoqualmie Falls all within a four-hour period. But then they have to rush off and see the rest of Seattle like the Space Needle and Underground Tour before their cruise departed the next day. It always amazed me that many people only had one full day in our great city and then off to a cruise or the airport.
Perhaps this is why I have embraced the idea of slow travel and just slowing down and really “seeing” as opposed to checking off things on a list.
When I was on my last trip, I left knowing at least some of the destinations I would be going like Slab City, Salvation Mountain and the Salton Sea, but other than that I really had no idea or clue.
I had only heard about Bombay Beach in passing, years ago but the night before I was going to the Salton Sea I saw another photographers post on Bombay Beach I and really had no clue what to expect, but it was probably my favorite surprise of the whole journey. In fact I liked it so much I ended up going there twice, using Palm Springs as my base for a few days.
At the end of the day I found myself less thrilled going to Slab City and though I met some interesting people there, the vibe was not what I expected and I didn’t go back the second day, even though I was pretty close. But if you’d like to get a better idea of what Slab City is like, check out this video by Yes Theory.
The last highlight on this trip was the El Dorado Canyon Mine. I had seen this on my friend Jaymz and fellow photographer‘s Facebook post. I knew my trip going through Nevada, this could not be missed.
This was another one of those slow travel days where I had no idea where I was staying at that night, a truck stop a rest area? It wasn’t until I asked the owner of the mine, where a great place to stay was and she is why I ended up in Boulder City, which she said I couldn’t miss.
So at the end of the day, I encourage you to slow down, don’t make plans and just go with the flow on your travel days. Spend more time in one location and don’t have a long list of preplanned stops. This will give you a better connection to the locals, the environment and will likely reduce the stress that inevitably comes with travel.
And if you missed the video of this twelve-day trip, check out the video above.