Be honest: the last time you took a holiday, was it the stress-free experience you had been so long hankering after, or did it end up being a bit irritable and disappointing? And - be honest - did you take to Facebook or Twitter while you were holidaying?

The art of travel is to relax and be away from work, but it's also to engage with different surroundings and learn more about yourself and the world you live in.

In the world of budget airlines and cheap deals, have we lost sight of what travel really is about?

relax travel

Dan Kieran, whose book The Idle Traveller is all about the 'art' of slow travel, spoke to HuffPost UK Lifestyle about how to create a better state of wellbeing and get the most out of travel.

What’s the book about?
The premise of the book is to say we don’t travel anymore we only arrive, we’ve lost sight of what travel is about. It’s not prescriptive to say you’re travelling or holidaying in the wrong way, but for me travel is a completely different thing, Slow travel changes the way you think, and the most crucial component, it’s where my mind goes between my home and where I’m going.

What is slow travel?
It delves into neuroscience, into the way the brain works. Most of the time, your unconscious mind is in control, and your conscious mind is brought into play when confronted with something new.

Once you’ve learned how to do something you require less brain power to do it. And once you crack it, you stop learning how to do it. When you travel in a ‘slow’ way, you’re forced to confront new things. This is why people ‘find themselves’ when they go travelling because they are more aware of who they are because they are more conscious.

Let’s start with when you arrive at the airport. You see the same brands, it’s the same aeroplane, sitting on the same type of seats, and you watch same TV shows. You arrive at another airport, to get into a taxi to a hotel which you’ve chosen for its western comforts.

You’re moving, not travelling, If you travel slowly, the language changes, the landscape, everything about your experience is different. You’re pulled into that different state where you’re more aware – that’s why we love travel. We’re so worried about things going wrong but actually, all those things you love ARE the things which went wrong.

dan kieran


How can we be more slow in our travel?
One of the most simple things to do is once you get to destination is to put your phone and watch in the safe and leave it there. There are two kinds of time – how we perceive time; Kronos – the god of chronological time – is the time frame of the holiday. The other god of time Kairos is about ‘seize the moment’ divine time. That for me is what travel is about. The watch is about work – so put it away. You’ll find you’re perfectly able to function. You eat when you’re hungry. And once you’re out, you start to discover things.


So no guidebooks then?

Forget about guidebooks. Travelling across the world to see something you know is there is ridiculous. I went to Barcelona and I thought, I’m not going to set out to see anything by Gaudi because it’s in all the books. Through my travels, I stumbled across them anyway. But because I stumbled across them the experience was better than if I’d looked it up in a book.

The world is not a spreadsheet you have to complete – if you can, disconnect yourself. Take cash, leave your card at the hotel. Get a map from lobby and head out - even if you do it just for one day.

swimming travel

But what if things go wrong?
We’re a bit feeble, and the big thing is vulnerability. Everything about travel is seen through a prism of fear. What if everything isn’t like it is at home? Then you start worrying about what if you break your leg. You’re always looking for reasons why it hasn’t lived up to your expectations.

The certain type of popular travel most people do now actually insulates you from people you are visiting. At a luxury hotel, the only interaction you have is from people who serve you and that affects your mind.

SLOW TRAVEL:
  • Leave the guidebook behind
  • Put your watch and phone in the safe
  • Don't even THINK about going on Facebook
  • If something goes wrong, it's not going to ruin the holiday
  • Say no to a guided tour
  • Go walkabout

Erm, so no social media then?
Facebook and email is like an enormous pole with a hook at the end and it has just yanked you back to your desk. It’s like a box-ticking mentality. It’s not enough to experience it, I have to record it.

And of course, it depends what you want to go away from. What I find interesting is most people are looking for a kind of experience but then end up booking some sort of package deal, and then it never lives up to expectations. That’s why people get stressed out and then start to argue.

What are the benefits of slow travel?
When you read books about time, you find out that there is no time, the only thing that exists is now. Past, present, and future – these are just concepts in our brain.

Everything you experience is the interpretation of consciousness, it doesn’t matter where you go physically. Slow travel is an amazing way of accessing who you are and where you are going. And - time is a construct, slow travel makes your holiday last longer.

Longer holidays? Who doesn’t want that?

The Idle Traveller, £7.99, AA

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  • Nantucket Lightship

    <a href="http://www.nantucketlightship.com/">Nantucket Lightship</a> A decommissioned lightship -- a craft designed to act as a floating lighthouse -- the Nantucket has been refurbished with mahogany- and cherry-paneled interiors and can now be chartered as a vacation rental in the Northeast, operating out of Martha's Vineyard, Nantucket, Newport and New York City.

  • Nantucket Lightship

    <a href="http://www.nantucketlightship.com/">Nantucket Lightship</a> A decommissioned lightship -- a craft designed to act as a floating lighthouse -- the Nantucket has been refurbished with mahogany- and cherry-paneled interiors and can now be chartered as a vacation rental in the Northeast, operating out of Martha's Vineyard, Nantucket, Newport and New York City.

  • Nantucket Lightship

    <a href="http://www.nantucketlightship.com/">Nantucket Lightship</a> A decommissioned lightship -- a craft designed to act as a floating lighthouse -- the Nantucket has been refurbished with mahogany- and cherry-paneled interiors and can now be chartered as a vacation rental in the Northeast, operating out of Martha's Vineyard, Nantucket, Newport and New York City.

  • Nantucket Lightship

    <a href="http://www.nantucketlightship.com/">Nantucket Lightship</a> A decommissioned lightship -- a craft designed to act as a floating lighthouse -- the Nantucket has been refurbished with mahogany- and cherry-paneled interiors and can now be chartered as a vacation rental in the Northeast, operating out of Martha's Vineyard, Nantucket, Newport and New York City.

  • Soneva Gili

    <a href="http://www.sixsenses.com/soneva-gili/">Soneva Gili</a> From luxury hotel company Six Senses, the Soneva Gili is off the shore of Lankanfushi Island in the Maldives, the low-lying archepelago nation in the Indian Ocean. With 45 over-water villas, its small wonder that some are called "Crusoe Residences," after literature's most famous castaway.

  • Soneva Gili

    <a href="http://www.sixsenses.com/soneva-gili/">Soneva Gili</a> From luxury hotel company Six Senses, the Soneva Gili is off the shore of Lankanfushi Island in the Maldives, the low-lying archepelago nation in the Indian Ocean. With 45 over-water villas, its small wonder that some are called "Crusoe Residences," after literature's most famous castaway.

  • Soneva Gili

    <a href="http://www.sixsenses.com/soneva-gili/">Soneva Gili</a> From luxury hotel company Six Senses, the Soneva Gili is off the shore of Lankanfushi Island in the Maldives, the low-lying archepelago nation in the Indian Ocean. With 45 over-water villas, its small wonder that some are called "Crusoe Residences," after literature's most famous castaway.

  • Soneva Gili

    <a href="http://www.sixsenses.com/soneva-gili/">Soneva Gili</a> From luxury hotel company Six Senses, the Soneva Gili is off the shore of Lankanfushi Island in the Maldives, the low-lying archepelago nation in the Indian Ocean. With 45 over-water villas, its small wonder that some are called "Crusoe Residences," after literature's most famous castaway.

  • River Kwai Jungle Raft

    <a href="http://www.riverkwaijunglerafts.com">River Kwai Jungle Raft</a> Floating since 1976, this raft of rooms snakes its way down the River Kwai, less than three hours from Bangkok. Individual rafts support each room, each of which has an outdoor deck complete with hammock. In a nod to the area's ethnic culture, the hotel makes an effort to employ local Mon people.

  • River Kwai Jungle Raft

    <a href="http://www.riverkwaijunglerafts.com">River Kwai Jungle Raft</a> Floating since 1976, this raft of rooms snakes its way down the River Kwai, less than three hours from Bangkok. Individual rafts support each room, each of which has an outdoor deck complete with hammock. In a nod to the area's ethnic culture, the hotel makes an effort to employ local Mon people.

  • River Kwai Jungle Raft

    <a href="http://www.riverkwaijunglerafts.com">River Kwai Jungle Raft</a> Floating since 1976, this raft of rooms snakes its way down the River Kwai, less than three hours from Bangkok. Individual rafts support each room, each of which has an outdoor deck complete with hammock. In a nod to the area's ethnic culture, the hotel makes an effort to employ local Mon people.

  • River Kwai Jungle Raft

    <a href="http://www.riverkwaijunglerafts.com">River Kwai Jungle Raft</a> Floating since 1976, this raft of rooms snakes its way down the River Kwai, less than three hours from Bangkok. Individual rafts support each room, each of which has an outdoor deck complete with hammock. In a nod to the area's ethnic culture, the hotel makes an effort to employ local Mon people.

  • Amstel Botel

    <a href="http://www.amstelbotel.nl/en/">Amstel Botel</a> A natural fit for canal-filled Amsterdam, the massive Botel has 175 cabins with rooms for less than €100 per night, not a bad rate for the European capital. An on-board bar stays open late, offering ample opportunity to lift glasses with your fellow passengers.

  • Amstel Botel

    <a href="http://www.amstelbotel.nl/en/">Amstel Botel</a> A natural fit for canal-filled Amsterdam, the massive Botel has 175 cabins with rooms for less than €100 per night, not a bad rate for the European capital. An on-board bar stays open late, offering ample opportunity to lift glasses with your fellow passengers.

  • Amstel Botel

    <a href="http://www.amstelbotel.nl/en/">Amstel Botel</a> A natural fit for canal-filled Amsterdam, the massive Botel has 175 cabins with rooms for less than €100 per night, not a bad rate for the European capital. An on-board bar stays open late, offering ample opportunity to lift glasses with your fellow passengers.

  • Amstel Botel

    <a href="http://www.amstelbotel.nl/en/">Amstel Botel</a> A natural fit for canal-filled Amsterdam, the massive Botel has 175 cabins with rooms for less than €100 per night, not a bad rate for the European capital. An on-board bar stays open late, offering ample opportunity to lift glasses with your fellow passengers.

  • Boat Hotel Fortuna

    <a href="http://www.ohb.hu/fortuna/index.en.html">Boat Hotel Fortuna</a> A river city like Budapest is well suited to a floating hotel like this, a 84-room boat, docked on the Pest side of the Danube. Rooms may tend to the small side -- and hostel-like accommodations on one deck are thin on comforts -- but the location near the park on Margit Island is a big plus.

  • Boat Hotel Fortuna

    <a href="http://www.ohb.hu/fortuna/index.en.html">Boat Hotel Fortuna</a> A river city like Budapest is well suited to a floating hotel like this, a 84-room boat, docked on the Pest side of the Danube. Rooms may tend to the small side -- and hostel-like accommodations on one deck are thin on comforts -- but the location near the park on Margit Island is a big plus.

  • Punta Caracol

    <a href="http://www.puntacaracol.com/">Punta Caracol</a> This series of over-water villas look more Polynesian than Central American but visitors nevertheless find them floating among the sparsely populated islands of Panama's Bocas del Toro. Built from native materials, the nine cabins have solar panels and sensitive water treatment systems with an eye toward protecting the surrounding Caribbean Sea.

  • Punta Caracol

    <a href="http://www.puntacaracol.com/">Punta Caracol</a> This series of over-water villas look more Polynesian than Central American but visitors nevertheless find them floating among the sparsely populated islands of Panama's Bocas del Toro. Built from native materials, the nine cabins have solar panels and sensitive water treatment systems with an eye toward protecting the surrounding Caribbean Sea.

  • Punta Caracol

    <a href="http://www.puntacaracol.com/">Punta Caracol</a> This series of over-water villas look more Polynesian than Central American but visitors nevertheless find them floating among the sparsely populated islands of Panama's Bocas del Toro. Built from native materials, the nine cabins have solar panels and sensitive water treatment systems with an eye toward protecting the surrounding Caribbean Sea.

  • CPH Living

    <a href="http://www.cphliving.com/pagei.html">CPH Living</a> Docked canal-side in Copenhagen's eclectic Christianshavn neighborhood, CPH Living is a limited-service hotel that nevertheless exudes boatloads of Scandinavian chic. A small breakfast room offers one place to hang out but the real draw is the rooftop sundeck, complete with lounge chairs and killer views of the city skyline.

  • CPH Living

    <a href="http://www.cphliving.com/pagei.html">CPH Living</a> Docked canal-side in Copenhagen's eclectic Christianshavn neighborhood, CPH Living is a limited-service hotel that nevertheless exudes boatloads of Scandinavian chic. A small breakfast room offers one place to hang out but the real draw is the rooftop sundeck, complete with lounge chairs and killer views of the city skyline.

  • CPH Living

    <a href="http://www.cphliving.com/pagei.html">CPH Living</a> Docked canal-side in Copenhagen's eclectic Christianshavn neighborhood, CPH Living is a limited-service hotel that nevertheless exudes boatloads of Scandinavian chic. A small breakfast room offers one place to hang out but the real draw is the rooftop sundeck, complete with lounge chairs and killer views of the city skyline.

  • De Barge

    <a href="http://www.hoteldebarge.be/index.asp?taal=en">De Barge</a> The canals of Medieval Bruges are a natural fit for this impeccably designed boat hotel and restaurant. Sailboat-inspired rooms have navy-and-white color palattes and beds are stacked with pillows <em>and</em> lifejackets. Mirrors set inside porthole fittings are a particularly whimsical touch.

  • De Barge

    <a href="http://www.hoteldebarge.be/index.asp?taal=en">De Barge</a> The canals of Medieval Bruges are a natural fit for this impeccably designed boat hotel and restaurant. Sailboat-inspired rooms have navy-and-white color palattes and beds are stacked with pillows <em>and</em> lifejackets. Mirrors set inside porthole fittings are a particularly whimsical touch.

  • Boggsville Boatel

    <a href="http://www.fluxfactory.org/events/constance-hockaday%E2%80%99s-boggsville-boatel-and-boat-in-theater/">Boggsville Boatel</a> A seasonal art project in Jamaica Bay, Queens, the boatel is a collection of six vintage pleasure boats assembled by artist Constance Hockaday. With whole boats, many of which can sleep four comfortably, going for $50-$100 a night, this could be one of the cheapest -- and coolest -- hotels in New York City. The not-for-profit art installation plans to return for the summer of 2012.

  • Boggsville Boatel

    <a href="http://www.fluxfactory.org/events/constance-hockaday%E2%80%99s-boggsville-boatel-and-boat-in-theater/">Boggsville Boatel</a> A seasonal art project in Jamaica Bay, Queens, the boatel is a collection of six vintage pleasure boats assembled by artist Constance Hockaday. With whole boats, many of which can sleep four comfortably, going for $50-$100 a night, this could be one of the cheapest -- and coolest -- hotels in New York City. The not-for-profit art installation plans to return for the summer of 2012.

  • Boggsville Boatel

    <a href="http://www.fluxfactory.org/events/constance-hockaday%E2%80%99s-boggsville-boatel-and-boat-in-theater/">Boggsville Boatel</a> A seasonal art project in Jamaica Bay, Queens, the boatel is a collection of six vintage pleasure boats assembled by artist Constance Hockaday. With whole boats, many of which can sleep four comfortably, going for $50-$100 a night, this could be one of the cheapest -- and coolest -- hotels in New York City. The not-for-profit art installation plans to return for the summer of 2012.

  • Boggsville Boatel

    <a href="http://www.fluxfactory.org/events/constance-hockaday%E2%80%99s-boggsville-boatel-and-boat-in-theater/">Boggsville Boatel</a> A seasonal art project in Jamaica Bay, Queens, the boatel is a collection of six vintage pleasure boats assembled by artist Constance Hockaday. With whole boats, many of which can sleep four comfortably, going for $50-$100 a night, this could be one of the cheapest -- and coolest -- hotels in New York City. The not-for-profit art installation plans to return for the summer of 2012.

  • Boggsville Boatel

    <a href="http://www.fluxfactory.org/events/constance-hockaday%E2%80%99s-boggsville-boatel-and-boat-in-theater/">Boggsville Boatel</a> A seasonal art project in Jamaica Bay, Queens, the boatel is a collection of six vintage pleasure boats assembled by artist Constance Hockaday. With whole boats, many of which can sleep four comfortably, going for $50-$100 a night, this could be one of the cheapest -- and coolest -- hotels in New York City. The not-for-profit art installation plans to return for the summer of 2012.

  • Boggsville Boatel

    <a href="http://www.fluxfactory.org/events/constance-hockaday%E2%80%99s-boggsville-boatel-and-boat-in-theater/">Boggsville Boatel</a> A seasonal art project in Jamaica Bay, Queens, the boatel is a collection of six vintage pleasure boats assembled by artist Constance Hockaday. With whole boats, many of which can sleep four comfortably, going for $50-$100 a night, this could be one of the cheapest -- and coolest -- hotels in New York City. The not-for-profit art installation plans to return for the summer of 2012.

  • King Pacific Lodge

    <a href="http://www.kingpacificlodge.com/">King Pacific Lodge</a> Hidden in the wilds of British Columbia, the King Pacific is only accessible by float plane, a resort removed from civilization but still heavy on the luxury. Operated by high-end hoteliers Rosewood, all the standard resort amenities are here, along with above-and-beyond offerings that include deep-sea Chinook salmon fishing and heli-yoga, a chopper flight to a nearby glade surrounded by mountains and glaciers for a private -- and no doubt breathtaking -- stretching session.

  • King Pacific Lodge

    <a href="http://www.kingpacificlodge.com/">King Pacific Lodge</a> Hidden in the wilds of British Columbia, the King Pacific is only accessible by float plane, a resort removed from civilization but still heavy on the luxury. Operated by high-end hoteliers Rosewood, all the standard resort amenities are here, along with above-and-beyond offerings that include deep-sea Chinook salmon fishing and heli-yoga, a chopper flight to a nearby glade surrounded by mountains and glaciers for a private -- and no doubt breathtaking -- stretching session.

  • Floatel

    <a href="http://floatelhotel.com/about_us.htm">Floatel</a> Set in the River Hooghly in Kolkata, this 49-room property claims to be India's only floating hotel -- though there's at least one other, in Kerala, later in this slideshow. Open-air banquet halls and a promenade deck make the Floatel well-suited to parties, but it's downtown riverside location makes it a suitable base for exploring the city, with many attractions just a short walk away.

  • Floatel

    <a href="http://floatelhotel.com/about_us.htm">Floatel</a> Set in the River Hooghly in Kolkata, this 49-room property claims to be India's only floating hotel -- though there's at least one other, in Kerala, later in this slideshow. Open-air banquet halls and a promenade deck make the Floatel well-suited to parties, but it's downtown riverside location makes it a suitable base for exploring the city, with many attractions just a short walk away.

  • Sun Boat IV

    <a href="http://www.abercrombiekent.com/travel-destinations/middle-east-luxury-travel/egypt/luxury-nile-cruise-on-sun-boat-IV-4.cfm">MS Sun Boat IV</a> Admittedly more cruise ship than floating hotel, the Sun Boat IV plies the waters of the Nile for tour operator Abercrombie & Kent. Floor-to-ceiling windows offer great views of the coastline from staterooms, while guests can swim al fresco in a tiled swimming pool on the Sun Deck.

  • Sun Boat IV

    <a href="http://www.abercrombiekent.com/travel-destinations/middle-east-luxury-travel/egypt/luxury-nile-cruise-on-sun-boat-IV-4.cfm">MS Sun Boat IV</a> Admittedly more cruise ship than floating hotel, the Sun Boat IV plies the waters of the Nile for tour operator Abercrombie & Kent. Floor-to-ceiling windows offer great views of the coastline from staterooms, while guests can swim al fresco in a tiled swimming pool on the Sun Deck.

  • Yavari

    <a href="http://www.yavari.org">Yavari</a> On Lake Titicaca, this is likely the highest floating hotel in the world, a fine distinction in its own right. But the Guardian calls it "<a href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/travel/2011/sep/07/yavari-lake-titicaca-peru-hotel-bandb">the best bed and breakfast in South America</a>," a $38-a-night stay in otherwise dreary Puno, the southern city that's the gateway to the Peruvian shores of the lake.

  • Yavari

    <a href="http://www.yavari.org">Yavari</a> On Lake Titicaca, this is likely the highest floating hotel in the world, a fine distinction in its own right. But the Guardian calls it "<a href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/travel/2011/sep/07/yavari-lake-titicaca-peru-hotel-bandb">the best bed and breakfast in South America</a>," a $38-a-night stay in otherwise dreary Puno, the southern city that's the gateway to the Peruvian shores of the lake.

  • Jugendgaesteschiff Rostock

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/buts_parisi"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://s.huffpost.com/images/profile/user_placeholder.gif" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/buts_parisi">buts parisi</a>:<br />Floating and eating full board for a fraction of the money you pay in the other maritime hotels. The youth hostel is in the centre of Rostock/Germany at the Baltic Sea. Nothing fancy, just very authentic and charming.

  • MV Apsara

    <a href="http://www.theparkhotels.com/kerala/the-park-mv-apsara.html">MV Apsara</a> An offshoot of the Park on Vembanad hotel in India's southern tip, the Apsara offers eight contemporary-chic cabins. Docked on Lake Kerala, the hotel offers three-night cruises around the lake's backwaters, for an utterly tranquil tour of this less-traveled part of the country.

  • MV Apsara

    <a href="http://www.theparkhotels.com/kerala/the-park-mv-apsara.html">MV Apsara</a> An offshoot of the Park on Vembanad hotel in India's southern tip, the Apsara offers eight contemporary-chic cabins. Docked on Lake Kerala, the hotel offers three-night cruises around the lake's backwaters, for an utterly tranquil tour of this less-traveled part of the country.

  • Malardrottningen

    <a href="http://malardrottningen.se/home.aspx">Malardrottningen Hotel</a> First built in 1924, this yacht was at one time owned by Woolworth heiress Barbara Hutton and then the British Royal Navy, before being docked quay-side in Stockholm, a stone's throw from Riddarholmen Church. This being Scandinavia, there is --in addition to 61 cabins -- an on-board sauna for guest use.

  • Malardrottningen

    <a href="http://malardrottningen.se/home.aspx">Malardrottningen Hotel</a> First built in 1924, this yacht was at one time owned by Woolworth heiress Barbara Hutton and then the British Royal Navy, before being docked quay-side in Stockholm, a stone's throw from Riddarholmen Church. This being Scandinavia, there is --in addition to 61 cabins -- an on-board sauna for guest use.

  • Utter Inn

    <a href="http://www.vasterasmalarstaden.se/sv/hotell_utter_inn__hotel_otter_inn__a2231_s791.html">Utter Inn</a> This single-room floating cabin near Stockholm in Lake Mälaren is more architectural funhouse than hotel, a concept by artist Mikael Genberg. A small stereotypical Swedish cabin above water gives way to below-the-surface sleeping quarters complete with windows for spying on fish.

  • Reefsleep

    The Great Barrier Reef's <a href="http://www.fantasea.com.au/page/reefsleep/">Reefsleep experience</a> lets snorkelers and scuba divers spend the night out on the water, 40 nautical miles from the mainland. In addition to two air conditioned rooms, the Reefsleep also offers an underwater viewing chamber and an above-water sightseeing platform. Best of all, though, is that all other divers leave by mid-afternoon, leaving guests blissfully alone out at the Hardy Reef.

  • Hôtel Palafitte is on the Neuchâtel Lake in Switzerland, one of the only over-water hotels in Europe. The five-star property offers plenty of quiet, with 24 individual suites floating above the lake -- each tricked out with appropriately bleeding-edge electronics and coffeemakers befitting a luxe Swiss hotel.

  • Hôtel Palafitte is on the Neuchâtel Lake in Switzerland, one of the only over-water hotels in Europe. The five-star property offers plenty of quiet, with 24 individual suites floating above the lake -- each tricked out with appropriately bleeding-edge electronics and coffeemakers befitting a luxe Swiss hotel.

  • Hôtel Palafitte is on the Neuchâtel Lake in Switzerland, one of the only over-water hotels in Europe. The five-star property offers plenty of quiet, with 24 individual suites floating above the lake -- each tricked out with appropriately bleeding-edge electronics and coffeemakers befitting a luxe Swiss hotel.

  • "Top 10 Unusual Hotels"

    This feed contains the video's "Top 10 Unusual Hotels" info API