This bank holiday weekend is your opportunity to join the international Slow Travel movement; the extra day will afford you the luxury of taking your time getting to your favourite holiday spot but there's more to Slow Travel than that. The term does not, in fact, necessarily indicate that you'll be longer arriving.
Slow Travel is an invitation to savour the journey as much as the destination. In many ways, it's a lesson in life. It expresses the mindset of a traveller that engages with the riches along the way rather than squandering the enjoyment of a journey by focusing exclusively on the end point. Slow Travel poses a more universal question of why we do things: is it the destination that counts or the experience getting there? As the Woody Allen quote goes, "I took a speed reading course and read 'War and Peace' in twenty minutes. It involves Russia."
Behind Slow Travel, there's a wider idea called the Slow Movement. In 1986, an Italian journalist protested the opening of a fast food restaurant in Piazza di Spagna, and the Slow Food organisation was born. It advocates a commitment to community, the environment and local culinary tradition: the how and why of food. The movement is now an international campaign for slowing down life's pace to enjoy it more fully.
Another example is Slow Design. Again, Slow refers here to the process and not the object itself: designers consider the meaning and aim of an object rather than banging it right into production, irrespective. A holistic approach aims to balance individual, socio-cultural and environmental needs. Slow does not literally mean the amount of time actually spent making or using a product but describes the quality of that time.
In the UK, we have a Slow Travel visionary, Hilary Bradt (Most Excellent Order of the British Empire for services to the Tourist Industry). In 1974, Hilary and husband, George, began Brandt Travel Guides, a boutique publishing company, by writing their first guidebook whilst navigating a tributary to the Amazon. But there's no need to catch a flight anywhere exotic to enjoy their wonderfully detailed, often unconventional guides. So far they've published 21 guides to Britain for discerning travellers looking to slow down, explore and enjoy hidden gems, including Slow Cotswalds, Slow Devon & Exmoor, Slow North Yorkshire and more.
If you're true to the principles of the Slow Movement you head to your chosen corner of England in a car share. A shared trip enriches a journey through unexpected conversations with your co-sharers. You'll learn about something you had never thought you'd get the inside picture on, discover a shared interest, or swap stories about landmarks as you travel. And, I should know how fun a shared journey can be as I car share regularly, and founded a popular car sharing website. We named it BlaBlaCar to describe the amazing social experience it adds to travel. Car sharing is much more than just getting there.
For example, one of our London-based members was visiting France recently and found a driver heading to the South through the Loire valley, taking only the historic roads (as opposed to the newer, straighter, faster motorways) in order to enjoy the sights. It's one of the most magical roads in the world, and they stopped to visit three different castles along the way. It turned out to be the best part of her holiday--and a perfect illustration of Slow Travel.
So, if you want to live your Bank Holiday experience to the full, take a page from the Slow manifesto and savour your journey as much as the destination. You'll get a new perspective on life along the way.
Follow Nicolas Brusson on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@nbrusson