Is it time you travelled differently?
Written by: Julia Hammond
A new year is the time for resolutions and as we make promises to ourselves about our health and lifestyle, why not include the way we travel? Adopt even one of these suggestions and you will reap the rewards. Here’s why it’s time you travelled differently.
Embrace slow travel
The flight shaming movement gathered momentum in 2019 but for many, the luxury of travelling by slower methods of transport such as trains isn’t practical. If your days off won’t stretch that far, think about how you can change your travel style on the ground. Why would you rush from sight to sight ticking off a must-see list, rather than spend time getting to know a place? It’s a mistake to “do Italy” in a week, for instance, rushing from Rome to Florence and Milan to Venice, barely scratching the surface along the way. Instead, base yourself in one of those great cities, allowing yourself the time to get to know people and those hidden gems that are so rewarding. You’ll learn so much more about the place and return home more fulfilled.
Reduce your use of single use plastic
2019 also saw a growing awareness of the impact single use plastic was having on our planet. While we can’t reduce our dependence on the stuff completely, there’s much we can do to be a greener traveller. Instead of buying bottled water, pack a refillable bottle. If travelling to areas where water quality is questionable, opt for one with a built-in filter which purifies as well as stores. Wet wipes are an invaluable item to have with us when we’re on the go, but plastic is used in their manufacture and they end up in landfill. But it’s possible to buy wipes that are biodegradable, and the cost is similar too.
The trouble with organised tours is that they’re so organised. There’s a place for guided excursions – in fact, guides often add something to a trip that makes it much more special, with insider knowledge that helps you interpret your surroundings. But there’s also much to be said for going it alone. Take a day, or even just a morning, to wander off on your own. Ditch the guide book and leave the map back at the hotel. Simply go where the fancy takes you and see where that leads you. If that’s a step too far, seek out a neighbourhood that speaks to you. Download a walking tour from the internet – there’s plenty to choose from – and follow it to explore independently. You can set your own pace and your own agenda, with no one but yourself to tell you it’s time to move on.
Rediscover somewhere you thought you already knew
Some of the best trips you’ll ever have will be those where you revisit a place. Free from the feeling you need to see the sights, you can concentrate on properly getting to know the place and its people. Spend the time you would have allocated to that must-see museum. In its place, sit in a park enjoying the fragrant blooms that surround you. Frequent the neighbourhood café until you know the barista by name. Rent an apartment and head down to the market to shop for groceries. Ditch the top restaurants and seek out freshly cooked street food that’s bursting with flavour. Take a ride in a slow boat simply to feel the breeze on your face, or rent a bicycle to explore the surrounding countryside at a leisurely pace.
Learn a new skill
Education is a lifelong thing and it there’s no reason to put it on hold while we go on holiday unless we want it that way. Some of the most rewarding travel experiences out there involve learning a new skill. Book a yoga instructor and practise those new moves on the beach to the soothing sound of the waves. Sign up for a cookery class and create some of the area’s signature dishes before tucking in to a delicious lunch. Learn how to surf, ski, ride a horse or abseil down a cliff face. The activity you choose can be as adventurous – or not – as you like, but the feeling of satisfaction you’ll have once you’ve mastered a new skill will be second to none.