Slow Travel & Getting Local This Fall

I enjoyed a recent post by Pam over in the BlogHer Travel section (her Nerd’s Eye View piece on appreciating the US after overseas travel really grabbed me a few months ago.)

Pam talks about travel fatigue — trying to cram too much into a visit and ending up not really getting to know a place — and she talks about “slow travel” as the antidote.  This is a takeoff on the Slow Food movement, which proposes that food should be something that is grown locally, prepared well and not shoved in your face after a Taco Bell drive-through.

Not that I regularly order the 3 Taco Supreme meal (and isn’t the bucket of soda that it comes with a bit gross?) 

It is very easy to try to do too much during a trip; I’m certainly quite guilty of stuffing 10 pounds of poop into a 5 pound sack, as we used to say in the Navy.  If you’ve saved up money for a dreamed-for trip, and/or you’ve traveled a long way to see a place for the first time, you don’t want to miss anything.  This is how we end up on those “1-2 days in each city” tours of Europe that leave our heads spinning and conjure up memories of the old movie “If It’s Tuesday, It Must Be Belgium.”

What you’ve got to believe is that if you want to return to a place badly enough, you will.  It does not need to be the only trip to, say, Paris, that you ever take in your entire life.  Just decide that travel is a budgeting priority for you.  Others may buy plasma TVs, you go to New York City.  Or Paris. Or Buenos Aires. Or Mumbai.

Just do it.

While you’re sitting in your local equivalent of the Beltway Traffic Jam, pick a place you wish to go this autumn, and really plunk yourself down there, with a home exchangeapartment rental or Stateside rental so the hotel bill doesn’t kill you.  Get to know the neighborhood, the subway system, the trattoria or bistro around the corner.  The upside of this with kids is that they can spread out in a house or apartment, and they can also soak up local culture without feeling that they are just being dragged from one museum or cathedral or historical site to another.

I also recommend that you consider your own town, county or state for a fall or Thanksgiving vacation.  It’s not a vacation if you’re so wasted when you get back home that you….need a vacation.  Buy a guidebook to your local area, as though you were a brand-new tourist, and go visit places that are only a shortish drive from your home (my definition of shortish may be more longish than others; I’d say out to about a  2-3 hour drive is good for us.) 

Here in Texas, my father jokes that before he sees Buenos Aires he needs to go out to West Texas and see the Marfa Lights

So, while I certainly encourage some family travel fun this fall, and the ideas here and here….plus ideas for Europe here….are worth investigating, consider what is in your own time zone or even Zip code. 

Don’t be like the New Yorkers who never get around to seeing the Statue of Liberty.