Text: Afra Porsche, Bachelor’s degree in social anthropology
Our usual way of traveling contributes a lot to the current climate crisis. In the following, I
want to show how slow traveling can be an enjoyable way of protecting the earth.
Environmentally friendly traveling plays an important part in the challenge to protect the Earth. Ecotraveling by train, ship, bus, or other means of transport, is sometimes quite difficult to implement with all the disadvantages that come with it. It is slower, especially on larger distances. Sadly, it is also more expensive. Therefore, I understand why one would choose other forms of transportation on many occasions. However, slow traveling comes with other advantages. It is often more comfortable — you have larger windows and get a better feeling for the distance you just covered. More people need to appreciate the environmentally friendly forms of traveling as an enjoyable form of movement. In the following I want to give the reader an impression of the magic I see in slow traveling.
I would like you to think about your daily travels. To the university, to work, to sports activities, or to social gatherings. This is time that in most cases is not used in a very productive way; you may answer messages, think about the upcoming day, reflect on what happened, talk to a friend, or just take a minute for yourself and listen to a song. If we see these moments as opportunities to disconnect from the world, they can offer a small break during an otherwise stressful day.
Celebrating how you move helps you enjoy the adventure of your travel
Traveling longer distances in an ecofriendly way is comparable to your daily movements. You have time to unplug! In most cases, people are informed about you being on a train or bus and know that you’re not up for a meeting. In other words, there are no social obligations! When traveling, you are not expected to do anything else — you’re not even able to do most of the things you would usually do. You can just relax and enjoy a stress-free moment. If you commit to it and take your time without working, then you can do whatever you like to do instead. Your thoughts can flow freely. You may really get some thinking done and get inspired to start something new or to solve a problem. You can’t do any workout, nothing but sitting still and read, listen to music or podcasts or any other calm, non-moving, sitting activity. Maybe even have a chat with a fellow traveler. Which book has been on your reading wish list for years? Didn’t you always wanted to get into knitting? Give it a thought before starting your journey and I am sure you’ll find a way to spend the time. If taken as such, it is a moment of peace, reflection and calmness. It can serve as a break from life.
You change places, maybe something unknown awaits you. When traveling slowly, you have time to prepare for the upcoming events. You may cross borders, hear different languages, get in contact with new people and challenging situations. Just have a look outside the window: raindrops falling, sun shining and you’re passing different locations and landscapes. Everything changes slowly. There is no moment of shock when arriving at your final destination. These changes help you to get accustomed to the new situation awaiting you at the end of your travel. I would like you to think about your next travel and maybe, if you haven’t done it before, take your time and enjoy the distance and movement of slow traveling. Celebrating how you move helps you enjoy the adventure of your travel. And trust me, there is always a good story at the end of such a trip. I am now looking forward to my next trip, crossing Europe and letting my thoughts flow about the experiences I made in Norway.