Hi, welcome to Notes on Slow Travel.
- Travel unhurriedly and to allow the world to show itself on its own terms.
- Connect with your surroundings, whether with people, food, climate, nature, animals or (historic) culture.
- Be mindful in what you do, without fear and with an open mind for the unexpected.
If you already are a slow-travel traveler, I’d love to hear your ideas and experiences in the comments, or feel free to shoot me an email.
From Fast Travel to Slow Travel
Life in the western world is fast, and fast travel is common to many of us: running around to see all the capitals of Europe, to climb the highest mountain on each continent, to spot each type of wildlife in the Amazon, or to visit every single temple of the Angkor Wat Complex (good luck: there are about one hundred). In my previous life, vacations used to be all about doing as much as possible and I had a great time doing precisely that.
However, when I left the rat race in 2003 and set off to explore Asia with my partner Coen in an antique Land Cruiser, we discovered slow travel – although the term ‘slow travel’ was alien to us at the time. As we hit the road we soon found more pleasure in staying in places and connecting with people than trying to see/do ‘it’ all.
As Coen can so aptly describe it, ‘To experience it with all our senses: to feel the place, to smell the air, to taste the food, to see the sights but also what’s behind those hidden corners, and to hear the music, the cacophony of local life, or nature’s silence.”
Coen Wubbels is my love whom I met about a year before setting off on this journey. He’s the photographer for our freelance assignments (see our published work here), and the driver, mechanic and cook of Land Cruising Adventure. You can find his work here or follow him on Instagram.
We left the Netherlands with one guidebook, two maps and the idea to drive east as far as the Asian continent would allow us. During the three years we traveled from Europe to Southeast Asia we found a new way of life and never returned to the rat race again.
We shipped the Land Cruiser to South America instead, where we’ve been traveling since. By selling our stories and photos to magazines we have a source of income to finance this lifestyle.
To travel by car has been one of our best decisions ever. It provides us with some sort of comfort zone and gives us the freedom to travel and spend the night wherever we want. The Land Cruiser BJ45 has 90 square feet of space to sleep, and we live inside in case of rain or cold. Cooking is mostly done outside (when we are not eating out). Nature provides our bathroom and we take our baths in rivers and lakes.
Why Notes on Slow Travel?
This blog is about my ongoing search to find a balance between doing lots of things (whether this is writing, sightseeing, or doing anything else) and being intensely aware of where I am at any particular moment of the day or place in the world. There is this voice in me that starts shouting every once in a while.
While there is nothing wrong with being productive (as in creating some sort of tangible output), it is – in this sense – connected to thinking of others before myself, and in most cases about the future. The problem is that if I don’t watch it, this process never stops and, as a result, my life becomes utterly exhausting and ungratifying.
Talking with locals or other travelers, I’ve come to realize that I’m not the only one struggling with this. Hence this blog to share experiences on slow travel, or slow living. To show how beautiful life is in all its simplicity and complexity when we truly appreciate this moment of existence, unhurriedly and intensely. Not yesterday or tomorrow but now, and here.
I hope to meet you on this digital and/or real-life journey, so we can connect and share.
A Bit More about Me
I was born in the United States, grew up in the Netherlands, returned to the U.S. as an exchange student and lived in France for a year before obtaining a Bachelor Degree in Hotel Management in the Netherlands. I found a job with an in-house catering company where I worked my way up for some ten years through different management and troubleshooting functions.
Coen’s question to join him in exploring the world for a year or two was the perfect solution to my struggle in the rat race: I simply sold all I owned and no longer worried about aspects such as my career, a pension and a suffocating mortgage. I didn’t start this journey because I wanted to explore the world; I joined Coen because I wanted to leave a life that no longer suited me. Here you can find the story on how (easily) we took our life-changing decisions.
It took only a couple of days of traveling to fall in love with the world. I have greatly enjoyed exploring cultures that in many ways are so distinct from the culture I grew up in. I admire the differences between us, which enrich us, while appreciating our sameness as human beings.
Simultaneously, I fell in love with a lifestyle of living from day to day, with little or no concern about the future (other than a visa running out). I found a life of small but intense pleasures, of connecting with where I am and with whom I am. I learned that happiness lies within myself, not in a place, job, or partner (although they can all contribute to this feeling of happiness).
What I love most about my life is living off the grid, to largely live unplugged, without distractions, to be out of the rat race and no longer having to comply with those underlying, unspoken, at times rigid, demands of social norms that are inherent in all societies. To be open to what comes on our path: a friendly encounter, an invitation to somebody’s home, an intriguing cultural site, a splendid meal. In a certain way, Coen and I have even both come to embrace car trouble or other obstacles, in a certain way as well – granted, that depends a lot on our mood – because in many cases this has led to the most extraordinary experiences.
I look forward to sharing my slow travel experiences with you, here on this website (feel free contribute with your ideas on the topic in the comment section below the blogs), and/or through social media. You can find me on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and I also blog on Landcruisingadventure.com.
All photos by Coen Wubbels. You can follow him on Instagram.