When the journey is the destination: 5 ways to enjoy slow travel
Hey there! What's the big rush? You're on vacation, so sit back and enjoy the ride. Sometimes the best part of travel is the journey.
When most people think about travel, the first mode of transportation that usually comes to mind is air. No doubt planes are amazing, especially when it comes to getting you somewhere quickly. But what about the things you miss when you’re flying 500 mph through the sky? What if the journey could be the thing worth experiencing, instead of just a middleman used to get you someplace else?
While this might sound contradictory to typical vacation plans, it actually allows for an entirely new way to see the world, and more often than not, a memorable one. Traveling in a slow and steady motion lets you observe so much more and that is something worth talking about. So let’s talk about it, by land and sea.
Hop on board
There are just some things that you’ll never be able to see when you’re flying 30,000 feet in the sky, and if you take a train trip, you’ll realize that pretty quickly. Although still a popular way to travel, trains have a nostalgic feel. Just like in classic films, passengers can rest in sleeping cars, eat in dining cars, and read in quiet cars. Glass cars, a more modern update, allow riders to get a cinematic perspective on the passing scenery through floor-to-ceiling windows.
Trips We Recommend
Amtrak’s Empire Builder (United States): This scenic route takes you across America through some of the country's most stunning landscapes. Passing through Glacier National Park, the midwestern plains, and a mountain-cut tunnel that is more than 5 miles long, you won’t be able to stop looking out the window.
The Ghan, Great Southern Rail (Australia): Running through the Australian Outback, this passenger train bisects the country from top to bottom—from Darwin on the northern coast to Adelaide in the south. Riders will see sights that range from grazing sheep in the grasslands to seemingly endless red sand in the desert.
Venice Simplon-Orient-Express (Europe): Crisscrossing much of central Europe, this train has several routes so you can pick your own path. With lines passing through such historic cities as Paris, London, Venice, Istanbul, and Budapest, you'll have plenty of opportunities to take in fascinating new perspectives—and tasty cuisines.
Road trip it
Nothing beats the freedom of a road trip. Want to see the world’s largest yarn ball in Cawker City, Kansas? Sure. Want to drive through the Great Salt Flats of Utah and stop for a photo? No problem. Want to go up into the mountains and drive some famously windy roads like the Kancamagus Highway in New Hampshire? Totally doable.
Trips We Recommend
Highway 101 (Washington, Oregon, and California): While traveling down the coast, make a stop at Avila Beach to soak up some rays, Paso Robles for some wine tasting, and Carmel for some boutique shopping.
Blue Ridge Parkway (The Carolinas and Virginia): The scenic forest landscape is a highlight of this drive, but there are some sweet hidden spots worth checking out along the way. Make a visit to the Poor Farmer’s Market at Mile 178, the Mayberry Trading Post at Mile 180, and the Orchard at Mile 328 for handmade jams, homemade woodworks, and heirloom apples.
Florida Keys Island Chain (Florida): The Keys are a beach-lover’s paradise. Get your fill of colorful marine life, spot some manatees, and relax on white sand during pitstops between islands. Be sure to stop at Key West for its shallow dive points and Duck Key to photograph breathtaking reefs.
Before planes, trains, cars, and just about anything else, there were boats. Today’s cruise ships are designed to keep you happy, healthy, relaxed, and entertained. Many of them also offer daily departures to visit coastal cities by day and return to your main ship by night. Doesn’t everyone want to stand at the front of a boat and hold out their arms Titanic style?
Trips We Recommend
Hurtigruten (Norway): This cruise offers mesmerizing views of what are mostly untouched areas of Norway’s landscape. Experience the Northern Lights, the Midnight Sun, and Norwegian Fjords while sailing peacefully around the country.
National Geographic Explorer (Antarctica): A 14-day voyage on this ship is sure to be an unforgettable experience. Along with a team of experienced naturalists, explore the southernmost part of the world by kayak and hike on the frozen land. With experts leading the way, you’ll learn about all the things that cross your path.
M/V Aqua Amazon (South America): This luxury cruise ship takes you down the Amazon and into its most lush areas, and it does so in style. Complete with an air-conditioned bar, slated bathroom walls, and marble flooring, travel doesn’t get much classier than this.
Ride the magic bus
Traveling by bus offers a similar experience to that of a road trip, without the responsibility of having to drive. Not to mention, if you book yourself a ticket on a double-decker, the view gets even cooler. Most traveling buses have built-in outlets, wifi, and a decent amount of legroom, which is great for those who want to get some writing, reading, and note-taking in while they get inspired by the local scenery in passing. In addition to cross-country bus routes, hopping on a city bus is a great way to truly immerse yourself in an area and interact with the locals.
Trips We Recommend
Number 52 (Oahu, Hawaii): Referred to as “The Bus,” this route includes stops in Waikiki, downtown Honolulu, and at the famous Ala Moana Mall. It takes a little over two hours to complete.
Number 37 (San Francisco, California): This bus route is a cool one because it passes through areas of San Francisco that aren’t necessarily your average tourist stops. Catch a great view of the Haight-Ashbury Victorians, cruise through The Castro, and finish off your ride in Twin Peaks (the second highest destination in the city).
Big Bus Tour in Vienna (Vienna, Austria): While taking local buses is a great experience, engaging in a tourist-specific bus tour isn’t a bad idea either. This particular bus route allows passengers to hop on and off the bus at all of Vienna’s most popular landmarks, including the Vienna State Opera, the Maria Theresa Monument, and Schönbrunn Palace.
Nothing quite lets you experience the beauty of nature like traveling by foot. It may sound daunting at first, but deciding to take a few weeks off to hike down a coast, through a forest, or through a national park could be a life-changing experience. Learning to survive on the basics while interacting with nature will give you a whole new take on what is really important in life. If you’re feeling courageous, get some inspiration from the bestselling book “Wild” and go solo.
Trips We Recommend
Long Range Traverse in Newfoundland (Canada): If you’re looking for a coastal trail, this one won't disappoint. Located on a island off the coast of Quebec, this five-day long route winds through Gros Morne National Park and includes otherworldly views of granite cliffs and blue fjords. There are no trail markers on this route, so come ready to navigate.
Everest Base Camp Trek (Nepal): This challenging 15-20 day trek is for true adventurers. At 29,035 feet above sea level, it’s one of the tallest and most dangerous mountains to climb. But if you’re prepared to brave the risks, you might end up on top of the world.
Te Araroa (New Zealand): New Zealand prides itself on having built a culture around taking vacations by foot, or in local parlance, “tramping.” Given the country’s dramatic landscape, it’s really no surprise as to why. This particular trail takes hikers through dunes, over snow-capped peaks, and into thick green rainforests on its singular route.