The Monday Rave: In Praise of Slow Travel
Does anyone still remember the 1969 comedy "If It's Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium"? It's a mildly entertaining film whose best joke is its title and whose protagonists are cartoonish tourists who try to visit nine European countries in 18 days. This was not an unexpected plotline, especially when you consider that the movie's winning title was inspired by the caption of a New Yorker cartoon.
But even as you laugh -- or rather chuckle weakly -- at the exploits of a passel of misbegotten travelers, it's a laughter of recognition. After all, one of the paradoxes of the modern American vacation is that what's intended as a relaxing respite from the daily grind can quite easily morph into something so hectic that you end up longing for a return to the grind.
It was out of this self-defeating vacation mentality, one imagines, that the Slow Traveler movement was born. It targets the Tuesday/Belgium mindset in much the same way that the Slow Food movement has targeted fast food America, and is part of a general Slow Movement whose enemies are as various as something called time poverty and "The Puffin Book of Five-Minute Stories."
In practical terms, the Slow Traveler movement, especially as championed by the Web site SlowTravel.com, advocates staying in apartments and rental homes while on vacation, and limiting your activities to the sorts of things you'd do if you actually lived in, say, Paris. Operating on what it calls the "concentric circles theory," the SlowTravel folks discourage day trips far from your home base, preferring instead that you start in your adopted neighborhood -- e.g., shopping in the local markets -- and work your way outward.
This approach has its limits, but I'm really intrigued by it, particularly during the present bleak period, when travelers have to be more money-conscious than ever. What do you think? Does the Slow Travel movement deserve to go the way of other cornball fads, or is there something potentially important happening here?
Please email us to report offensive comments.
Posted by: Chasmosaur | May 12, 2008 8:54 AM
Posted by: rja112 | May 13, 2008 1:05 AM
Posted by: Liz | May 13, 2008 9:18 AM
Posted by: Pompous Magnus | May 13, 2008 10:36 AM
Posted by: Mike | May 13, 2008 1:52 PM
Posted by: Greenbelt, MD | May 14, 2008 11:40 AM
Posted by: Carson | May 14, 2008 12:52 PM
Posted by: Rachel Stewart | May 14, 2008 2:51 PM
Posted by: Jeremy | May 14, 2008 3:40 PM
The comments to this entry are closed.