Travel. For some, it means a jam-packed trip with tourist hot spots scheduled back to back. For me though, the most important part of travel is taking the time to soak in each experience. During my travels I’ve managed my time differently, and now after visiting over 40 countries I can pretty confidently say that it’s always better to take your time and move slow. I just wish I could always remember to do it myself.
I remember my first trip to Europe when I was 22. I had never traveled by myself and I worked hard to save enough money to go travel for three months during the fall one year. It was a pretty typical young guy’s Europe backpacking trip, and I hit 17 countries in three months. Looking back on it, that was a really rewarding experience and it made a lasting impact on my life.
On that trip I started out moving fast, seeing typical landmarks and scheduling my time so I could see it all. Then, as I continued to travel, I began to learn the importance of taking it slow. Over time I learned an important lesson:
“When you rush to try and see everything, you never truly see anything.”
This was a big revelation for me, and it took me a long time to get it. It’s not to be taken literally, but you have to seek for meaning in this rule. If you’re trying to push yourself and keep to a tight schedule and see every little thing and snap a photo of it, you won’t leave yourself enough time to truly soak in the experience. You won’t allow it to leave a lasting impression on you. Traveling like that is not fulfilling, and overall you’ll have a better experience if you cut your itinerary in half.
My friends and I have done this while traveling in Nepal. Some days while we were backpacking through the Himalayas, we would take a few hours or even a whole day off from hiking to wander around a village and meet people and play with kids. Those experiences usually were much more memorable. You realize that you were just charging through these villages and snapping a photo or two and you were missing the really rich experiences that they had to offer.
I still have a lot to learn about travel. I need to be more patient, and learn from my experiences. I hope this article helps you slow down and take your time. I know just writing it is making me think hard about my goals in the future.