The first “Slow Down London” festival runs from April 24 to May 4. “Slow Down London” is a new project to inspire Londoners to improve their lives by “slowing down to do things well, rather than as fast as possible.”
We would like to inspire you to improve your travel life by slowing down. Don’t hop on a plane, check into a hotel, grab your guidebook and dash out to see the highlights. Instead pick one destination that you want to know better, find a home exchange or a vacation rental in the area, and settle in. Go to your favorite local café or tea room. Get groceries and supplies at the local shops. Talk to your neighbors, the people who live there. Read the local newspaper. Travel well, rather than as fast as possible.
Americans use the term “vacation” instead of “holiday”. For us a vacation is the chance to “vacate” our regular life. It doesn’t mean that we are unhappy with our daily life, but a change can be as good as a rest, so we leave our regular life behind and try on a different lifestyle. Maybe we go to a beach and become a beach-bum. Or maybe we head to Europe and live like a European for a few weeks.
With a home exchange or a vacation rental you get to live in a neighborhood, not in a tourist zone. Your local shops and restaurants cater to locals, not to tourists looking for something fast and inexpensive. You don’t spend two nights trying to see everything; you spend a week or two. In my travel experience, the best way to really see a place is to stay for awhile. Slow it down so you have the time to find the roses, talk to the gardener who grows them and then smell the roses.
Pauline Kenny runs two travel websites: Slow Europe, a guide to vacation rentals in Europe, and Cotswolder, a travel guide for the Cotswolds in England. She lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico with her husband Steve Cohen and cat Buddy. Pauline and Steve travel to Europe as often as they can and are currently obsessed with traveling in England. They have never done a home exchange because their lives are too disorganized, but they always stay in vacation rentals.