SLOW TRAVEL: WHY I WILL NEVER GO BACKPACKING AGAIN
I've been backpacking once in my life. It was summer 2014, I'd finished my first year of university and the influx of money - via student loan and Newcastle's budget friendly cost of living - meant I'd saved enough money to go interrailing through Europe for two weeks.
At the time, the trip was wonderful - 2 weeks of clubbing, sightseeing and eating my way through 5 cities in 5 different countries with my best friend. I even came back with a new tattoo. Looking back on it, however, I would not do it again.
Having taken to slow travel over the last two years, I've realised that backpacking kind of takes all the fun out of the actual travel. It's a stressful experience - worrying about your trains/transport, worying about where you're staying next. I feel like it left me with almost no time to actually explore and to see all the things I wanted to, I mean I went all the way to Budapest and didn't even get over to the castle! In hindsight it all felt like one big rush.
Maybe that's just maturity, my 2014 interrail experience was mostly about getting drunk in trashy tourist trap clubs. Now, I'd much rather see what the locals do, take pleasure in the everyday realities of the country I am visiting and learn about the history of the place (drinking can happen in between doing all that, of course).
Slow, immersive travel (in comparison to backpacking) allows you to do just that. I was fortunate enough to be able to do all of that whilst living in Barcelona last year. Granted, a year long holiday (read: study abroad scheme) is not the norm but even a short break can give ample opportunity to really explore a city or region.
I think the key mistake I made on my backpacking adventure was trying to see everything. Our itinerary took us from Western Europe to Eastern Europe and back again which was not the easiest, or most logical, of routes. Maybe swearing off backpacking was somewhat dramatic, I mean slow travel and backpacking are not mutually exclusive. However, I do think honing in on a region and really taking the time to explore offer a much more enriching travel experience.
Leave me a comment and let me know whether you are a slow traveller or a fast-paced backpacker at heart?
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