I just got back from a whirlwind bus tour of Hokkaido, Japan. It was called “in depth” but what they meant by it and what I thought that meant were two different things. It got me thinking about the different approaches people have toward travel.
This bus tour was fun, and we got to see a lot (their version of “in depth”) but each place was rushed and there wasn’t time to really let anything soak in (my version of “in depth”). In some ways this was similar to parts of the road trip I went on. We had three weeks but we still rushed through many things because our time in each place was limited.
Spending a limited amount of time in each place isn’t guaranteed to cause fast travel though. I’ve done family trips where we only stay one or two nights in each place, but we don’t try to do as many things in each place. This means we get to spend more time at each museum, national park, and other interesting features (petroglyphs, dinosaur tracks, etc), but can’t see as much during the trip overall.
That’s different from some of my other family trips where we basically live with our grandparents for a month or so, doing daily life and seeing a few things here and there. It’s more relaxing and we get to really go deep into the museums, take our time watching a sunset, or spend all day at the beach or pool. I feel like I have a better appreciation for the places where we’ve done this, but I also recognize that there isn’t the urgency to try to see everything because we know we’re going to come back soon. It’s more like the approach I use where I actually live, spending time doing interesting things on a weekend.
While the whirlwind trips were fun and I saw more in that time than I thought was possible, they left me a little burned out and a bit frustrated that I couldn’t spend the time that I wanted when at the museums or cultural/historic areas. We got to see many things but it was at the expense of really knowing them. At some places, I learned more after I left because there was no time to read the signs or brochures, just enough to run through and take any photos or collect stamps (US national parks stamps and Japan tourist stamps).
Fast travel like this is good for letting me know what I want to come back and see again, so I know where I want to go in-depth the next time. Slower travel is better for feeling like I know a place and its culture. It lets me relax and enjoy the trip as I experience it rather than only in retrospect as my brain and emotions catch up with the rapid itinerary.
Someday, I think it might be fun to experience travelling very slowly, living in a place and working remotely, exploring for several weeks to a few months, and then moving again. If you’ve done this, or know someone who has, I’d be interested to know what your/their experience has been.
Also, I want to know what you think about fast and slow travel. Which do you prefer, and for what kind of trip?
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