I bet you’re wondering how a kid’s fable is related to Slow Travel? Strangely enough there’s a lot to be learned from Aesop and we have 5 great lessons for you here.
Let’s start with Aesop. Have you heard of Aesop and his Fables? Of course, you have. I am sure at least one of his famous tales has crossed your path sometime in your life.
Anyway, Mr. Aesop was an ancient Greek storyteller who used mostly animals to teach moral lessons. His stories are timeless adventures that have survived for centuries with new and slightly different versions over the years.
“The Tortoise And The Hare”
If you don’t know the story then here’s a quick recap for you. It’s an old children’s fable about a cocky hare that is constantly nagging a tortoise for being so slow. One day the Tortoise decides he’s had enough of the very irritating Hare and challenges him to a race.
The race begins and the Hare immediately speeds past the Tortoise. With a big laugh, the Hare looks back and shouts, “You will never win the race at that pace Tortoise!” The Tortoise doesn’t care and keeps moving along slowly and steadily.
In the middle of the race, the Hare realizes that he is far far ahead and decides to take a quick nap. When the Hare finally wakes—he jumps up and continues his sprint to the finish line, only to find the Tortoise has already won the race.
Since all of Aesop’s Fables have a moral or a lesson, here’s the moral for “The Tortoise and The Hare” it’s simply, “Slow and steady wins the race“.
And what can the slow traveler learn from this simple little tale? Well as it turns out plenty.
Lesson 1: Racing To Anywhere Can Get Very Tiring
If you travel like the Hare and run like crazy from start to finish you’ll probably burn out from fatigue.
Being a slow traveler is like being a tortoise, you leave the starting gate at a leisurely pace. There is no sprinting off the plane in Florence to climb the Duomo and get a selfie with Michelangelo before your 3 pm check-in.
Taking it slow means going to your hotel first to relax, enjoy a good meal, and getting a good night’s sleep before starting your travels the next day.
The goal of slow travel is to get to the finish line (home) feeling as good or better than when you left. The goal should never be to collapse in complete and utter exhaustion on your living room couch.
“You can sleep when you’re dead” is a dangerous way to travel, a better saying is “You’ll be dead if you don’t sleep”.
Lesson 2: Moving Slow Doesn’t Mean You Won’t Get To Your Destination
It’s important to remember that both the Tortoise and the Hare made it to the finish line, they just chose to do it differently. One raced to the end and the other took their time—but both got there.
In slow travel, there are no long checklists. You see what you want, and do what you feel like. You plan one or two things a day and no more. It allows you to enjoy your activities without feeling rushed.
The slow traveler knows that taking it slow and spending time fully immersed in their experience is better than a mad dash to 5 tourist sites so you can take a selfie.
Lesson 3: There really is no competition.
I actually don’t think this was really a race at all, Tortoise just wanted to prove she wasn’t afraid to go up against the Hare no matter what the outcome was. It was more about the journey for her and less about the finish line.
It’s the same for slow travel, it’s all about the road traveled and not how fast you got there.
When you are finally able to lift that huge weight off your shoulder and let go of country counts and bucket lists, you will have achieved slow travel nirvana. It opens you up to a whole new way of seeing the world, one where you are free to relax, enjoy, and feel stress-free.
Lesson 4: You don’t need to prove anything to anyone
The tortoise didn’t care what anyone else thought of her, she just kept creeping along at her own pace, she didn’t even look up when the hare went whizzing by.
“You just do you” as the saying goes and that’s what she did.
In slow travel, your experience is your experience, it’s nobody’s business how that looks to you. If you want to go to Italy and take a cooking class for an entire week or sit by the ocean in Bali for 8 hours with a fruity cocktail, then by all means do it.
You have to stop worrying about your Instagram posts and social media accounts and do what makes you happy, even if that means going against the norm and slowing it way down. It’s your trip you paid for it. Travel the way you want to.
If I have said it once, I have said a million times, whether you trek fifteen miles a day in Paris or one mile a day in Paris, you still saw Paris. One just causes more fatigue than the other.
Lesson 5: Travel Like a Tortoise and Not a Hare
The final and most important lesson a slow traveler can learn from this fable is to “Travel like a Tortoise and not a Hare”. Stop hopping around from destination to destination and tourist site to tourist site. Stop worrying about the finish line, country counts and checklists. Stop trying to fit too much in a day. Stop running yourself ragged and sacrificing your health.
Instead, travel like a Tortoise. Take your time and explore the world slowly. Don’t worry about what anyone else is doing or what other people think, it’s all about you and your journey. A slow traveler never feels guilty or stressed over keeping the days easy and carefree.
When you travel slowly like a Tortoise you take the time to savor your experience and live in the moment. You only pick the things that are important to you, not the ones that will be liked most on Instagram.
And like I said in my “You Can Slow Travel In A Day” post the only other requirements are that you be fully immersed, blissfully happy, not rushed, and stress-free.