Slow travel wasn’t even in my vocabulary before I went on holiday to Santorini and it certainly didn’t seem practical.
You see, as a travel blogger and journalist I feel a lot of pressure when I am on holiday to see all the sights, take amazing photos and record every minute. Let me tell you how that all changed…
“So tell me what you’ve planned,” P asks me, again, unaware of my slow travel revelation.
He has asked me this question at least three times before we set off for Santorini. Now that we’re here he asks me again and again I tell him: “Nothing.”
You see, before every holiday I spend hours researching the location and read as many blogs as I can. I then create an extensive list of things to do and present them to P, informing him of how important it is that we do each activity.
I sought to do the exact same thing prior to jetting off to this particularly famous Greek island, known for incredible white architecture that hangs off the cliffside, except I discovered there isn’t a great deal to do.
We can visit the black, red or white beach or we can go on a boat ride that takes you to all three. We could visit ancient ruins, or a vineyard or a particularly popular lighthouse… Or we could lie down by the pool all day doing nothing.
“You’re not going to be able to do that,” P scoffs, having grown so accustomed to my manic determination to do all the things and see all the stuff and have all the fun.
On this holiday, however, I’m not that fussed.
It isn’t because there isn’t much to do, other than go from lying down by a pool to lying down by the sea, but because I have come to realise how much anxiety I give myself on holiday.
It was time to take up slow travelling.
Glass half empty
For the first big holiday we ever went on as a couple we visited four countries in Europe in two weeks. We went to Vienna in Austria, Prague in the Czech Republic, Amsterdam in the Netherlands and then Venice in Italy.
These were four cities I had been desperate to tick off my list but after two weeks of dragging P from place to place I was exhausted, stressed and needed another holiday.
For our next big trip we spent three weeks in the Maldives and Sri Lanka. The weather in the Maldives went from sunshine to rain from hour to hour, due to a cyclone further north. Despite this we got plenty of relaxing done, along with snorkelling and dolphin spotting.
Yet when I look back, all I can think about is the time we lost to rain.
In Sri Lanka we travelled from Colombo to Kandy, Ella, Unawatuna, Mirissa and back to Colombo. We saw incredible things and had an amazing time.
Yet when I look back all I can think about is a temple in Colombo I didn’t get to see because a man with a snake sent P running.
As a travel blogger and journalist I already feel pressure when I am away, not only to see all the sights but to take amazing photos and record every minute.
If you combine this with the fact I am naturally disposed to negativity (the glass will always be half empty with me) and the fact I struggle with anxiety, it becomes quite hard to relax while on holiday, to really enjoy myself and create happy memories.
Of course we did activities in Santorini. We walked around Oia, we hired a car and visited all the beaches, we ate some amazing food and watched the sunset from a few particularly famous spots (surrounded by other tourists of course), but we also did a lot of sunbathing and boozing and chatting.
Without a list of things to do creating pressure and anxiety, I was able to really relax and really, really enjoy P’s company. It was the first holiday we’ve had in which we didn’t even come close to falling out and I came home with no regrets.
Of course this doesn’t mean I’m going to stop my holiday research and it doesn’t mean P will never again be presented with a list of things I want to see and do. But in the future I will make sure to schedule more down time and more free time to explore without intention.
It is time to do away with a feeling of missing out, when I should count myself lucky to be on holiday at all.