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Reflections on Slow Travel

Photo: Ron Mader, Bike Share in Las Vegas (some rights reserved)

My background – Originally, I’m from Fort Wayne, Indiana, home of the Three Rivers Festival which deepened my interest in local and international culture, particularly food, mostly food. The weekend’s International Village would showcase foods that otherwise were not on the menu.

Since I created Planeta.com in 1994, I’ve lived in three US cities and two Mexican cities. As the tagline rides, think smart, travel slow.

I extended my visit to Mexico by some 15 years. There’s a fine line between traveler and semi-migrant. The change occurs when locals call you neighbor (‘vecino’ or ‘vecina’).

The time spent working (yes, I had a visa!) in Mexico City and Oaxaca gave me the opportunity to share the moment with locals, as much as possible with their rhythm, not mine.

I have worked as a consultant or an international speaker, so I know the routine fly in, fly out practiced by so many time-starved professionals. But such trips contradict the essence of rural places. Visitors are blinded by their own hurry if they cannot enter or try to enter the rhythm of the community.

That said, we rarely have 15 or 5 years to spend in a place. The solution is to learn from those who have.

All well and good, but what does slow travel look like? A few examples (and I’m sure you can think of a few more!)

Las Vegas


  • Attend a school to learn the Spanish language
  • Visit markets – La Cosecha, Pochote Xochimilco
  • Bike rides with Colibri-winner Pedro Mártinez

Teotitlán del Valle

Angela Mendoza is one of my teachers of slow travel. My best wishes to Angela and her family and her village.

Angela Mendoza es una de mis maestras de slow travel. Mis mejores deseos para Angela y su familia y su pueblo.

What sort of travelers would locals like to see stick around? Those who are pleasant and respectful.

Do travelers know how to ‘hang out’ in the rhythm of the community?

What sort of locals would travelers like to visit? Those who are pleasant and respectful.

If we focus on transportation, what are the differences among walking, cycling, driving (or riding) and flying?

Have we mistaken slowness for lethargy?

A question for those writing and publishing about travel. Are we timely? Or are we writing evergreen stories that do not need to be updated? (Note to self – update articles on Transitions Abroad)

A question for marketing organizations, pr firms and government offices – take a look at your materials – do they acknowledge or promote anything slow about travel?

A question for those who have the stats – how long do people stay?

How do we integrate slow travel into events and celebrations such as World Listening Day?

Wish List
We would like to get in contact again with friends in Australia, Belize, Canada, Ecuador, England, Estonia, France, Germany, Honduras, India, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, Panama, South Africa, Sweden and the USA. How do we collaborate?


Shoutout to Anders Karrstedt for creating the Slow Adventures Facebook Group

Slow Down, It's Cape Town @ 05.2011

Think Smart, Travel Slow


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