How to Travel Slow

Posted on Saturday, Aug 01, 2015

Ticket for Paris, France - $30; Berlin, Germany - $50; Reykjavik, Iceland - $75.  From any one of London’s five international airports you go just about anywhere at any time, a culture shock in itself when remembering just how hard sometimes it can be to get out of College Station. Here travelling to Prague on a Friday afternoon for some Czech goulash can be as easy as four hours from your flat to your hotel, which is exactly what I did this weekend. It is so cheap and easy to travel here that you can feel like you have two homes: London for the workweek and Europe for the weekend. And that is the way I spent my first three weeks in London, traveling fast around the UK and Northern Europe. It was strange though, after three weeks I felt like I hadn't seen anything at all, especially the city I was living in. So I vowed to stay put, and to travel slow.
Traveling in Europe is often a shock for Americans because everything is so very close. A flight from Los Angeles to New York takes six hours, but in that time a plane flying from London to Moscow could go there and back again. Hoping on and off planes every weekend it can begin to feel like you aren’t going anywhere at all - that really the buildings are just changing and the people are speaking a slightly different language with some funny sounding foods. So it suddenly becomes a paradox if you travel too much: you are seeing more places but you are taking less in.
The question becomes how do you balance wanting to see anything and everything with taking it all in? The answer is easy, but hard to follow: slow down. I am in London, one of the most storied cities in the world and one of the most significant. The thing I love the most about this city is that I can walk ten minutes in any direction and find something new and significant. There is no possible way that I can take it all in three months, especially if I spend all of my free time away.
There will be plenty of time later in my life to see everything that Europe can offer. I would much rather say that I lived in London for three months, getting to know every spare alleyway and pub, than to spend two-days in every city across Europe not being able to take it all in.  Yes, my first three weeks were great and I plan to hit Morocco and Iceland before I head home, but besides that I am all here, I am all in - in this fantastic city that surprises me every way I turn.

Spencer Davis
U.S. Commercial Service
London, England - Summer 2015

Tags: London, PPIP, Travel