After spending a month on an island that is largely populated with tourists, I’ve noticed that the American travel mentality is to get out and do as much stuff as you can squeeze in. This is understandable, as most Americans get maybe two weeks of vacation a year, three if they’re lucky–but sometimes I wonder what they’re missing by trying to do it all. Are they seeing everything…but forgetting to really live?
The Italians have a phrase, la dolce far niente, the sweetness of doing nothing. I love this. They seem to have the art of being down, rather than the American doing. I’m a big fan of being. I like lying in hammocks and reading. I like cooking healthy, delicious food and then eating it. The best days of my life have been spent lying on a beach or by a pool or a fireplace with a good book.
You don’t have to hole up in your hotel room to achieve this richness of time and experience, though; it is possible to travel and be. By slowing down you can experience much more than if each day is a whirlwind of constant motion and sightseeing.
Try slowing down for a day. Dive into each new experience and bask in it, splash around a little. Focus on paying attention to your senses. How does the breeze feel on your skin? What new smells and tastes and sounds are you aware of? We can become so caught up in getting the most out of our vacation that we forget to be present, and isn’t that the point of travel? To soak up as much life as we can?
If we slow down, if we be a little more and do a little less, we can better enjoy our travels–and our lives. If we try to do and see and experience everything, we may truly experience nothing. So the next time you’re on a trip, whether it’s to an exotic island or the grocery store, try slowing down a little. You might be surprised by what you were missing!
- My name is Zoe Lassen-Purser. In June 2012 my husband and I sold most of our possessions and took off on a trip around the world. We don't have an itinerary. We don't have an end date. We think this qualifies as an adventure.