Do you ever feel like you're zipping through city after city, hardly knowing what country you're in? Or trying to cram everything into a short trip to justify the expense or the time? Are you ever so focused on your destination that you've nearly missed the journey?
It's in reaction to these feelings that slow travel evolved. Slow travel is about getting to know people and places, about slowing down to the speed of life, about absorbing your surroundings.
Why don't you give it a try?
Women on the Road NEWS: Contents for Issue #35
- Slow Travel - Something for Everyone
- My 15 Seconds of Fame!
- What's New on www.women-on-the-road.com
- Ask me a question!
- Join dozens of other graduates of my free travel writing course!
- Most Popular Posts Last Month
- Travel News from Across the Web
- Cause of the Month: Abolishing the death penalty
Slow travel means getting to where you're going - slowly. Take your time: travel on foot or on a bicycle, sail down the river on a barge, stroll along hilly country roads breathing in deeply. Remember how the air drifted across your skin, smelling of earth and petals. The 20th century was the century of speed when everything had to be better, faster. These days serene, low-impact travel is gaining ground.
Flying - the fastest type of travel - may be the antithesis of slow travel. At least Alain de Botton thinks so. Travel by bus or sample one of the world's great railway journeys. Ride a horse or camel. I've been intrigued by animal transport since I read Dervla Murphy's In Ethiopia With a Mule. Near my home in Eastern France, pilgrims head from Geneva to Santiago de Compostela on foot, sometimes pushing their donkey along.
Stay in Houses, Not in Hotels
Hotels are usually anonymous and impersonal. A house or appartment, on the other hand, give you an entry into daily life: you'll take public transportation, use local department and grocery stores, say hello to neighbors. You'll acquire a routine. In Madrid I rented an appartment for a week. Each morning, I stepped downstairs for my hot chocolate and churros and visited the same kiosk to pick up a paper. I felt I belonged, even if just a bit, every time I put my key in the front door.
Better Yet, Stay in a Home
Staying with local people opens another world to you - you can ask questions and get under a culture's skin. You'll find out who your hosts are and what their lives are like. In Vilnius I slept on an old woman's couch for a week and she recalled the cold, drab evenings during which she shared her bathroom with more than a dozen others on the same floor.
Spend a week or two. Then, travel to nearby places. Use your lodging as your base, and radiate outwards, exploring what's near you. Don't try to see the entire country in a week. If you're visiting France, you may want to see Paris, Provence and Burgundy all at once. Why not choose one, and really get to know it?
Dare to Be Different
Don't be a sheep. Just because the guidebook doesn't cover it doesn't mean it's not worth it. A guidebook is just that - a guide. It doesn't require absolute obedience. Avoid the beaten path. Look for the offbeat and the unusual. If everyone is headed one way, have the courage to walk the other. The loveliest alley may not be in your guidebook at all.
Why on earth would anyone go to McDonald's in Italy or Thailand when local food is so cheap and delicious? Food manufactured to standard recipes costs a lot more to make than locally purchased ingredients, both financially and environmentally. It's almost a 'counter-travel' experience - how to NOT get to know a country.Eat locally instead - good regional produce prepared lovingly by a small family-owned restaurant.
Give Your Own Time
Volunteer in a community if you really want to know how it lives. You'll begin to understand its problems and there's no better way to really get to know a people than by getting a sense of their needs - and contributing to their betterment.
Travel for its Own Sake
Wouldn't it be better to savor the journey as much as the destination? Not so long ago, people traveled to - travel. Mountains were climbed, rivers forded, seas sailed. Arrival was the cherry on the cake whereas for us, it's often the sole purpose of travel. We can turn that upside down.
How to Start?
At home. That's right - hop on a bus and visit another neighborhood. Walk to work a different way. Visit a part of town you don't know and try some new local eating spots. Get a map and head off in a new direction. Explore. After all, isn't that what travel is about?
Here is a sampling of this month's latest pages to help you travel solo in the best possible way:
We have a new look!
You may have noticed some of the pages on the site look a little different than the others - the central panel is white rather than 'pink', and the site is wider. Welcome to our new look! I hope you like it. The extra width gives Women on the Road a lot more flexibility for design and layout and for plenty of other plans I have for the site. I hope the changeover will be done by Christmas at the latest - one page at a time.
A sweet mention on BBC Fast Track!
That's right - and what a nice surprise that was. It's a short mention, but I was thrilled that such a prestigious program would even notice Women on the Road. Here's what Carmen Roberts of Fast Track had to say:
"I'd like to tell you about a site based in Switzerland. Women on the Road is dedicated to women who want to travel solo - there's safety advice, unusual destinations, and even information on how to get paid to travel."
Actually, the site is based in France - but I still welcome the mention!
Are you wondering...
- how safe it is to travel solo?
- the best places to go on your own?
- how much it might cost?
- what to pack?
- how to meet people and ward off loneliness?
- about the most unusual destinations?
Here are some recent questions readers have asked in the past month:
When is the best time to trek in Nepal?
Time away: how long should I travel?
What is a good 'travel and work' package in Australia?
And to Tanya, who sent in a question about where I bought my mosquito tent: The model most similar to mine is The Travel Tent. Two other models also popular with travelers are the Atwater Carey Tropic Screen II Mosquito Net or Kamp-Rite Insect Protection System.
If you're a woman on the road - or about to hit the road - and have a question which could be of interest to other readers, post it here and I'll answer it online. Please don't ask me for job leads or recommendations for hotels or restaurants - plenty of sites out there do that far better than I ever could!
If you need to get in touch with me personally for any of the following reasons, please either Reply to this email or use this form (and don't forget to include your email!)
- to exchange links
- to approach me with a proposal
- or anything else that might require a personal answer from me.
After nearly a year, more of you are signing up for my free travel course each month. Thank you to those who have sent me feedback - I'm thrilled to know you've found the course helpful in jumpstarting your travel writing career.
If you've ever thought of writing to pay for your travels, you may be like thousands of others who love the road, need the money, and would be thrilled to see their name in print.
I've paid for my own travel as a writer so I've learned a trick or two about what kind of writing sells and how to make a living at it. To share some of these travel writing tips with you I've developed a free online course called the The Travel Writing Magician, available exclusively to readers of this ezine.
Just sign up and get it in your mailbox in seven easy daily installments. Work the assignments on your own and see how your writing improves after just one week. You'll never know if there's a travel writer lurking inside you until you try!
1. Travel Packing List
2. International Travel Nursing
3. Cheap Ways to Travel
4. Solo Travel
5. Women's Travel Clothing
6. Stay in a Monastery
7. How to Avoid Crime Abroad
8. Travel Destinations
9. Travel Writer
10. Travel Money Belt
The 100 Most Celebrated Travel Books of All Time
Smooth Skies: The World's Best Airlines
Round-the-world Pre-Departure Checklist
How to Protect Your Accounts at Internet Cafes
18 Places to Feel Dwarfed by Nature
10 Incredible Animal Sanctuaries to Visit Around the World
Six Great Safaris in Africa
What Makes for the Perfect Hostel
For food lovers...
Vegetarian Survival Guide to Argentina
Best Frites in Brussels
Good Morning: Breakfast Around the World
Like a Kid in a Candy Store
7 Reasons You Should Go to Marseilles
The World's Deadliest Foods
Picknicking in Paris is the Way to Go to Save in Style
...and lovers of other arts
Petrol Art - Bringing Beauty from the Sludge
Visiting Munich's Modern Art Museum and Discovering Neo Rauch
Weaving Sea Silk in Sardinia: Preserving an Ancient Art
The 5 Top Architectural Wonders of I.M. Pei
Ayutthaya, Thailand: Exploring An Ancient Siamese City
How do you do Abu Dhabi?
First Time in Shanghai
A Remarkable Morning in Yangon
Chickens and Tea in Azerbaijan
Surprising Finds on Comino Island, Malta
The Trans-Canada Highway: Canada's Route 66
Seagulls and Saltspray in Essaouira, Morocco
Walking on the Wild Side: Zambia's Undiscovered North
Train Ride Through the Tea Mountains
Plaza de la Revolucion, Havana
Dancing in the DR Congo
Abolition of the Death Penalty
Recently, on 23 September, a woman on death row in the US state of Virginia was executed by lethal injection for arranging to have her husband and stepson killed. This brought out a flurry of condemnation, on the death penalty of course, but also because the prisoner, 41-year-old Teresa Lewis, was a woman, and also deemed of insufficient intelligence to mastermind the killing.
The execution starkly reflected the finality of the death sentence: should evidence exonerating her ever appear, it would be too late to use.
The event created such a row that even Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad got in on the act, somewhat ironically, accusing the United States of using a double standard when it criticizes Iran's own death penalty. You may recall Sakineh Ashtiani, an Iranian widow, was sentenced to death by stoning for alleged adultery. That sentencing (she has since received 99 lashes but her death sentence has not been commuted) drew condemnation from around the world.
The death penalty has long been criticized by human rights activists. Here are just a few of the many reasons why:
- It cannot be reversed and has in past been applied to innocent victims.
- It is usually applied to the poorer segment of criminals and often to members of minority groups: it is discriminatory.
- It does not deter crime, despite all the studies conducted to try to prove that it does.
- It is barbaric - just read this account of an electrocution if you have any doubts.
- It violates the right to life.
- It punishes everyone - including innocent friends and family of the person being executed.
The world's top four executioning countries: China, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the United States.
To help the fight against the death penalty or to find out more:
Amnesty International USA: Death Penalty Abolition Campaign
World Coalition Against the Death Penalty
Campaign to End the Death Penalty
Death Watch International
No Death Penalty
Death Penalty Information Center
National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty
The Best Cold Weather Destinations
(c) 2007-2010, Leyla Giray. All rights reserved. Women on the Road News is published monthly. Reproduction of any material from this newsletter without written permission is prohibited.