Valuable Slow Travel Lessons Learned
On my recent trip to Switzerland I learnt some very valuable lessons about how I can improve fulfilling my slow travel ambitions.
As I mentioned in my previous post, my husband and I spent a total of 12 days in Switzerland and loved staying in the small town of Frutigen in the Bernese Oberland region. However, we actually only had three full weekend days available to explore due to our remote work and study commitments during the week.
On our first day, we didn’t actually venture too far. We hiked around the picturesque Oeschinen Lake and trekked through the valley from Kandersteg back to Frutigen. Although the day was overcast and wet, we felt energised by the natural beauty around us.
However, on our other two available days, we traipsed miles and miles to visit the popular towns of Luzern, Montreux and Lausanne. Sounds lovely, doesn’t it? Well, it was, to an extent. We got to see Luzern, its famous lakes and Mount Pilatus. We strolled along the edge of Geneva Lake, window shopped in Montreux and meandered around the streets of Lausanne.
But we barely spent more than 3 hours in each location and the majority of both days were spent on the train. At the end of both days, we were exhausted, and to be honest, I had not enjoyed them anyway near as much as our first day. For some reason, I felt I had failed to fully achieve my slow travel goals.
What went wrong
Visiting Luzern, Montreux and Lausanne would have been so much better if we’d had more time. I would totally recommend visiting these places, they are stunning! But we needed more time. We needed more time to learn the cities stories, roam their streets, and fall in love with each of their own unique characters.
Both days we spent most of our time on a train or boat. Yes, the scenery made the journeys more interesting. But we had not come to Switzerland to only travel the transport network. If we’d had more time we could have visited these towns at a less frantic pace and seen much more. But only having a few hours in each destination meant we couldn’t do this.
So why didn’t we just stay in our local area? Well, there are a couple of reasons. The first being the weather. Anyone who knows mountains will know autumn climates can be extremely unpredictable. Almost to the point of saying you can experience four seasons in one day.
Do you remember I mentioned our first day was overcast and wet? Well, unfortunately, this was the forecast for the other two days as well. My response was to open my weather app and search for the sunniest locations.
Luzern and Lausanne happened to be the two most promising destinations, weather-wise. So that’s where we went. In hindsight, a bit of wet weather wouldn’t have been so bad. We probably would have geared up in waterproofs and still had a great day in the outdoors.
I Got FOMO
As I continue my journey in learning how to embrace a slow travel lifestyle, I find I still get waves of travel FOMO. Not heard this acronym before? It stands for Fear Of Missing Out.
A sort of anxiety that if you don’t visit every tourist site or landmark in the guidebook, you are going to miss out on something truly amazing. When this happens, you usually rush from one tourist site to another, not really spending any quality time in the surrounding area.
This is what happened to me. I wanted to see as many mountains, lakes and picturesque towns in Switzerland as I possibly could. Otherwise, how could I say I had been to Switzerland? But in letting my FOMO anxiety control my decisions, I still felt I missed out. Because although I saw lots of things, I didn’t really get to explore the uniqueness of each place. And really, this is what I was seeking in my slow travel adventure.
Valuable Lessons Learned
So what will I take from this experience? Well, firstly I am not going to be too hard on myself. Travel is a never-ending learning experience. You not only learn about the places you visit but you learn a lot about yourself. Even though I feel I failed some of my slow travel goals. I think I have actually gained valuable insights into discovering what factors can really influence my travel plans.
I learnt that even if I didn’t see EVERYTHING, I could still confidently say I had been to Switzerland. But only one region, and that would be ok. Because I would have so much more to tell you about that region than I could tell you about Luzern and Lausanne.
I realise now I should have just embraced the unpredictable weather and enjoyed it as part of the experience. If I had done both of these things I could have used my short amount of time more wisely, and just adventured in the local region of Frutigen.
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