Retirement Talk

WHAT to do with the rest of your life?


Episode 660 (185) In Praise of Slow Traveling

 This is Retirement Talk. I’m Del Lowery. This episode is entitled “In Praise of Slow Travel”.

“Lets stop” my daughter said after biking 5 miles one early morning. We were on a 6 week bike trip in Ireland and Wales and were on our 5th day. Our mantra had been that we were “where we want to be”. We discouraged setting demanding goals and biking fast. We accepted the rule that the speed of our group should be determined by the slowest biker. On this day after just 5 miles we stopped. We were on the Ring of Kerry in southwester Ireland . It was a day well spent.

Another time we had just finished a road trip through Washington , Oregon and California. It was an eighteen day trip; ten days visiting our daughter in California and eight days driving.  When on the road, we drove around three hundred miles a day. We thought we had traveled pretty slowly until Saturday night when we had dinner with friends who had also returned from a road trip. They averaged 150 miles per day.


“We will start at the crack of dawn” is a favorite phrases of travelers. What this means for me is a start somewhere around 9am give or take a half-hour. Driving after 5pm is rarely done. Of course we like to stop to take pictures, walk on the beach, have lunch, find a local coffee shop, or jump on our bikes for a short ride.

I know some people who like to turn a road trip into an endurance contest. They judge the success of the trip by how many miles they cover. We have a relative who takes great pride in driving seven hundred miles or even nine hundred miles a day. He determines the number of gas stops and bathroom stops before the car ever leaves the driveway. And then, no matter the protest, he does not stop. His daughter-in-law was screaming in agony on one trip for a bathroom stop but he would not. I don’t understand this attitude towards a trip or a vacation.

When we left Alaska our daughter flew to Anchorage to accompany us on our road trip south. We were 40 miles out of Anchorage when we first pulled to the side of the road. The mountains were beautiful, a glacier could be seen off to our right. “Why are we stopping?” she asked. “We have over two thousand miles to go. We will never get there”.

“No need to rush life” I responded. This quote came to me from a bush pilot many years earlier in Alaska as we took off from a small lake. He flew a small float plane that was slow but powerful and reliable. It had become a household mantra whenever pressure was exerted to go faster than what was comfortable for anyone. We made it down the highway. She just had to adjust her expectations.

Now I’m thinking of following our friends lead and pulling in our driving distance expectations. It might be better to travel less miles per day. That is one of the advantages of retirement. We have time. We can take an extra hour, an extra day, or an extra week. By retirement age life has hopefully taught us to accept some limitations.

Just three hours ago we were strolling down the streets on Granville Island in Vancouver. We had just explored a newly established broom making studio where two young women make brooms in the Shaker style. They only use two broom making tools and the tools are each over a hundred years old.

We strolled outside and within one block saw a distinguished looking older gentleman with an expensive looking camera strapped around his neck. He had a determined look on his face as he rushed along this street amidst leisurely strolling tourist. Maybe he had a train to catch but he was definitely rushing life.

I think of this when I hear of people planning a week or two traveling in Europe. They sometimes plan on visiting multiple cities or countries in this short period of time. In my mind and from experience I would advise them to slow down. Either shorten the list of places to visit or extend the timeframe for the trip. There is much to be gained by going slow.

Retirement gives us time to breath, time to letup, time to sit in quiet repose. We should know by now that we aren’t really going anywhere. We may as well take our time.

When talking to an old Alaskan one day about a hike we had planned into the wilderness he extended just a little advice that came from many years of similar ventures, “if you want to get there fast you had better slow down”. 


This is Retirement Talk. 

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